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Cover Title
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
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124 min (NTSC) (SP)
Original Title / Year
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
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Trailer:
Rumble Fish (1983)

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Trailer:
Rumble Fish (1983)
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Java, 1942 - A clash of cultures, a test of the human spirit.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was the first English-language project of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses). In tune with his previous film essays on racism and brutality, Merry Christmas concentrates on a war of wills between rebellious POW David Bowie and camp commandant Ryuichi Sakomoto. Assuming that his other prisoners' unwillingness to protest their cruel treatment is a sign of weakness, Sakomoto is most impressed by Bowie's enigmatic defiance. While Bowie and Sakomoto seem to be operating on a high spiritual and intellectual plane, bilingual prisoner Tom Conti (the "Mr. Lawrence" of the title) engages in a more standard adversarial relationship with sadistic sergeant Takeshi Kitano.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Japanese: Senjō no Merī Kurisumasu (戦場のメリークリスマス?, "Merry Christmas on the Battlefield"), also known in many European editions as Furyo (俘虜, Japanese for "prisoner of war"[1])) is a 1983 Japanese-British film directed by Nagisa Oshima, produced by Jeremy Thomas and starring David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Takeshi Kitano.

It was written by Oshima and Paul Mayersberg and based on Sir Laurens van der Post's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II as depicted in his works The Seed and the Sower (1963) and The Night of the New Moon (1970). Sakamoto also wrote the score and the vocal theme "Forbidden Colours", featuring David Sylvian, which was a hit single in many territories.

The film was entered into the 1983 Cannes Film Festival in competition for the Palme d'Or.[2] Sakamoto's score also won the film a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Japanese: Senjō no Merī Kurisumasu (戦場のメリークリスマス?, "Merry Christmas on the Battlefield"), also known in many European editions as Furyo (俘虜, Japanese for "prisoner of war"[1])) is a 1983 Japanese-British film directed by Nagisa Oshima, produced by Jeremy Thomas and starring David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Takeshi Kitano.

It was written by Oshima and Paul Mayersberg and based on Sir Laurens van der Post's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II as depicted in his works The Seed and the Sower (1963) and The Night of the New Moon (1970). Sakamoto also wrote the score and the vocal theme "Forbidden Colours", featuring David Sylvian, which was a hit single in many territories.

The film was entered into the 1983 Cannes Film Festival in competition for the Palme d'Or.[2] Sakamoto's score also won the film a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music

The film has a 79% Critic Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 82% Audience Rating.[13]

New York Times critic Janet Maslin wrote a favorable review, saying that David Bowie 'plays a born leader in Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and he plays him like a born film star. Mr. Bowie's screen presence here is mercurial and arresting, and he seems to arrive at this effortlessly, though he manages to do something slyly different in every scene. The demands of his role may sometimes be improbable and elaborate, but Mr. Bowie fills them in a remarkably plain and direct way. Little else in the film is so unaffected or clear.' On the film's Japanese actors, she writes that "the two main Japanese characters who have brought him to this understanding are Sergeant Hara (Takeshi), a brutal figure who taunts Lawrence while also admiring him, and Captain Yonoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto), the handsome young camp commander, who has a fierce belief in the samurai code. Both of these actors perform at an obvious disadvantage, since their English is awkward and the motives of their characters are imperfectly revealed. However, they are able to convey the complex affinity that exists between captors and prisoners, a point that is made most touchingly in a brief postwar coda." [14]

Release Date: August 26, 1983 by Universal

Boxoffice: $2,306,560 2014: $5,828,600