Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence [videorecording] / a Jeremy Thomas production ; a Nagisa Oshima film ; screenplay by Nagisa Oshima with Paul Mayersberg ; producer, Jeremy Thomas ; directed by Nagisa Oshima ; National Film Trustee Company ; made in association with Antares-Nova N.V., Recorded Picture Company, Oshima Productions, Asahi National Broadcasting Co. Ltd. and Broadbank Investments Limited.

Video/Projected medium
  • English
  • Japanese
[Irvington, NY] : Criterion Collection, c2010.
2 videodiscs (123 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (28 p. : col. ill. ; 19 cm.)


Related name
Library of Congress genre(s)
Summary note
In a Japanese prison camp on Java in 1942, two British officers, John Lawrence and Jack Celliers, encounter camp commander Yonoi and his sergeant Hara. Things had been going pretty well, until charismatic, rebellious Celliers arrived. Yonoi is a devotee of the samurai ideal; neither he nor Hara can understand the stoic way in which the British prisoners accept their situation of defeat. Lawrence speaks Japanese, and ceaselessly tries to mediate between the prisoners and their overseers, translating both the words the values of the two races. Celliers attitude, however, is more comprehensible to Yonoi. He and Celliers arrive at a sort of détente, based on an admiration for the other, but this eventually turns into a contest of wills as the camp's carefully nurtured equilibrium is destroyed.
  • Based on the novel "The seed and the sower" by Sir Laurens Van der Post.
  • Originally produced as a motion picture in 1983.
Creation/​Production credits
Director of photography, Toichiro Narushima ; production designer, Jusho Toda ; music, Ryuichi Sakamoto ; editor, Tomoyo Oshima ; interpreter, Didi Dickson.
System details
DVD; Region 1, NTSC; Dolby digital 2.0 stereo; widescreen presentation, preserving the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibition, enhanced for 16:9 televisions.
David Bowie (Celliers), Tom Conti (Lawrence), Ryuichi Sakamoto (Yonoi), Takeshi [Kitano] (Hara), Jack Thompson (Hicksley).
Language note
In English and Japanese with optional subtitles in English.
  • Disc one. The film Opening sequence -- Disgraceful incident -- "A bloody farce" -- Firing squad -- New prisoner -- "We want to win" -- "Do you feel uneasy?" -- "We're all wrong" -- Flowers and food -- Escape -- "We must punish someone" -- "Something's changed" -- "Ride right through the day" -- Father Christmas -- "Go back!" -- "Things will be different now" -- 1946 -- Closing credits -- Color bars (1982) (123 min.); Trailer (3 min.).
  • Disc two. The supplements: Featurettes The Oshima gang: the making of 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' / Mr. Lawrence Productions (2005) (30 min.) -- Paul Mayersberg: On the screenplay (2010) (28 min.) -- Conti, Sakamoto, and Thomas: On location (2010) (40 min.) -- Ryuichi Sakamoto: On the music (2010) (18 min.) -- Hasten slowly: The journey of Sir Laurens van der Post / Lemle Pictures presents ; a film by Mickey Lemle ; produced and directed by Mickey Lemle ; produced by Lemle Pictures, Inc. in association with South African Broadcasting Co. (1996) (55 min.); Booklet contains the essays "Lawrence of Shinjuki" by Chuck Stephens, "Oshima: Sex, militarism, and empire" an interview of Nagisa Oshima by Tadao Sato, and "Ten questions for Kitano on Oshima" translated from the Japanese by Fumiko Takagi.
  • 1604653159
  • 9781604653151
Publisher no.
Universal Product Code
  • 715515061919
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