Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
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Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was the first English-language project of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses). In tune with his previous filmic essays on racism and brutality, Merry Christmas concentrates on a war of wills between rebellious POW David Bowie and camp commandant Ryuichi Sakomoto. Assuming that his other prisoners' unwillingness to protest their cruel treatment is a sign of weakness, Sakomoto is most impressed by Bowie's enigmatic defiance. While Bowie and Sakomoto seem to be operating on a high spiritual and intellectual plane,… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The Merry Christmas catalogue of atrocities finally becomes numbing, even ludicrous."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"Here's a movie that is even stranger than it was intended to be."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The film?s attention is split fairly evenly across the major characters, and their interactions are consistently fascinating in the way they illustrate both the cultural divide and the halting attempts to somehow bridge it."
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"Fine performances by Conti, Takeshi (brilliant in his first dramatic role), Sakamoto (a Japanese pop star in his film acting debut who also contributed the memorable score), and Bowie enhance this provocative film."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"An interesting venture, a bit slow at times."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
"From Oshima's later career... most notable is this bilingual, end-of-WWII tearjerker about forgiveness and understanding between cultures, which could have been dubbed The Man Who Fell to Java."
‑ Aaron Hillis, Village Voice
"Mr. Oshima has staged the film in a spacious tropical setting and filled it with a great number of extras. Even so, Mr. Bowie always stands out from the crowd."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"It's relentlessly grim, constantly off-balance, occasionally moving, and often striking."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"A compelling cross-cultural study of friendship and bravery"
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"For all the praise heaped upon Oshima's admittedly ambitious film about East-West relations in the microcosm of a Japanese PoW camp during World War II, it's far less satisfactory than most of his earlier work."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"The context and frequent incontinence of the execution bring the film uncomfortably close to the pseudophilosophical bondage fantasies of Yukio Mishima."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"David Bowie is outstanding as the defiant British prisoner whose erotic appeal undoes the Japanese commandant, played by Sakamoto, who was at the height of his fame as a musical icon in Japan"
‑ Urban Cinefile Critics, Urban Cinefile
"A memorable story of understanding across cultures."
‑ , Film4
More reviews for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence on Rotten Tomatoes