John Williams: Empire of the Sun

On the rebound from blockbuster success, John Williams' Empire Of The Sun soundtrack keeps it simple and effective.

With its almost ghostly reliance on child singers and religious overtones, there's something incredibly poignant about John Williams' soundtrack to Steven Spielberg's epic war drama, adapted from the JG Ballard novel. In a typically Spielbergian move, the story is told from a child's perspective, and it is this innocent viewpoint that informs the score, deceptively simple yet incredibly powerful.

The '80s had been a time of blockbuster after blockbuster for John Williams, so when he came to score Empire Of The Sun in 1987 it was perhaps only natural that he scaled things back. The drama demands it, but Williams also made it a virtue - and as with so many Spielberg/Williams collaborations, the film would be rendered inert without the emotional graft supplied by the music. It's all the more incredible, then, that Williams was able to supply it with little more than children's voices and light orchestration.