Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence Blu-Ray

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence - 1984

Jeremy Thomas Productions - 122 min.

DVD UPC/EAN # 5028836030034; 5060034570998; 4009750214015;9788320813524; 9315842007195; 715515061919; 8713053001451; 3700173204027
Blu-ray UPC/EAN # 715515062015(Criterion US); 9344256001765(AU/NZ); 5055201818720(UK Blu-ray & dvd); 5027035021829 (UK); 9344256024467(AU/NZ)

Cast: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Beat Takeshi, Jack Thompson, Johnny Okura, Alistair Browning.
Screenplay: Nagisa Oshima with Paul Mayersberg; Photography: Toichiro Narushima; Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto; Editor: Tomoyo Oshima; Producer: Jeremy Thomas; Director: Nagisa Oshima.

In 1942 Java, after the Japanese have invaded and taken British soldiers prisoner, beating and idiosyncratic Japanese practices are the new order. A New Zealand soldier (Bowie) is captured on a mission and brought into this environment where, in spite of the hostility, there is attraction in various ways between jailers and prisoners. There is much depth to this film and you might find it useful to view it a second time. There is a homoerotic undercurrent to the story that adds tension. Wonderful soundtrack and production design, with settings in Raratonga and Auckland.

Censor rating: M - Review rating: B+

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
Official MP4 Trailer


New R4 PAL DVDs sell for about $15au or $20nz. R2 PAL DVDs can be found from UK sources for about 10#. Most dvds are 1.80:1 with 2.0 dolby digital sound, but non-anamorphic. The "Collector's Edition" version is anamorphic (enhanced for 16x9). The 'Optimum Classic' or "Collector's Edition" R2 DVD, selling for 15-20#, has been digitally remastered from a new 35mm print containing extras of: "The Oshima Gang, Making of a Documentary"; interviews with Nagisa Oshima, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jeremy Thomas; trailers. There is also an Australian/NZ R0 PAL version of the "Collector's Edition" which sells for about $25au or $25nz. The R0 NTSC versions coming from Brazil are NOT in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio - they are 1.33:1 pan & scan.

NOTE: Starting 28 September, 2010, this great film finally became available R1 NTSC. Not only that, but on the same date it also became available on Region A 1080p Blu-ray. This release comes from The Criterion Collection and their information reads similiar to that for the Optimum Classic Collector's Edition outlined above, except that this is a 2-disc set with the second disc containing the extras of: New video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Paul Mayersberg, actor Tom Conti and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto; a new hour-long documentary about author Laurens van der Post, 'Hasten Slowly'; a new booklet featuring an essay by film critic Chuck Stephens. The feature disc is a newly restored high-definition master with new and improved English subtitle translation. The soundtrack of the Blu-ray is DTS-HD Master Audio. The 2-disc dvd set sells for $20-25us and the Blu-ray single disc for $30-35us.

Starting 11 May 2011, a region B Blu-ray "vanilla" single disc became available in Australia and New Zealand selling for about $30. Note: As of June 2014, this Region B Blu-ray was selling for under $20.

StudioCanal (UK) has a 2-disc offering - one dvd and one blu-ray, selling for about 12#. Both disc are 1.85:1 with spoken English with Japanese and optional English subtitles on the blu-ray. The dvd is PAL R2 with a DD 2.0 soundtrack. The Blu-ray is a 1080p region B with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and an LPCM mono, both in English. It has the same extras as the "Collector's Edition" mentioned above, plus an excerpt from - Scenes by the Sea - The Life and Cinema of "Beat" Takeshi Kitano.

A Blu-ray version from Arrow Academy (UK) had a 15 June 2020 release. It is an all-regions disc, selling for about 18#. There are optional English subtitles. Extras include: Original uncompressed stereo audio; ' The Man Who Left His soul On Film' (1983), Paul Joyce's 82 minute documentary profile of Nagisa Oshima; 'The Oshima Gang' (1983) , a 30 minute documentary following the film's cast and makers at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival; Video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto; Exclusive newly filmed interview with critic Tony Rayns; Original theatrical trailer; image gallery; Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley; and with the first pressing only: A 36 page Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jasper Sharp.

An Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray will be released in Australia and New Zealand starting 02 February 2022. It has spoken English with Japenese 5.1 & 2.0 DTS HD-MA. It also has optional English subtitles. Extras: The Oshima Gang Featurette (The Making Of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence), An Interview With producer Jeremy Thomas, An Interview With actor/composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, An excerpt from "Scenes by the Sea: The Life and Cinema of Beat Takeshi Kitano" and the Theatrical Trailer.

Aro Video of Wellington has rental copies available for New Zealand addresses

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Gordon S. Miller Blu-ray Review at HighDefDigent

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Dr. Svet Atanasov Criterion Region A Blu-ray Review

Dr. Svet Atanasov Studio Canal Region B Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review and Comments at Home Theater Forum

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Movie Review Query - 25 articles

Four Word Film Review

"Set in a torture- and- hara- kiri- ridden World War II P.O.W camp, this international co- production explores the free floating, samurai- stern sexual attraction between Japanese jailers and their British captives [...] " - (J. Hoberman, "Rockers", The Village Voice, September 6, 1983)

An Anglo-Japanese co-production, set in wartime Java. Hard to accept David Bowie as the epitome of military toughness, but not bad as a study of the military mentality and its limits. All the critics noticed the homo-erotic overtones, but everyone overlooked the clear religious references to Jack Celliers as a Christ figure. (Nicholas Reid - 'A Decade of New Zealand Film')


VIDEO VAULT - Links to trailers and clips for all titles.

NZ On Screen Videos & Comments

The N to Z of Film on SoundCloud

2016 World Soundtrack Awards: Ryuichi Sakamoto plays 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence'

'Radio with Pictures' Bowie NZ Interview at the time of "Merry Christmas" production.

Complete Script at Script-O-Rama.

New Zealand Film Archive Info

Information at IMDB

Internet Movie Poster Awards


1983 - National Board of Review, NYC - Best Actor: Tom Conti
1984 - BAFTA - Best Film Score.
1984 - Japanese Academy - Most Popular Film, Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Takeshi Kitano)
1984 - Kinema Junpo - Reader's Choice Award - Best film
1984 - Mainichi Film Concours - Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Takeshi Kitano), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film Score.
1984 - Turkish Film Critics Association - Best Foreign Film

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