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
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When Jamie befriends Basie he is named “Jim, a new name for a new life” This new name immediately acknowledges the changes Jamie will undergo. Yet Jamie's loss of innocence is not completely recognised until the British camp is bombed by the Americans. The camera tracks Jim and returns to a close up shot of his face, with slow, high and dramatic non diegetic sound, in addition to Jim acting childish and enthusiastic about his previously adored planes. However he is literally shaken out of his child-like act by Dr. Rawlins, his second father figure, and Jim regards his toy planes with sadness, indicating that Jim understands that the pampered life he once took for granted is gone forever. Jim later reunited with his parents as, and the family becomes whole again. Yet he is changed and something in him is broken forever. He does not recognize his parents, and when he finally does and falls into his mother's arms, more out of desperation, to return to his normal self, than hope. This also explains why he pedals a bike around the empty camp, not only to mirror his earlier bike tour through his empty house but also in an attempt to turn back time to when all the events hadn’t happened. During the film, Jamie Graham transitions from “Jamie” to “Jim”—from a naive boy to an individual affected by the harsh reality of war.
The theme of friendship is shown