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David Bowie stars in Nagisa Oshima’s 1983 Palme d’Or-nominated portrait of resilience, pride, friendship and obsession among four very different men confined in the stifling jungle heat of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java during World War II.

In 1942, British officer Major Jack Celliers (Bowie) is captured by Japanese soldiers, and after a brutal trial sent, physically debilitated but indomitable in mind, to a POW camp overseen by the zealous Captain Yonoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto). Celliers’ stubbornness sees him locked in a battle of wills with the camp’s new commandant, a man obsessed with discipline and the glory of Imperial Japan who becomes unnaturally preoccupied with the young Major, while Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence (Tom Conti), the only inmate with a degree of sympathy for Japanese culture and an understanding of the language, attempts to bridge the divide through his friendship with Yonoi’s second-in-command, Sergeant Hara (Takeshi Kitano), a man possessing a surprising degree of compassion beneath his cruel façade.

Produced by Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky), it was the first English-language film by Oshima (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses, Gohatto), a leading light of Japanese New Wave cinema, and provided breakthrough big-screen roles for comedian Takeshi Kitano and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also composed the film’s hauntingly memorable BAFTA-winning score. This powerful wartime drama was adapted from Laurens van der Post’s autobiographical novel ‘The Seed and the Sower’ (1963) by screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth).

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • The Man Who Left His Soul on Film (1983), Paul Joyce’s 82-minute documentary profile of Nagisa Oshima
  • The Oshima Gang (1983), a 30-minute documentary following the film’s cast and makers at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival
  • Video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Exclusive newly filmed interview with critic Tony Rayns 
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jasper Sharp

studio:
Arrow Academy
Run Time:
123 mins approx
Director:
Nagisa Oshima
Certificate:
15
Actor:
David Bowie

Takeshi Kitano

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Tom Conti
Subtitle Languages:
English, English SDH
Theatrical Release Year:
1983
Main Language:
English
Region:
B
Brand:
Arrow Academy

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

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Zavvi - The Home of Pop Culture

David Bowie stars in Nagisa Oshima’s 1983 Palme d’Or-nominated portrait of resilience, pride, friendship and obsession among four very different men confined in the stifling jungle heat of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java during World War II.

In 1942, British officer Major Jack Celliers (Bowie) is captured by Japanese soldiers, and after a brutal trial sent, physically debilitated but indomitable in mind, to a POW camp overseen by the zealous Captain Yonoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto). Celliers’ stubbornness sees him locked in a battle of wills with the camp’s new commandant, a man obsessed with discipline and the glory of Imperial Japan who becomes unnaturally preoccupied with the young Major, while Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence (Tom Conti), the only inmate with a degree of sympathy for Japanese culture and an understanding of the language, attempts to bridge the divide through his friendship with Yonoi’s second-in-command, Sergeant Hara (Takeshi Kitano), a man possessing a surprising degree of compassion beneath his cruel façade.

Produced by Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky), it was the first English-language film by Oshima (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses, Gohatto), a leading light of Japanese New Wave cinema, and provided breakthrough big-screen roles for comedian Takeshi Kitano and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also composed the film’s hauntingly memorable BAFTA-winning score. This powerful wartime drama was adapted from Laurens van der Post’s autobiographical novel ‘The Seed and the Sower’ (1963) by screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth).

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • The Man Who Left His Soul on Film (1983), Paul Joyce’s 82-minute documentary profile of Nagisa Oshima
  • The Oshima Gang (1983), a 30-minute documentary following the film’s cast and makers at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival
  • Video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Exclusive newly filmed interview with critic Tony Rayns 
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jasper Sharp

studio:
Arrow Academy
Run Time:
123 mins approx
Director:
Nagisa Oshima
Certificate:
15
Actor:
David Bowie

Takeshi Kitano

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Tom Conti
Subtitle Languages:
English, English SDH
Theatrical Release Year:
1983
Main Language:
English
Region:
B
Brand:
Arrow Academy

Customer Reviews

Overall Rating : 4.0 / 5 (2 Reviews)
  • 1 5 star reviews
  • 0 4 star reviews
  • 1 3 star reviews
  • 0 2 star reviews
  • 0 1 star reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are independent and do not represent the views of Zavvi.

Bowie’s finest performance.

This film was on the list of movies to see for years and I’m glad I finally have seen it. Not only is it a very moving film, which reminded me of some parts like Bridge of the river Kwai as set in a Japanese pow camp during WW2 and how the British officers interacted and at time defied with the Japanese guards I found Bowie’s part in the movie striking and fascinating. Fan’s of the artist should definitely add it to their collections. The picture and sound quality are great and a nice selection of extras on the disc, as well as a reversible cover with original poster. I was lucky to get a booklet in the set too. I would definitely recommend to WW2 movie fans and Bowie fans too.

Decent

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is often frustrating to watch, as so much potential is dampened by flat performances and dialogue. David Bowie and Tom Conti give admirable performances, often having to convey more through their faces than their words. The flashback sequences were tender and captivating and Bowie’s resilience is equally so. A pre-psychopathic Yakuza/Cop Takeshi Kitano gives the film surprise doses of charisma and on occasion picks up the authoritative baton where Sakamoto falls short, and manages to conclude the film with a bittersweetness that doesn’t feel contrived. The restoration is fantastic, like all of Arrows are although it’s similarities to Bridge on the River Kwai, it’s still worth a watch.