"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 departed the Patheos network in order to escape click-bait advertisements that were offending him and his readers. He will re-launch Looking Closer at lookingcloser.org soon. He is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors, and a memoir of "dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He teaches creative writing and film studies; speaks internationally about art and faith; served as Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College; and is employed by Seattle Pacific University as a project manager, copyeditor, and writer.

  • Anonymous

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

    Hans

  • 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!


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