This classic and yet largely unknown film starred legend David Bowie and a stellar cast of characters. It tells the story of war, of enemies turned friends through fascination and respect. It tells of the struggles between otherwise adversaries, yet highlights the needlessness of war.
In 1942, Captain Yonoi (Sakamoto) is the commander of a POW camp in Japanese-occupied Java. His only source of connection to the prisoners is the empathetic Lt. Col. John Lawrence (Conti), the only inmate fluent in Japanese, and the abrasive spokesman Gp. Capt. Hicksley (Thompson), who repeatedly resists Yonoi's attempts to find weapons experts among the prisoners for the Japanese army's interests.
Lawrence befriends Sgt. Gengo Hara (Kitano), but remains at odds with the rest of the staff. Summoned to the military trial of the recently-captured Major Jack Celliers (Bowie), Yonoi is fascinated by his resilience and has him interred at the camp.
After the trial, Yonoi confides with Lawrence that he is haunted with shame due to his absence during the February 26 Incident, believing he should've died alongside the rebels and implying that his focus on honor stems from this. Sensing a kindred spirit in Celliers, Yonoi's fascination grows into a romantic obsession: he treats him specially, watches him sleep, and repeatedly asks Hara about him in private.
When the inmates are made to fast as punishment for insubordination during the forced seppuku of a guard (Okura), Celliers sneaks in food. The guards catch him and find a smuggled radio during the subsequent investigation, forcing him and Lawrence to take the blame. Yonoi's batman, realizing the hold Celliers has on him, attempts to kill Celliers in his sleep that night but fails after he wakes up and escapes, freeing Lawrence too.
Yonoi catches Celliers and challenges him to a duel in exchange for his freedom, but Celliers refuses; the batman returns and commits suicide for his failure, urging Yonoi to kill Celliers before his feelings overpower him.
At the funeral, Lawrence learns that he and Celliers will be executed for the radio, despite the lack of evidence, to preserve order in the camp; enraged, he trashes the funeral set and is forced back into his cell.
That night, Celliers reveals to Lawrence that as a teenager, he betrayed his younger brother, long bullied for his hunchback, by refusing to spare him a humiliating and traumatizing initiation ritual at their boarding school. Confronting his past, he describes the lifelong shame he felt towards his actions, paralleling Yonoi's predicament. During their conversation, the pair are released by a drunken Hara, as a different prisoner confessed to delivering the radio. As they leave, Hara calls out in English, "Merry Christmas, Lawrence!"
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence!
Willy Mitchell is an indie author, writer, and storyteller.
Mitchell's first title was Operation ARGUS, and then the sequel Bikini BRAVO where a group of former Special Air Service operatives enter the dark and murky world of maskirovka and discover the lengths that some people will go to for power and greed.
Cold COURAGE tells the epic tale of Shackleton's 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition and all that was happening in those extraordinary times.
Book four, Northern ECHO tells the story of two boys growing up during the punk rock revolution in the north of England, and how a dark secret keeps them apart until the end.
Gipsy MOTH is about his Aunt Nikki, her friend, and fellow Aviatrix, Amy Johnson, and Amelia Earhart on the other side of the pond during the golden age of aviation.
SS INDIGO is due to be released by the end of 2021 and tells the story of a group of eclectic guests invited by a mysterious billionaire to a luxury cruise on the Caribbean, they all have one thing in common.
All of Mitchell's books so far are novels, works of fiction, blended with real events. For further information or how to buy his books, visit his author website: