Mike Matessino Remembers John Williams’ Score for ‘Empire of the Sun’

Empire of the Sun Header
On December 25th, 1987 Steven Spielberg’s film Empire of the Sun hit theaters. There’s a point in the surreal adaptation where we see a very young Christian Bale cheer on the famous WWII-era fighter-bombers he hopes would liberate his character’s internment camp; very ecstatically he sings their praises, “P-51! Cadillac of the sky!

Similarly, for audiophiles and even casual film fans, the music of John Williams is like a Cadillac ride for our ears. Now this particular Spielberg film may not be in your top 10 but, as is the case with many of his films, the movie gives and gives, especially on repeat viewings.

Critics and audiences weren’t as taken with it as they were with Spielberg’s more defining films but John Williams’ score takes the film to heights thought unattainable were it left to the captivating narrative, fine acting and dreamy cinematography alone.

Empire of the Sun Essay

Thanks in large part to efforts from producer and digital mastering engineer Mike Matessino, La-La Land Records recently released an exclusive edition of Williams’ score (limited to just 4000 units). To help promote and champion this special edition, our great friend and film music specialist Tim Burden had the opportunity to talk at length with Matessino.

The music of Empire of the Sun is one of William’s most dynamic yet underrated scores and this issue serves as a fitting way to exhibit the fantastic work that (like 1941) often gets eclipsed by the popularity and brilliance of his other, more iconic themes.

So, tune in audiophiles and enjoy Tim’s fun and informative session with Mike Matessino as they remember the film (and its criticism), then gush over the picture, and finally discuss the process producing this “Expanded Archival Collection”…

La-La Land Records, WEA and Warner Bros. proudly present the remastered and expanded, limited edition 2-CD set of John Williams’ Academy Award Nominated original score to the 1987 feature film EMPIRE OF THE SUN, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson. Heralded as one of the acclaimed composer’s finest works, Mr. Williams’ masterful orchestral score seeks no less than the openness of the human heart, mind and soul – the perfect compliment to this powerful and indelible film about a young English boy’s emotional and physical struggle to survive the Japanese occupation of China during WWII.

This deluxe re-issue was produced, assembled and mastered by Mike Matessino in cooperation with John Williams,
Steven Spielberg and the film’s co-producers Kathleen Empire-of-the-Sun OSTKennedy and Frank Marshall. Disc 1 contains a full presentation of the film score, including never-before-released music, while Disc 2 pulls back the veil of the creative process with a selection of alternate cues and other additional music. A 28-page CD booklet features handsome art design by Jim Titus and Matessino’s exclusive, in-depth essay, approved by the director and composer.

Click here to check out more great releases from La-Land Records. Also, head over to Mike Matessino‘s official page to read more about him and his work at