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Review Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983): A war film that appeals to the heart and soul!

genre: war, drama







Merry Christmas Mr/ Lawrence is one of those films that is not intended to be historically correct even if it is. It tries to tell you that despite cultural differences people are the same and that war and everything tied to it is destructive and pointless.

For the most part this classic seems slow and uneventful. However a lot is going on dramatically which requires an open mind and more important an open heart. Despite the display of horrors and cruelties the film is trying to tell the audience that there is no such thing as deliberate evil. The cultural differences and different perspectives on war is what could be perceived as such. However we are shown that the Japanese are just as human as the English. But like always when confronted with foreign practices a lot gets lost in translation. Takeshi Kitano as Sgt. Gengo Hara is an example of a character who seems sadistic but in fact is trying his hardest to be loyal, humane and just to everyone without betraying his own honour and people. 

Lawrence (Bill Conti) is supposed to represent people's conscience and reason. But like Sgr. Hara he struggles. Capt. Yonoi ( Ryuichi Sakamoto) from the moment he meets Maj. Jack 'Strafer' Celliers (David Bowie) is conflicted about a lot of things. It is implied he has deep feelings for him romantically. However I would like to think that he has found a kindred spirit and is trying to save him the best he can without upsetting the higher ups and his people. Jack Celliers on the other hand is not struggling or conflicted whatsoever. He is defiant from start to finish. It is explained why and while it is undeniably heroic he acts this way to make up for the wrongs he committed in the past. I have to admit that David Bowie is immensely cool when displaying his defiance. There is something about the way he carries himself that is very inspiring. 

But one element that really steals the show is Ryuichi Sakamoto's musical score. It's a prime example where the soundtrack alone gives depth to the events displayed on screen. If you aren't affected by this score it is safe to say you aren't human. Or that you simply lack taste. The soundtrack is immensely powerful and immerses you into the events and what the characters are going through without having to really explain what is going on. Next to that it is unbelievably beautiful.

Overall this film is a classic through and through that remains strong after multiple viewings. A must watch and one to own. 







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