Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

  • 1983
  • Movie
  • R
  • Prison, War

Japanese director Nagisa Oshima's first film in English stars Tom Conti as the title character, a British colonel in a Japanese-run POW camp during WWII. Colonel Lawrence is an astute observer of the cultural codes of his captors and even forms a friendship of sorts with one Japanese officer (Takeshi). He is also witness to the strange dynamics between...read more

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Japanese director Nagisa Oshima's first film in English stars Tom Conti as the title character, a British colonel in a Japanese-run POW camp during WWII.

Colonel Lawrence is an astute observer of the cultural codes of his captors and even forms a friendship of sorts with one Japanese officer (Takeshi). He is also witness to the strange dynamics between new camp commandant Yoni (Ryuichi Sakamoto) and a new prisoner, Jack Celliers (David Bowie), with

whom Lawrence served in Libya. Yoni is fascinated by Celliers, and plans to make him the prisoners' CO, replacing Hicksley-Ellis (Jack Thompson).

Oshima's ambitious film is not without faults, but these are overshadowed by its emotional power. Many of the characters' actions and impulses are apparently contradictory, but their motivation can generally be found buried in Oshima's complex story. (The Yoni-Celliers relationship, which needs

greater development, is a notable exception). Fine performances by Conti, Takeshi (brilliant in his first dramatic role), Sakamoto (a Japanese pop star in his film acting debut who also contributed the memorable score), and Bowie enhance this provocative film.

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  • Released: 1983
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Japanese director Nagisa Oshima's first film in English stars Tom Conti as the title character, a British colonel in a Japanese-run POW camp during WWII. Colonel Lawrence is an astute observer of the cultural codes of his captors and even forms a friendsh… (more)

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