Damn it! I wish someone hadn’t stolen my copy of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
It’s my favorite holiday movie!
Seriously though, it’s probably my favorite POW film. The first time you watch it, it’s kinda underwhelming. Certainly not the kind of thing you’d expect from the director of In the Realm of the Senses.
But it’s actually one of the rare films that get better the more you watch it.
David Bowie plays a British soldier, Jack Celliers, who is taken captive by the Japanese during WWII. The camp commander, played by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, becomes obsessed with him. Bowie and Sakamoto, not known for their acting, actually carry the film quite well.
Meanwhile, Tom Conti’s Col. Lawrence and Takeshi Kitano’s Sgt. Hara have a contentious yet mutually admirable relationship.
The emotional highlight of the film is when Lawrence and Celliers get locked up and scheduled for execution. The two confide in each other some of their regrets. We’re shown flashbacks of Celliers high class upbringing and his relationship with his younger brother. Lucky for them, it’s Christmas. Sgt. Hara gets drunk and grants the two of them a reprieve.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” Hara says.
At the conclusion of the film, the shoe’s on the other foot. Hara is a POW yet Lawrence is unable to prevent his execution.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is unusual for a war film in that rather than focusing on death and carnage, it explores human relationships, understanding, love, and regret.
I just wish whoever borrowed my copy would return it 😢
That would make my fuckin Christmas!