7.3/10
13,097
75 user 78 critic

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

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3:17 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Nagisa Ôshima

Writers:

Laurens van der Post (novel), Nagisa Ôshima (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Bowie ... Celliers
Tom Conti ... Lawrence
Ryuichi Sakamoto ... Yonoi (as Ryûichi Sakamoto)
Takeshi Kitano ... Hara (as Takeshi)
Jack Thompson ... Hicksley
Johnny Ohkura Johnny Ohkura ... Kanemoto
Alistair Browning Alistair Browning ... De Jong
James Malcolm James Malcolm ... Celliers' Brother
Chris Broun Chris Broun ... Celliers 12 Years
Yûya Uchida Yûya Uchida ... Commandant of Military Prison
Ryûnosuke Kaneda Ryûnosuke Kaneda ... President of the Court
Takashi Naitô Takashi Naitô ... Lieutenant Iwata
Tamio Ishikura Tamio Ishikura ... Prosecutor
Rokkô Toura Rokkô Toura ... Interpreter
Kan Mikami Kan Mikami ... Lieutenant 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Japan | New Zealand

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

2 September 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Furyo See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,306,560
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Lee Tamahori worked as First Assistant Director on this film. 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

Referenced in Mic Macs à Tire-Larigot (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

OH Why Was He Born So Beautiful?
(uncredited)
Parody song from the hymn 'Ellacombe', adapted by William H. Monk (as William Henry Monk) from an 18th century German original
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Moving and haunting, though sometimes awkward
21 February 2001 | by Denver53See all my reviews

SPOILER: I saw this movie when it came out more than 17 years ago. At the time a big deal was made about David Bowie being in it. He is, and does a fine job, but the movie isn't about his character. It is far more about the differences between East and West, and the cruelty of war. I was able to see it again last week on a cable channel.

To fully appreciate MCMR, try to understand the culture of both the captors and the prisoners at the time. To the prisoners, their existence in the camp is an unfortunate result of war, and should be temporary and not a life or death experience. To the Japanese captors, the prisoners who surrendered rather than died fighting are cowards, beneath the notice of the captors and likely not even viewed as human beings. They are expendable. But first, in this particular camp, there is an effort to "educate" the prisoners about the way a *true* warrior lives life (and dies). That is where the true conflict begins.

There are multiple physical and psychological struggles going on in MCMR. There is even some homoeroticism, though it isn't fully explained. There is certainly a lot of sadness, for characters on both sides. This point is brought home at the end, when the roles are reversed for two of the characters.

Even today, I can hum several parts of the score to MCMR, and they make me melancholy as I recall scenes from the movie. If you like movies that delve into the darker side of the human spirit (with some lightness thrown in), check out MCML. I rated it an 8.


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