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Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

During WWII, a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Capt. Yonoi (as Ryûichi Sakamoto)
...
Sgt. Gengo Hara (as Takeshi)
...
Johnny Ohkura ...
Kanemoto
...
De Jong
James Malcolm ...
Celliers' Brother
Chris Broun ...
Celliers aged 12
Yûya Uchida ...
Commandant of Military Prison
Ryûnosuke Kaneda ...
President of the Court
Takashi Naitô ...
Lt. Iwata
Tamio Ishikura ...
Prosecutor
Rokkô Toura ...
Interpreter
Kan Mikami ...
Lt. Ito
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Storyline

In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honor and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are cowards when they chose to surrender instead of committing suicide. One of the prisoners, interpreter John Lawrence, tries to explain the Japanese way of thinking, but is considered a traitor. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Java, 1942 - A clash of cultures, a test of the human spirit.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

|

Release Date:

2 September 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Furyo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Colonel John Lawrence character (played by Tom Conti) shares the same surname as T.E. Lawrence (played by Peter O'Toole) in another British war film Lawrence of Arabia (1962). In both films, the surname Lawrence appears in both movies' titles. However, it is the character of Jack Celliers (David Bowie) in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) that is similar to T.E. Lawrence according to Nick Nobel of the Austin Film Society. Both characters have blonde hair, are thin, have a slight lisp and are conflicted about war and other men. Moreover, both these pictures are notable in that they both have all male casts featuring no women. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene in the prison cell, the cross belt of Lt Col Lawrence's Sam Browne is fitted back to front. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] Wake up, Lawrence.
Colonel Lawrence: [in Japanese] What is it? Why so early, Sergeant Hara?
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] Hurry up!
Group Capt. Hicksley: What does he want?
Colonel Lawrence: [in English] I'll find out?
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] What?
Group Capt. Hicksley: You don't have to take orders from this man, you know, Lawrence.
Colonel Lawrence: Well, I'm the liaison officer, so I'm liaising.
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] What did he say?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Stupeur et tremblements (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

The Lord's My Shepherd
(uncredited)
Tune "Crimond", written by 'Jessie Seymour Irvine'
Sung by the prisoners
See more »

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User Reviews

enters the heart and stays there forever
25 December 2001 | by (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Do not mistake this masterpiece for a Capra Christmas movie. It is a war film without action (but with atrocities) that opens your eyes and is incredibly versatile and therefore applicable to any war that knows a winner and a loser.

The story is completely about perspectives and motives: power-madness and despair. Some might find MCML hard to stomach while watching, some afterwards. But I say you have to watch it through to appreciate the concepts fully. Moreover, I say you shouldn't vote it before you've seen all of it; that way the rating wouldn't be as low as 6.9. MCML is one of those films that surpass movies like 'Platoon' (Stone, 1986) on any level. Added to all that, it's also beautifully shot by cinematographer Toichiro Naroshima (Double Suicide).

One of the best scores in history of cinema by Ryuichi Sakamoto (also 'Wild Palms' and 'Sheltering Sky'), who not only provides it with his strokes of musical genius, but also plays an important role: the androgynous and curious captain in contrast to the virility of Takeshi Kitano (dir and acted Violent Cop, Brother, Hana Bi) the self-confident and straight-forward sergeant. If you've seen any of Kitano's movies, his character in MCML will gain from that. I guess director Nagisa Oshima (Naked Youth, Gohatto) likes to play with feminine and masculine characters. David Bowie fits in brilliantly from that perspective. His character is the most complex and worked out the deepest. My opinion is that this is his best and most intriguing role so far ('the Man who fell to earth' came close). Conti ('If we'll do it, he'll do it') plays a key figure between the Japanese and the POW.

On which side to lose a war? When to intimidate and when to be intimidated?

Which side are you on anyway? 'There are times victory is very hard to take' - Colonel John Lawrence. Not without reason sergeant Gengo Hara says 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' not: 'Merry Christmas Colonel Lawrence'. Are you intimidated by an initiation? Or still not when you're POW and the only free part of your body is your head? These are questions the film raises. Unfortunately I can't compare the film to the book, because I haven't read it. MCML is immensely powerful, and really underrated. 10/10


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