JWFan Exclusive: ‘Empire of the Sun’ – Cue List and Additional Notes

EMPIRE OF THE SUN – Cue List and Additional Notes
by Mike Matessino

The following CD track list for Empire of the Sun includes each cue’s reel and part number, session slate numbers (in order of editorial usage), 1987 recording date, orchestrator and indicates, where applicable, the original manuscript titles. Additional notes are included regarding edits made for the film or for the original 1987 album and other points not discussed in the essay accompanying the La-La Land Records “Expanded Archival Collection” release.

DISC 1 • The Film Score

  1. Suo Gân (extended version) 3:29
    1M1/2 • Recorded in February 1987 • Arranged and Conducted by John McCarthy
  2. Home and Hearth 3:50
    1M4 • S89 • 10/15 • Orchestrator: Herbert Spencer
    On the original album, this cue, starting with the Chopin Mazurka piano melody, was the second half of the track entitled “Toy Planes, Home and Hearth.”
  3. Trip Through the Crowd 2:33
    2M1 • S66, 67 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
    This cue is the first half of the track “No Road Home / Seeing the Bomb” on the original album. A piano insert foreshadowing the later usage of Mozart’s Sonata No. 5 in “The Return to the City” was added for the film mix. An early version of this cue called “Journey in Costumes” was written but not recorded.
  4. Imaginary Air Battle 2:38
    2M3R • S153, 151 • 10/21 • Orch: HS
  5. Japanese Infantry 3:00
    2M4 • S121 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
  6. Lost in the Crowd 5:44
    3M1 • S11 • 9/30 • Orch: Alexander Courage
    Manuscript title: “Panic and the Crowd”
  7. Alone at Home 2:43
    4M1 • S25, 123 • 9/30 & 10/15 • Orch: HS
    The decision to add chorus to this cue was made after the orchestral component was recorded. The orchestra-only version can be found on disc 2, track 3.
  8. The Empty Swimming Pool 3:14
    4M2 • S29 • 9/30 • Orch: HS
    For the film, the final chord of “Alone at Home” is repeated briefly at the start of this cue.
  9. The Streets of Shanghai 5:15
    4M3/5M1 • S111, 115, 48, 49, 20, 22 • 9/30 & 10/15 • Orch: HS & AC
    Four separate cue sections combined together editorially create the planned scoring for this sequence, also presented on the original album.
  10. The Plane 3:15
    7M1 • S99, 97 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
    This was the first half of “Toy Planes, Home and Hearth” on the original album.
  11. Jim’s New Life 2:34
    8M1 • S8 • 9/30 • Orch: HS
    Manuscript title: “Jim’s Activities”
    This was the first cue recorded at the scoring sessions. The composer later expanded this cue for a concert arrangement.
  12. The Pheasant Hunt 4:28
    10M1 • S58 • 10/1 • Orch: HS
  13. The British Grenadiers [Traditional] 2:29
    10M2 • S52, 53 • 10/1 • Orch: HS & JW
    Manuscript titles: “Grenadiers” and “JW’s Grenadiers”
  14. Cadillac of the Skies 3:53
    12M3R • S102, 103 • 10/15 • Orch: AC
  15. Mrs. Victor and James 2:11
    12M3A/13M1 • S132, 128 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
    The opening of the cue was not used in the film. Amusing anecdote: the handwritten manuscript title was misread when the studio cue sheet was compiled, resulting in it being entered as “Mrs. Victor and Jones.”
  16. The Return to the City 7:50
    13M2/14M1R • S70 • 10/14 • Orch: HS
    Manuscript title: “New March”
  17. Seeing the Bomb 4:48
    14M2 • S80, 78 • 10/14 • Orch: HS
    This cue, with edits shortening the opening section, is the second half of the original album track entitled “No Road Home / Seeing the Bomb.”
  18. Bringing Them Back 2:41
    15M1/15M2A • S107, 106 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
    In the film, a repeated section of “Cadillac of the Skies” replaced the opening of the cue as recorded.
  19. Liberation: Exsultate Justi 1:53
    15M2 • S83, 84 • 10/14 • Orch: JW
    Manuscript title: “Exsultate Justi”
  20. Suo Gân 2:23
    This version of the track (with middle verse removed) was presented as the opening of the original album. At the end of the film, verses 1 and 2 are heard, but cutting to the final phrase of verse 3 as the picture ends.
  21. Exsultate Justi (film version) 5:14
    15M3 • S146, 147, 155 • 10/21 • Orch: HS
    Manuscript title: “End Credits / Exsultate Justi” (and “Brass insert”)
    The extended brass insert is unique to the film version of the cue. The original version, as heard on the original album, is presented on disc 2, track 10. The opening of the cue, combined with the ending of “Liberation: Exsultate Justi,” was editorially created for the film in order to extend the music over the length of the credits.

DISC 2 • Additional Music

  1. Chopin: Mazurka, Op. 17 No. 4 (excerpt) 2:14
    1M3 • S142 • 10/15
  2. Imaginary Air Battle (alternate) 2:41
    2M3 • S75 • 10/1 • Orch: HS
  3. Alone at Home (alternate) 2:40
    4M1 • S25 • 9/30 • Orch: HS
  4. The Streets of Shanghai (film version segment) 1:18
    4M3/5M1 • S164 • 10/21 • Orch: HS
    Manuscript title: “Percussion insert”
  5. The Streets of Shanghai (alternate segment) 2:17
    4M3/5M1 • S15, 14 • 9/30 • Orch: JW
  6. Chopin Again 1:19
    6M1 • S91 • 10/15 • Orch: HS
  7. The Plane (alternate) 3:05
    7M1 • S30, 32, 31 • 10/1 • Orch: HS
  8. Cadillac of the Skies (alternate) 3:51
    12M3 • S34, 37, 36, 39, 33, 42 • 10/1 • Orch: AC
  9. The Return to the City (alternate) 7:50
    13M2/14M1 • S44 • 10/1 • Orch: HS
    Manuscript title: “Death March”
  10. Exsultate Justi 5:09
    15M3 • S146, 147 • 10/21 • Orch: HS


The following information addresses the existing tunes that are heard throughout Empire of the Sun and provides their reel and part numbers.

Popular songs: “Swing Is in the Air” (2M2), performed by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra, a 1939 recording, is heard at the fancy dress party near the beginning of the film. It is an appropriate title to accompany the moment when Jim eyes a Japanese fighter flying overhead. On board the freighter where Jim first meets Basie, two songs play on the radio: “South of the Border” (5M2), sung by Al Bowlly, was composed in 1939, written by Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Carr for a Gene Autry film of the same name. The medley “These Foolish Things/A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (5M3) is a fascinating selection in that the words for the first of these two songs by British-born Eric Maschwitz supposedly refer to his brief relationship, while in Hollywood, with a Chinese-American actress named Anna May Wong. Maschitz’s biography states that he dictated the lyrics over the telephone to composer Jack Strachey and the melody was written the following day. Music for the second song is by Manning Sherwin. Both were written in 1939 and eventually became very popular, recorded by numerous artists over the decades. The renowned Elisabeth Welch sings on the medley heard in Empire of the Sun. All three of these songs can be found for purchase as downloads.

Other Source Music: Mr. Lockwood, host of the fancy dress party at the beginning of the film, is identified by singing Christmas carols: “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (2M2A) and “Good King Wenceslas” (6M3). Heard playing on harmonica in the American dorm at the prison camp are “American Patrol” (8M2) and “I Left My Love” (8M3). Jack Dearlove, who was Harrison Ford’s stand-in on the original Star Wars trilogy and first three Indiana Jones films, plays a camp prisoner who sings the World War I song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” (9M1) as the prisoners fight for food and again during the exodus from the camp (14M1A). The Japanese Imperial Navy Anthem, “Umiyukaba,” (12M1) is sung on the airfield as Jim begins singing “Suo Gân” (12M2).

See also: