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In a time when competitors were releasing "comedic," derivative coming-of-age films, Empire of the Sun stands out as an epic in the classic David Lean sense--despite confusion or perceived competition with the equally excellent The Last Emperor (also released in 1987, and also a coming-of-age in a similar setting). It is also a remarkable testament to, yes, the human spirit. And despite its disappointing box-office returns, Empire of the Sun helped to further establish Spielberg as more than a commercial director and set the standard, tone, and look for future efforts Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. --N.F. Mendoza