Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
1983, 123 min., color, in English and Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Nagisa Oshima.
With David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tom Conti, and Takeshi Kitano.
“A prisoner-of-war drama as fever dream” – Bill Weber, Slant Magazine
Nagisa Oshima’s riveting World War II classic drama Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, the first English-language project of the Japanese director (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses), tells the feverish tale of a war of wills between four men in a Japanese POW camp in Java: Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence (Tom Conti), whose fluent Japanese designates as the natural mediator and liaison officer between captors and captives; a newly captured guerilla fighter, Major Jack Celliers (David Bowie), defiant and magnetic; the fastidiously severe camp commander, Captain Yonoi (Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also composed the film’s score), who soon develops a swooning obsession for the blond major; and Sergeant Hara (actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role), an apparently mindless brute who nonetheless shows occasional, cheerful bits of humanity towards Lawrence.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a violent homoerotic story of thwarted psycho-sexual passions behind barbed-wired fences, crippling nationalism, and two empires at the twilight.
– BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Film Award for Best Score
Part of the series: Shadows of the Rising Sun: Cinema and Empire
$12/$9 Japan Society members, students & seniors
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- Sunday, December 12, 2010
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