Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

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Overview

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was the first English-language project of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses. In tune with his previous filmic essays on racism and brutality, Merry Christmas concentrates on a war of wills between rebellious POW David Bowie and camp commandant Ryuichi Sakomoto. Assuming that his other prisoners' unwillingness to protest their cruel treatment is a sign of weakness, Sakomoto is most impressed by Bowie's enigmatic defiance. While Bowie and ...
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Overview

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was the first English-language project of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses. In tune with his previous filmic essays on racism and brutality, Merry Christmas concentrates on a war of wills between rebellious POW David Bowie and camp commandant Ryuichi Sakomoto. Assuming that his other prisoners' unwillingness to protest their cruel treatment is a sign of weakness, Sakomoto is most impressed by Bowie's enigmatic defiance. While Bowie and Sakomoto seem to be operating on a high spiritual and intellectual plane, bilingual prisoner Tom Conti the "Mr. Lawrence" of the title engages in a more standard adversarial relationship with sadistic sergeant Takeshi Kitano.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Director Nagisa Oshima and co-writer Paul Mayersburg's narrative is more fractured than in most films of the POW camp genre, in which the story inevitably leads to some kind of escape. They are interested in exploring the psychology of their characters and the geometry of the camp, in which the captors are both wardens and interrogators, and the prisoners both captors and resisters. A rarity among prisoner of war films, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence also addresses the subject of homosexuality, not in overt fashion, but as a fact of POW camp life. Using two androgynous performers, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto who also wrote the film's score and British musician David Bowie, to play the adversaries Yonoi and Celliers, Oshima suggests that Celliers' ability to withstand abuse from his captors elicits more than just admiration from the commandant. Tom Conti's John Lawrence is the supposed bridge between the two warring sides, thanks to his ability to speak Japanese, but he is powerless to stop the sadistic Sergeant Hara Beat Takeshi Kitano, here billed as "Takeshi" from abusing Celliers. If the film isn't the crowd-pleaser that The Great Escape was or a more coherent mediation on the officers' code that Grand Illusion was, it is an honest attempt to examine the cultural differences that mark the POW setting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/23/1999
  • UPC: 012236073437
  • Original Release: 1983
  • Rating:

  • Source: Live / Artisan
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
David Bowie Celliers
Tom Conti Col. John Lawrence
Ryuichi Sakamoto Yonoi
Jack Thompson Hicksley
Johnny Okura Kanemoto
Alistair Browning DeJong
James Malcolm Celliers' brother
Yuya Uchida Commandant
Ryunosuke Kaneda Col Fujimara
Taketoshi Naito Lt. lwata
Tamio Ishikura
Richard Adams
Chris Broun Jack (boy), Cellier - younger
Christopher Brown Celliers at Age 12
Rob Jayne
Richard Mills
Hideo Murota
Rokko Toura
Takeshi Kitano Sgt. Gengo Hara
Technical Credits
Nagisa Oshima Director, Screenwriter
Terry Glinwood Executive Producer, Producer
Masato Hara Executive Producer, Producer
Joyce Herlihy Associate Producer
Paul Mayersberg Screenwriter
Toichiro Narushima Cinematographer
Geoffrey Nethercott Executive Producer, Producer
Eiko Oshima Executive Producer
Tomoyo Oshima Editor
Ryuichi Sakamoto Score Composer
Andrew Sanders Art Director, Production Designer
Jeremy Thomas Producer
Shigemasa Toda Production Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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    Posted December 28, 2010

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    Posted November 21, 2010

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    Posted March 22, 2011

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