Skip to content
Eye Logo link to homepageEye Film Museum Logo, link to homepage
Eye Filmmuseum

for anytime

in all languages

still from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Furyo) (Nagisa Ōshima, GB/JP/NZ 1983)

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

Nagisa Oshima / GB, 1982 / 124 min.

The film that was Ryuichi Sakamoto’s debut as a film composer and actor. The film’s airy melody can be seen as the counterpart to its dark themes. Sakamoto was not the only pop star in the film; David Bowie played opposite him in possibly his best on-screen acting performance.

poster Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Furyo) (Nagisa Ōshima, GB/JP/NZ 1983)

The absurdities of war can create a paradoxical concoction of affinity and enmity between prisoner and guard. In Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence this is exemplified in the curious obsession camp commander Yonoi (Sakamoto) displays for his prisoner Jack Celliers (David Bowie). Other leading roles are played by Tom Conti and allround Japanese film legend Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano.

Sakamoto immediately made his mark with his debut score. The well-known main theme is both catchy and melancholic. The score brilliantly combines string arrangements with sharp synthesizers, reminiscent of Yellow Magic Orchestra, that extremely successful band in which Sakamoto was still actively involved at the time.

Sakamoto even managed to enter the pop charts with his film music. The song Forbidden Colours, based on the film’s main theme and sung by Japan frontman David Sylvian, became a modest hit.



Nagisa Oshima

Production year




Original title

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence


124 min.


English, Japanese





Part of

Holland Festival 2021

This year, Eye puts the spotlight on Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of the associate artists of the Holland Festival 2021. Sakamoto's latest work Time will premiere during the festival, an unconventional wordless opera he made together with visual artist Shiro Takatani. Eye will organise seven accompanying programmes in June focusing on Sakamoto's illustrious career.

Learn more
Ryuichi Sakamoto © nss (zakkubalan)
still from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Furyo) (Nagisa Ōshima, GB/JP/NZ 1983)
still from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Furyo) (Nagisa Ōshima, GB/JP/NZ 1983)

Planning on having a drink or a bite to eat? Book online for Eye Bar Restaurant.