Free to air
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)
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.