7.3/10
13,956
77 user 72 critic

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)

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3:17 | Trailer
During WWII, a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed.

Director:

Nagisa Ôshima

Writers:

Laurens van der Post (novel), Nagisa Ôshima (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Bowie ... Celliers
Tom Conti ... Lawrence
Ryuichi Sakamoto ... Yonoi
Takeshi Kitano ... Hara (as Takeshi)
Jack Thompson ... Hicksley
Johnny Ohkura Johnny Ohkura ... Kanemoto
Alistair Browning ... De Jong
James Malcolm James Malcolm ... Celliers' Brother
Chris Broun Chris Broun ... Celliers 12 Years
Yûya Uchida Yûya Uchida ... Commandant of Military Prison (as Yuya Uchida)
Ryûnosuke Kaneda ... President of the Court (as Ryunosuke Kaneda)
Takashi Naitô Takashi Naitô ... Lieutenant Iwata (as Takashi Naito)
Tamio Ishikura Tamio Ishikura ... Prosecutor
Rokkô Toura Rokkô Toura ... Interpreter (as Rokko Toura)
Kan Mikami Kan Mikami ... Lieutenant Ito
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Storyline

In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honor and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are cowards when they chose to surrender instead of committing suicide. One of the prisoners, interpreter John Lawrence, tries to explain the Japanese way of thinking, but is considered a traitor. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Java, 1942 - A clash of cultures, a test of the human spirit.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | New Zealand | Japan

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

2 September 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$99,221, 28 August 1983

Gross USA:

$2,306,560

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,306,560
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of at least five films shot during the late 1970s through to the late 1980s in which a character was buried in sand/ground with only their head shown above ground-level. It was Scott Glenn in The Challenge (1982), whose character Rick spends five days in it. The other actors and films were various extras in Caligula (1979), Ted Danson in Creepshow (1982), Bryan Brown in the 1989 filmed Sweet Talker (1991), and David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983). See more »

Goofs

In the final scene in the prison cell, the cross belt of Lt Col Lawrence's Sam Browne is fitted back to front. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] Wake up, Lawrence.
Col. John Lawrence: [in Japanese] What is it? Why so early, Sergeant Hara?
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] Hurry up!
Group Capt. Hicksley: What does he want?
Col. John Lawrence: [in English] I'll find out?
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] What?
Group Capt. Hicksley: You don't have to take orders from this man, you know, Lawrence.
Col. John Lawrence: Well, I'm the liaison officer, so I'm liaising.
Sgt. Gengo Hara: [in Japanese] What did he say?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blinded by the Light (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto
See more »

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User Reviews

As unique now as twenty years ago
8 April 2004 | by bazzzzzzSee all my reviews

An extraordinary film. I watched this twenty years ago (saw it 3 times soon after) but had not seen it for some ten years until tonight. It moved me as much now as it did when I was so much more innocent and romantic and susceptible to sentiment. I'm harder now and far less forgiving but watching this tonight moved me immeasurably. Bowie's performance defies belief in its complexity and depth and the whole production is steeped in difficult to fathom layers of sexuality and stress and suffering and of probably decent men tormented by war and of being captives and captors. A nightmare you and I have the privileged of never experiencing because of the sacrifices of that generation. (It's soon out on DVD. Booked a copy on Play.com)

Where does this film stand in the all time greats and why has history been so indifferent to it? And why the measly 6.9 average? What is going on?


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