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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Em­pire of the Sun

(M) Satur­day, 3.25pm, Gem

(M) Satur­day, 8.30pm, SBS One

(M) Satur­day, 9.30pm, Seven (NSW,QLD and WA only)


The Debt

FILM­MAK­ERS love sto­ries re­vealed through the eyes of chil­dren, and here are three of the best.

Apart from (Satur­day, 7pm, Seven, NSW,QLD and WA only, see above), about a boy who be­friends an alien, Steven Spiel­berg made (Satur­day, 3.25pm, Gem), adapted from a semi­au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel by JG Bal­lard. This grip­ping film, com­bin­ing Spiel­ber­gian spec­ta­cle with all the grandeur of a David Lean epic, stars Chris­tian Bale as nine-year-old Jim Gra­ham, an English boy liv­ing with his aris­to­cratic fam­ily in Shang­hai when the Ja­panese at­tack Pearl Har­bor.

Sep­a­rated from his par­ents, Jim sur­vives the

ET: The Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial

Em­pire of the Sun

war, in­clud­ing a spell in a Ja­panese prison camp, and grows to ma­tu­rity with the help of a wily mer­chant sea­man (John Malkovich), who takes him un­der his wing.

(Fri­day, noon, Gem) is an English clas­sic from di­rec­tor Carol Reed, based on a Gra­ham Greene story about a boy who idolises the but­ler in the em­bassy where he lives with his fam­ily in Lon­don, only to see his il­lu­sions shat­tered when the but­ler (Ralph Richard­son) is sus­pected of mur­der­ing his wife. Beau­ti­fully acted and rich in Gree­nean no­tions of guilt and re­demp­tion.

Too late for An­zac Day but cer­tainly worth see­ing, (Satur­day, 8.30pm, SBS One) is Alis­ter Gri­er­son’s film about the Aus­tralian troops who fought on the Kokoda Track, block­ing the Ja­panese ad­vance on Port Moresby dur­ing World War II. In its graphic de­pic­tion of jun­gle war­fare and the hor­rors of man-to-man com­bat, it bears com­par­i­son with Oliver Stone’s Pla­toon. The most fa­mous record of the cam­paign, Kokoda Front Line, shot by news­reel cam­era­man Damien Parer, won an Os­car for best doc­u­men­tary in

The Fallen Idol


1942 — the first Os­car for an Aus­tralian film. (A new tele­movie, Parer’s War, also di­rected by Gri­er­son, is show­ing this Sun­day on ABC1; see fea­ture story on Page 23.)

(Satur­day, 9.30pm, Seven, NSW,QLD and WA only) is an es­pi­onage thriller set mainly in the 1960s, with a top-line cast in­clud­ing He­len Mir­ren, Tom Wilkin­son, Jes­sica Chas­tain and our own Sam Worthington.

Three young Mos­sad agents are as­signed to cap­ture a Nazi war crim­i­nal who is known to have car­ried out hor­rific med­i­cal ex­per­i­ments on Jewish pris­on­ers and is prac­tis­ing (un­der an alias) as an ob­ste­tri­cian in East Berlin.

The scenes of his en­trap­ment, which re­quires one of the agents (Chas­tain) to pose as a pa­tient, are thrillingly ex­e­cuted. But the ab­duc­tion goes awry, and the three find them­selves hold­ing the Nazi for days on end in a safe-house apart­ment while they wait for help from the Amer­i­cans.

Time shifts make for a some­what awk­ward nar­ra­tive, but the best parts are hyp­not­i­cally good, and Mir­ren has rarely moved me as she does here.

The Debt

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