Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

DVD - 1983
Average Rating:
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During World War II, British Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence and his men are interned in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, headed by a brutal commander.
Publisher: New York : Criterion Collection, 1983
ISBN: 9786313770151
9781604653151
Branch Call Number: MER
Characteristics: 2 dvds (123 min.) : sd., col. ; 12 cm

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A human POW movie that crosses the usual line of brutish captors vs. saintly prisoners. This film was big in the early '80s when I was at the university. But I never saw it. That's why it was interesting to watch 30 years later. Though MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE was a British-Japanese production, it reminds me of those Australian films that were influential at the same time -- Bruce Beresford's BREAKER MORANT, Peter Weir's GALLIPOLI. These movies constituted a counterculture in the early '80s.

v
VRMurphy
Jan 25, 2015

This is a beautifully made, difficult to watch film. The acting is excellent in most cases, a bit clunky occasionally from the two singers but very good most of the time. The music is outstanding.

n
Nakkid
Aug 22, 2014

Few movies affect me as strongly as this movie (the only other movie I can think of is "Taxi Driver" with Robert DeNiro). It's a beautiful movie that can be truly enjoyed by people willing to be open-minded and can look at things from a different perspective. It also helps to have some knowledge about Japanese social traditions/customs/beliefs to be able to understand the actions of the Japanese. Overall, I REALLY love this movie. I'm a HUGE fan of both Sakamoto and Bowie, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. Sakamoto was super handsome and intense, and Bowie was charismatic and charming, as usual. ;) Overall though, I think they did a great job of casting the 4 main characters. They all fit their parts perfectly, it's like the lines between acting and true character become blurred. I love the intense climax, and how you can clearly see Sakamoto/Yonoi's joy in his eyes and the frustration and horror in his face. It's fantastic acting! The music is AMAZING as well. I'd recommend watching the making-of featurette and the interview with Sakamoto about the music if you were into this movie.

j
JLMason
Jul 13, 2014

I think this movie is about how people are bound by their culture to behave in certain ways, which can be contrary to their nature and fundamental humanity. There are many examples: the Japanese captain is attracted to the British major, but must hide it because homosexuality is vilified by the Japanese; the British major is ashamed of not protecting his brother during a boarding school hazing due to his desire to remain popular; the Japanese sergeant who abuses the prisoners for "dishonourable" behaviour shows compassion for them while drunk; the "by-the-book" behaviour of the British leader of the prisoners has been shaped by his boarding school, upper crust upbringing. The two events that end this film affirm that peoples' humanity can triumph over their cultural upbringing.

0
0cho
Jul 22, 2013

I didn’t care for the movie. Thought the music throughout was weird and inappropriate, didn’t add to the move at all. Almost like circus music. Great acting by all but long and not very interesting, a serious drama with zero action and zero suspense. It did depict the mentality of the Japanese soldier very well, with their allegiance to the emperor and the whole honor thing and some of the brutality on the POWs. Could have been more intense, couldn’t really get into the characters.

insane_smurf Nov 29, 2012

bowie is amazing! must watch film. this was HUGE in england in the 80's. disturbing & complex film dealing with the vile brutality that was the reality of a japanese POW camp in WW2.

deals with the homosexual love between the camp commander & bowie. 2 musicians acting!

beautiful & sad film, dont miss one second of it.

gay eroticia toned down a lot from the book. read the booklet inside & u will see an explaination from robert redford of why he turned the part down - he said american audiences would not watch a film they couldnt understand in the first 15 mins & the filmmaker replied i dont make films that can be understood in the first 15 mins.

note to reviewer below - no, we are not supposed to feel sorry for that guy

d
dprodrig
Jan 27, 2012

This movie is based on a book written by Laurens van der Post, who uses his experience as a POW in a Japanese camp as a basis for the story. This movie, unlike others of its day, was shot and directed by a Japanese director and shows a different aesthetic. I'm not sure if this is true or not, I found the movie to be incredibly bizarre, full of casual violence against the prisoners juxtaposed against the kindness and connection that is meted out. The ending is strange and I'm not sure if we're supposed to think it's unfair that a former Japanese officer who once granted mercy is now being sentenced to death, or if it's just nothing more than an expression of reality. Not my favourite movie, I'd skip the first feature on the extras disc, as it basically interposes interviews with entire chunks of the movie (???). There is a more recent retrospective piece on the 2nd disc which is more interesting.

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n
Nakkid
Aug 22, 2014

Hara: "Lawrence! Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence."

n
Nakkid
Aug 22, 2014

Celliers: "I wish I could sing."

n
Nakkid
Aug 22, 2014

Yonoi: "I am right! Am I not right, Colonel Lawrence?"

Lawrence: "No. You're wrong."

n
Nakkid
Aug 22, 2014

Hara: "So then it's true: All Englishmen are queers."

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