7.3/10
14,225
81 user 72 critic

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

Trailer
3:17 | Trailer
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 & 7 nominations. See more awards »
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Bowie ... Celliers
Tom Conti ... Lawrence
Ryuichi Sakamoto ... Yonoi
Takeshi Kitano ... Hara (as Takeshi)
Jack Thompson ... Hicksley
Johnny Ohkura Johnny Ohkura ... Kanemoto
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 (as Yuya Uchida)
Ryûnosuke Kaneda ... President of the Court (as Ryunosuke Kaneda)
Takashi Naitô Takashi Naitô ... Lieutenant Iwata (as Takashi Naito)
Tamio Ishikura Tamio Ishikura ... Prosecutor
Rokkô Toura Rokkô Toura ... Interpreter (as Rokko Toura)
Kan Mikami Kan Mikami ... Lieutenant Ito
Learn more

More Like This 

Taboo (1999)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The new member of a samurai militia unit causes disruption as several of his colleagues fall in love with him, threatening to disturb the rigid code of their squad.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Takeshi Kitano, Ryûhei Matsuda, Shinji Takeda
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to an obsessive and ultimately destructive sexual relationship.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda, Aoi Nakajima
The Ceremony (1971)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Upon receiving a shocking telegram from his cousin, a man recounts his early life, as a member of a broad family full of dark secrets that slowly reveal themselves through the clan ceremonies.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Kenzô Kawarasaki, Atsuko Kaku, Atsuo Nakamura
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An alien must pose as a human to save his dying planet, but a woman and greed of other men create complications.

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark
Boy (1969)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A young boy reluctantly aids his swindling father in a threatening scam.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Fumio Watanabe, Akiko Koyama, Tetsuo Abe
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A married woman and her lover murder her husband and dump his body into a well. After a while, his ghost comes to haunt them while the local gossip grows stronger.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Tatsuya Fuji, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takahiro Tamura
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A Korean man is sentenced to death by hanging, but he survives the execution. For the following two hours, his executioners try to work out how to handle the situation in this black farce.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Kei Satô, Do-yun Yu, Fumio Watanabe
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Over the course of a night, a sex-obsessed young woman, a suicidal man, and a gun-crazy wannabe gangster are taken prisoner of a gang awaiting a shootout between a rival gang at dawn.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Kei Satô, Keiko Sakurai, Rokkô Toura
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In Osaka's slum, capricious folks without futures engage in pilfering, assault and robbery, prostitution, and the trading of ID cards and blood.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Kayoko Honoo, Kôji Nakahara, Masahiko Tsugawa
Kill! (1968)
Action | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two ronin - an ex-samurai and an ex-farmer - get caught up in a local official's complex game of murder and betrayal.

Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Etsushi Takahashi, Yuriko Hoshi
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Story is about a Tokyo girl looking round Okinawa island for her long-lost brother and finding he is the tourist guide with whom she has had an affair.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Hiromi Kurita, Shôji Ishibashi, Lily
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Four high school students preparing for their university entrance exam fantasize about a classmate, and meet up with thier inebriated teacher, while singing bawdy drinking songs.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: Ichirô Araki, Kazuko Tajima, Jûzô Itami

Photos

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Laurens van der Post, the author of this film's source novel "The Seed and The Sower", once said of this filmed adaptation of his novel: "This is a great and deeply moving film. The only war film I have ever seen that does not exploit the surface drama and horrifics of war, but penetrates into the origins and meaning of war in the human spirit. Moreover, it is honest and brave, and looks with the same unevasive and unblinking eyes into the character of Japanese and Europeans alike." 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.
Col. John 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?
Col. John 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.
Col. John 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 Alvin & the Chipmunks: Merry Christmas, Mr. Carroll (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Dismissed
Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto
See more »

User Reviews

enters the heart and stays there forever
25 December 2001 | by rogierrSee 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


53 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 81 user reviews »

Videos

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

UK | New Zealand | Japan

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

2 September 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$99,221, 28 August 1983

Gross USA:

$2,306,560

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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 »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed