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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 & 7 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 ... 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 ... 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 | New Zealand | Japan

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

Oshima shot the film without dailies nor did he make safety prints which is the usual filmmaking procedure. All of the prints were immediately shipped to editor Tomoyo Oshima in Japan. 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 »


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

almost unbearably moving
7 February 2001 | by seamussSee all my reviews

Based on Laurens van der Post's "The Seed and the Sower", "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" is an involving, almost unbearably moving and incredibly humane film. While Bowie toplines, the real star is Tom Conti as the eponymous British Officer trying to reconcile his respect for Japanese culture and innate humanity with the barbarity of the POW camp. Bowie has often been criticised for his acting, yet aside from a rather laughable flashback sequence where he impersonates a schoolboy, he is convincing as a mysterious and spirited "soldier's soldier" who has a beguiling effect on the young officer commanding the camp, played by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who quotes Shakespeare and issues brutal orders in almost the same breath.

Sakamoto, who is also a pioneer of electronic music with the Yellow Magic Orchestra, also wrote the soundtrack, including the famous "Forbidden Colours" theme (you probably know this even if you don't know where it's from) which conjures up the atmosphere of regret, lost love and repressed heartbreak in which we see the strange, unrequited love of Sakamoto's character for Bowie's. This film is about this impossible unrequited love and about the struggle of human values in wartime. As Lawrence (Conti) says to a Japanese Officer facing execution after the war; he is now the victim of "men who are sure they are right", just as in the camp the Japanese were sure they were right. The last scene between the decent, humane Lawrence and this officer, who was by turns hearty and brutal in the camp, is one of the most heartbreaking ever committed to celluloid.


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