Director: Nagisa Ôshima. UK/Japan, 1983. 123 mins.
Starring Tom Conti and Takeshi Kitano alongside Bowie in what he called his ‘most credible performance’, Ôshima’s 1983 Cannes Palme D’Or entry deals with the relationships among four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence deals with the relationships among four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War — Major Jack ‘Strafer’ Celliers (David Bowie), a rebellious prisoner with a guilty secret from his youth; Captain Yonoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto), the young camp commandant; Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence (Tom Conti), a British officer who has lived in Japan and speaks Japanese fluently; and Sergeant Gengo Hara (Takeshi Kitano) who is seemingly brutal and yet humane in some ways. A war of wills develops between rebellious Celliers and camp commandant Yonoi, and whilst they seem to begin operating on a high spiritual and intellectual plane in their interaction, bilingual prisoner Lawrence engages in a more standard adversarial relationship with sadistic Hara.
Director – Nagisa Ôshima
Writer -Nagisa Ôshima, Paul Mayersberg
Director of Photography – Toichiro Narushima
Producer – Jeremy Thomas
Cast – David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takeshi Kitano
Print Source – Hanway Films
Release date – 18 March, 1976