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Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1983)

David Bowie , Tom Conti , Nagisa Oshima  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Jack Thompson
  • Directors: Nagisa Oshima
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), Japanese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003UM8T3K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,259 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition master
  • The Oshima Gang, an original making-of featurette
  • New interviews w/ Jeremy Thomas, Paul Mayersberg, Tom Conti, & Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Hasten Slowly, an hour-long documentary about Laurens van der Post
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Chuck Stephens

  • Editorial Reviews

    In this captivating, exhilaratingly skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses, Empire of Passion), David Bowie (The Man Who Fell to Earth, Basquiat) regally embodies the character Celliers, a high-ranking British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Music star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, who becomes obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti (The Duellists; Reuben, Reuben) is British lieutenant colonel Mr. Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between his captors and fellow prisoners. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano (Sonatine, Fireworks) in his first dramatic role, MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash that was one of Oshima’s greatest successes.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Betrayal, regret, and redemption in a POW camp. December 12, 2005
    By R.P.
    Format:DVD
    This marvelous film, based on my favorite novel "The Seed And The Sower" by Sir Laurence Van Der Post, is light years away from the stereotypical prisoner-of-war film. It is so because of its profound understanding of clashing cultures, the hatreds that drive them, and the love that redeems hostile nations time and time again. David Bowie is often cited as the main character, but in actuality, his is a compelling supporting role. Tom Conti has the best role of his career as Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence, a British officer imprisoned in a camp on Java. Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto scored the film and also plays Captain Yonoi, the aristocratic, Shakespeare-quoting commandant of the camp. These two characters have a strong relationship which, nevertheless, is handicapped by the fact that Lawrence understands the Japanese better than Yonoi understands the British. Yonoi, and Bowie's character, Major Jack Celliers, are wracked with guilt over incidents in their past; Yonoi was unable to be with, and die with, his comrades, the "shining young officers" of Japan's February 1936 military coup. Celliers betrayed his deformed younger brother while attending boarding school. Lawrence is caught in the middle of these two tortured men. He is repelled by the brutality of the Japanese, even as he respects them, and their samurai code of honor. Indeed, wayward Japanese guards are dealt cruel and lightening-fast corporal punishment by their officers; and mistreatment of the prisoners is due to cultural belief, not simple sadism. The beauty of this film lies in the empathy that ostensible enemies feel for one another, and the unexpected kindnesses they show toward one another. But Yonoi's devotion to bushido, and blindness to the British sense of honor, leads to a startling climax. Read more ›
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    35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, A DVD release to be proud of! January 21, 2006
    Format:DVD
    I've been suckered into a few other DVD releases of this film, so I was skeptical about this one. However in selling my other two copies and taking the money from those sells and buying this one, well need I say this is the last version, but the one I'm completely satisfied with. The extras included filmed memories by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Producer JeremyThomas and Director Nagisa Oshima as well as an 1983 thirty-minute behind the scenes short. The film is beautiful and has been mastered from a new 35MM print and the haunting score by Ryuichi Sakamoto makes this DVD a treasured film for years to come.
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    25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983, Nagisa Oshima) July 14, 2005
    By Sam
    Format:DVD
    A highly unusual war movie with as many detractors as fans, this English-language feature directed by Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses) stars David Bowie as a silent, ethereal POW in a Japanese camp. Protesting--via his own enigmatic rebellion--the camp's brutal conditions and treatment of prisoners, Bowie's character earns the respect of the camp commandant (Ryuichi Sakamoto). While the two seem locked in an unspoken, spiritual understanding, another prisoner (Tom Conti) engages in a more conventional resistance against a monstrous sergeant (Takeshi). The film has a way of evoking as many questions as certainties, and it is not always easy to understand the internal logic of the characters' actions. But that's generally true of Oshima's movies, in which the power of certain relationships is almost hallucinatory in self-referential intensity. The cast is outstanding, and Bowie is particularly fascinating in his alien way.
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    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    By Lynn G.
    Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
    I originally saw this movie many years ago on a cable premium movie channel, and I think that version had either English subtitles or dubbed English vocals for the Japanese dialog. Anyway, the particular VHS version offered here by Amazon has neither. Amazon's product description does not warn potential purchasers of this "missing piece." That said, I am glad that I decided to purchase this movie (VHS video) so that I could see it again. Also, for you viewers who are members of the NetFlix or Blockbuster rental video service, a Region 1 DVD is not available (as of Feb. 2007).

    This movie is one of the most unique and interesting WWII movies I have ever seen. Tom Conti (Lawrence) and Davie Bowie (Celliers) give knockout performances. The Japanese actors are equally excellent. With the lack of subtitles, one has to guess what is transpiring when the characters are speaking Japanese (quite a lot of Japanese dialog). Fortunately, the Japanese actors are very good with facial expressions and body language, which provide some insight into what is going on.

    Some reviewers have compared "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" with "The Bridge On the River Kwai" (1957). The former reflects the sensibilities of a Japanese director, and the latter the sensibilities of a British director (David Lean). Therefore, IMO, a direct comparison is not really meaningful. These two films are so very different in many ways. I also think that "Merry Christmas..." is not so much a "war movie" as it is a study in the contrast of Japanese culture and values with Western ones. The plot also explores, with the Celliers' character, the tortured mind of a man who finds himself in the most desperate of circumstances.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Review
    Excellent in depth with acting and context intact with presentation of the harm of being over righteous in a web of superstition which is the epitome of bushido.
    Published 18 days ago by Edward Louis
    5.0 out of 5 stars Bowie's greatest performance, in a cinematic masterpiece
    The film riffs on Bridge Over The River Kwai, but ends up being a meditation on the difference between what Nietzsche called "master morality" and "slave morality," between a... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by R. Kevin Hill
    5.0 out of 5 stars Have never...
    seen this movie. But, if it contains all of David Bowie's pizzazz I would recommend it.
    I love David Bowie.
    Published 3 months ago by leslie
    5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Movie
    Just a great Christmas movie to enjoy at this time of the year. The price was just right to buy the movie.
    Published 4 months ago by Raymond W. Petschonek
    5.0 out of 5 stars I guess buy it for Bowie
    Great 80s movie, cult classic and all that. Character study movie. Not a lot of action if that is what you were looking for.
    Published 4 months ago by Bruce B. Hendrickson
    5.0 out of 5 stars If you like quirky movies like Man Who Fell to Earth you will probably...
    In some ways it is similar to The Bridge on the River Kwai but it has that odd Bowie style to it that somehow pulls you into the story. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by D. ABIGT
    5.0 out of 5 stars What a find
    I first saw this movie in the 80's. I loved this movie so much back then. I have been looking for it on DVD for years. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Cheyenne
    3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but what exactly is the story?
    We rented this one because it sounded interesting. Interesting, yes it was, but what exactly was the story here? Mostly British POW's inhabit a Japanese concentration camp. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by UniversityDoc
    5.0 out of 5 stars merry christmas Mr. Lawrence
    it's an interesting study in cultures,war,policies and human kindness.Good acting,David Bowie gives a solid performance and i highly recommend this film for the true movie fan.
    Published 12 months ago by dhump
    5.0 out of 5 stars Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
    I loved this movie. Davie Bowie was excellent. I had it on VHS, but wanted it on DVD. I'm glad I got it.
    Published 14 months ago by Donn
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