Original / alternative title: Furyo
Categories: POW camp movies
Running time: 120 minutes
Language: English / Japanese
In Japanese prisoners of war camp somewhere on Java Colonel John Lawrence tries to keep peace between the British prisoners and Japanese guards. New commander of the camp, Captain Yonoi, is not a typical tyrant, he and Sergeant Hara spend time with Lawrence trying to understand the western mentality. Yonoi and Lawrence realize the differences between both sides of the conflict, which keeps the status quo - British do not try any radical escapes, while the Japanese keep the prisoner harassment to minimum. The situation changes with arrival of new prisoner, a South African Major Jack Celliers serving in British army. Celliers is nicknamed Strafer by those who served with him in past, because of his natural leadership. Yonoi soon becomes obsessed with Celliers - during conversations with Lawrence he keeps asking about him, he visits him in a hut, where Celliers is interned. The status quo is soon destroyed when Celliers, noticing the unusual interest from Yonoi, begins to test how far he can go...
British war drama based on the Laurens van der Post novel, partly based on his own experience from World War 2, during which he was a prisoner on Java. It is similar to other war movies that take place in POW camps, but instead of concentrating on the efforts of the prisoners to escape or guards to prevent such attempts the story shows the uneasy dialogue between both sides - while Japanese have total control over the prisoners Yonoi tries to understand why they act so differently from his expectations in such situation. Lawrence on the other hand tries to keep Yonoi calm while guiding him to make a decisions better for the prisoners. It is a not easy movie to fully understand without adapting to those two different mentalities clashing in the POW camp.
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Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
as Major Jack Celliers
as Captain Yonoi
as Sergeant Hara
as Colonel John Lawrence
as Captain Hicksley
as De Jong
According to David Bowie, Nagisa Ôshima directed the Japanese actors with great detail, but when it came to the British actors he just told them to "do whatever it is you people do".
Director Nagisa Oshima for two crucial parts hired musicians turned into actors, David Bowie as Major Celliers and Ryuichi Sakamoto as Captain Yonoi. Sakamoto also wrote the soundtrack for the movie.
For the filming director Ryuichi Sakamoto built a whole camp on Rarotonga island (Cook Islands), even though only part of it was actually used for filming.
British captain has to make a difficult decision when his unit is lost in the middle of Burma jungle.