Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto deliver compelling performances as a POW and his captor.
David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takeshi Kitano
UK-Japan-New Zealand 1983. 123min
Some English subtitles
Bowie and Sakamoto (another musician-turned-actor) play strangely bonded antagonists in this study of brutalisation and repressed desire in a Japanese POW camp. Bowie’s dyed blonde hair crowns a visage shaded by rockstar excess and sexual ambiguity as Major Celliers, a man haunted by his past who’ll risk everything to defy his captor, Captain Yonoi. Electrifying scenes between the two leads, under Oshima’s spare direction, are boldly underlined by Sakamoto’s powerful score.
Joint ticket available with David Bowie: So I Felt Like an Actor on Saturday 8 January, £15, concessions £12 (Members pay £2 less).
Also available on BFI Player.