CRACKED ACTOR: BOWIE ON FILM - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

It’s not a wonderful life in this World War II drama. Tense, punishing, and bursting with homoeroticism, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is like Bridge on the River Kwai crossed with Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Japanese synth pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto plays a staunchly traditional Japanese soldier who becomes obsessed with one of his prisoners. And since that prisoner is played by David Bowie, you’ll probably become obsessed too. It’s not as hyper-explicit as Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (no unsimulated sex—sorry!), but there are more than enough loaded stares, sadistic punishments, and suggestive duels to go around, plus a haunting and evocative score by Sakamoto, including the 1983 hit “Forbidden Colours.”

Dir. Nagisa Ôshima, 1983, 35mm, 123 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!