Empire of the Sun

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The film Empire of the Sun directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the book by J.G. Ballard, follows Jamie Graham, a young British boy in Shanghai during the middle of the Second World War. Jamie is taken prisoner by the Japanese, and taken to an Internment camp, which is the main setting of the film. The central concept of the film revolves around the changes that Jamie undertakes friendship and also the loss of innocence due to the effects of war. This is shown using cinematography, sound, lighting and costumes. When Spielberg introduces Jamie Graham at the beginning of the film, he conveys a character that is protected, wealthy and oblivious to the war surrounding him. After Jamie finishes his school choir, the camera pans around to reveal Jamie's chauffeur, in an expensive car. Jamie jumps in, only to reveal a model plane, with which he is fascinated with. As the car travels through Jamie's luxurious neighbourhood, the camera cuts to a Chinese beggar, who repeatedly knocks a container on the ground, while Jamie ponders what he is doing and why he is there. His wealth is again shown when the camera conducts a close up shot of Jamie's fridge, revealing an abundance of food, which is served to him by Chinese maids, to which he says “You have to do what I say”. His innocence is demonstrated when he states naively that "I want to join the Japanese Air force, they’re quite brave aren't they?” showing that war is just an adventure to him. However Jamie’s innocence is not completely shown until his toy airplanes take precedence over his safety, after he flies his glider plane straight into the Chinese Army’s trenches. Jamie stares at the men in fascination, the high camera angles and dramatic non diegetic music indicating the power of the men, which doesn’t faze Jamie, until his father shouts for his return. All of these instances show that at the beginning of the film Jamie is just a young boy, unconcerned with the war going on around him. As Jamie Graham, the...
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