Best Books of the Month Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Janet Jackson All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer hog hog hog  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage UnchartedBundle Fall Arrivals in Amazon Outdoor Clothing STEM Toys & Games
Buy New
  • List Price: $29.95
  • You Save: $11.96 (40%)
& FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
Only 15 left in stock.
Sold by newbury_comics and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawre... has been added to your Cart
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for up to $4.80
Learn More
Trade in now
Other Sellers on Amazon
Lowest price: New
+ Free Shipping
& FREE Shipping on orders over $35.00. Details
Sold by: amazingmedia
Seller Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (95680)
Add to Cart
Sold by Amazon
+ Free Shipping
Buy New
+ $3.99 shipping
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection)

89 customer reviews

Unlimited Streaming with Amazon Prime
Unlimited Streaming with Amazon Prime Start your 30-day free trial to stream thousands of movies & TV shows included with Prime. Start your free trial
$17.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 15 left in stock. Sold by newbury_comics and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection)
  • +
  • The Hunger
  • +
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
Total price: $51.43
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Nagisa Ôshima turned to Sir Laurens van der Post's semiautobiographical The Seed and the Sower for this fascinating prisoner-of-war saga. It's 1942 in Java, and the captors favor Colonel Lawrence (Tom Conti) for his honorable nature and facility with languages. New arrival Jack Celliers (David Bowie), on the other hand, has no intention of playing by the rules. Captain Yonoi (Oscar-winning composer Ryûichi Sakamoto, The Last Emperor) finds himself drawn to the blond major, while the brutal Sergeant Hara (filmmaker Takeshi Kitano in his dramatic debut) treats him like any other captive (if anything, Hara prefers him to Jack Thompson's combative commander). When Lawrence and Celliers disturb Yonoi's sense of order, he decides to punish them both--guilty or not--but Celliers receives the brunt of his anger, frustration, and thwarted desire (a point on which Ôshima remains ambiguous).

As in later works, like Gohatto, the director combines grit (seppuku, burial in sand), glamour (pop stars), and lyricism (the lilacs of Jack's childhood). If the regal Ryûichi inhabits his role with discomfort, Kitano, then best known as a comedian, fits his like a glove. And though Sakamoto's synth-based score sounds like a product of the 1980s, it adds to the mood of the piece.

This two-disc sets offers an essay from critic Chuck Stevens, interviews with Sakamoto and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth), a profile of van der Post, and two featurettes, including The Ôshima Gang, in which Bowie describes Nagisa's work as "an expression rather than an impression of an idea." In its volatile mix of repression and respect, Merry Christmas plays like a psycho-sexual response to The Bridge on the River Kwai. As producer Jeremy Thomas notes, Ôshima liked to work quickly, and his first English-language feature isn't perfect, but it's certainly powerful. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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

  • Product Details

    • Actors: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Jack Thompson
    • Directors: Nagisa Oshima
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English
    • Dubbed: Japanese
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 2
    • Rated: R (Restricted)
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
    • Run Time: 124 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003UM8T3A
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,217 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By R.P. on December 12, 2005
    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 ›
    Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
    Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
    Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
    28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Sam on July 14, 2005
    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.
    Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
    Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
    Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
    13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By [KNDY] Dennis A. Amith TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2010
    Format: Blu-ray
    He is known as one of Japan's most controversial but also highly respected director, his name is Nagisa Oshima, a filmmaker who shocked Japan with his films in the '60s and achieved notoriety with his unsimulated sex film "In the Realm of Senses" and followed up with another controversial film with "Empire of Passion" (1978).

    One of the founders of the Japanese New Wave, Oshima was known for taking on Japanese taboos and creating films against the status quo and in 1983, Nagisa Oshima, now residing in France, went to work on his film "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence", a historical war film loosely based on the novel "The Seed and The Sower" by Laurens Van der Post and Laurens' experience as British soldier who surrendered to the Japanese in 1942 and was a prisoner of war for several years and saw how soldiers were treated by the Japanese but how he was able to stay alive due to his ability to speak Japanese.

    But Nagase Oshima has always had a different perspective towards Japanese culture and for Nagashima, this was a chance to explore men's attitudes in POW camp but to also explore perspectives of men from two different worlds and the consequences of war. Because "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was released in 1957 and dealt with British prisoners of war, both Oshima and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg ("The Man Who Fell to Earth", "Eureka", "The Last Samurai") wanted to make things different with this film and other POW war films. "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" would eventually be nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for six Japanese Academy Awards and also a winner of a BAFTA Award for "Best Score". And now "Merry Christmas Mr.
    Read more ›
    1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
    Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
    Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lynn G. on February 3, 2007
    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.
    Read more ›
    1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
    Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
    Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again


    Search Customer Discussions
    Search all Amazon discussions

    Start a new discussion
    First post:
    Prompts for sign-in

    Set up an Amazon Giveaway

    Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
    Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection)
    This item: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (The Criterion Collection)
    Price: $18.15
    Ships from and sold by

    What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

    Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: merry dvd, the man who fell to earth dvd, british christmas movies dvd, christmas dvd collections, british movie mr