In this captivating, skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies Celliers, a British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Rock star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is the British lieutenant colonel Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between captor and prisoner. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash, and one of Oshima’s greatest successes. —The Criterion Collection
Nagisa Oshima’s career extends from the initiation of the “Nuberu bagu” (New Wave) movement in Japanese cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to the contemporary use of cinema and television to express paradoxes in modern society. After an early involvement with the student protest movement in Kyoto, Oshima rose rapidly in the Shochiku company from the status of apprentice in 1954 to that of director. By 1960, he had grown disillusioned with the traditional studio production policies and broke away from Shochiku to form his own independent production company, Sozosha, in 1965. With other Japanese New Wave filmmakers like Masahiro Shinoda, Shohei Imamura and Yoshishige Yoshida, Oshima reacted against the humanistic style and subject matter of directors like Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, as well as against established left-wing political movements. Oshima has been primarily concerned with depicting the contradictions and tensions of postwar Japanese society. His… read more
1983: Annus mirabilis for David Bowie. First Let's Dance, then this. The album is the greater achievement, sure, but how nice it is to have this visual record of the man, looking not unlike one of the "superhuman gods" that Col. Lawrence contends the Imperial Japanese long to become. In Captain Yanoi's strangled desire for Celliers Oshima reenacts the attraction/repulsion dynamic between post-Edo Japan and the West.
Revisiting the icon’s impact on pop and, to a lesser degree, of course, cinema.
Beat Takeshi! David Bowie! Japanese! World War II! What else can do you want?!? Blu-ray? Criterion? We got you! It’s all thrown in a porcelain sake bottle and shaken violently. The result is the astonishingly… read review
Title: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Country: UK, Japan
Language: Japanese, English
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Writers: Laurens Van de Post, Nagisa Oshima… read review