"Empire" strikes again

At The Guardian, author J.G. Ballard remembers the premiere of the movie about his childhood, my favorite Steven Spielberg drama: Empire of the Sun.

Surprisingly, it was the film premiere in Hollywood, the fount of most of our planet’s fantasies, that brought everything down to earth. A wonderful night for any novelist, and a reminder of the limits of the printed word. Sitting with the sober British contingent, surrounded by everyone from Dolly Parton to Sean Connery, I thought Spielberg’s film would be drowned by the shimmer of mink and the diamond glitter. But once the curtains parted the audience was gripped. Chevy Chase, sitting next to me, seemed to think he was watching a newsreel, crying: “Oh, oh . . . !” and leaping out of his seat as if ready to rush the screen in defence of young [Christian] Bale.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t realize that any other Percy novels had been made into films. Anyone have any particulars on titles, dates, directors, actors?


  • jasdye

    has chevy chase always been on crack?

    o, and yes, i loved that movie. and the book, probably the first memoir i ever read.

  • Savoy6

    I absolutely love “Empire of the Sun”. I lived in Japan for a number of years, and I totally identify the conflicted view he has of his captors – fearing them for their cruelty as well as admiring them for their courage. The manipulative yet sympathetic Malkovich character is great, and the scene where the American planes attack the base – with Bale looking on and cheering, is one of the most incredible scenes in cinema, in my opinion. Apparently Spielberg spent some millions on that one shot, hoping that the young star would be able to keep up with all the action and pyrotechnics. And it worked!