SPIELBERG THEME - FANTASY: This is an interesting little trick Spielberg uses in Empire of the Sun to highlight Jim’s escape into fantasy.
Early in the film, Jim strays from a fancy dress party to wander the countryside. He plays with his toy plane, throwing it in the air so it can take flight, and eventually comes across a real-life crashed plane. Getting in, he begins make-believing that he’s flying it.
Spielberg shows Jim ‘battling’ his toy plane and cuts between shots of it gliding through the air and Jim looking up towards it in the cockpit. In the first few shots of Jim, he is dressed in his fancy dress costume only, but when Spielberg cuts back to him, he’s suddenly gained aviator sunglasses.
He puts the sunglasses on and the illusion is complete. He’s now a fighter pilot ready to take down the enemy.