[[caption-width-right:350: Come on, lads. Can't we all just get along?]]

''Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence'' is a 1983 film from Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, and is based on ''The Seed and the Sower'' by Sir Laurens van der Post. The film is set in a Japanese POW camp in Java during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, and focuses on the CultureClash and building tensions between the Japanese overseers and the British prisoners. Oh, and FoeYay. An awful, awful lot of foe yay.

Captain Yonoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto) is the [[IncrediblyLamePun straight]]-laced camp commandant, devoted to [[TheStoic discipline]], order and his [[PatrioticFervour beloved country]]. When he is called to attend the military trial of Major Jack Celliers (Music/DavidBowie), he is fascinated by the prisoner's display of honour and dignity. When Yonoi questions Celliers on whether he can prove he was tortured, Celliers gives him proof (by [[ShirtlessScene taking off his shirt]]), and it all goes downhill from there...

The situation is not helped by Hicksley, the prisoner rep, refusing point blank to furnish Yonoi with details of which prisoners are arms experts, stubbornly refusing to involve himself in any sort of attempts at cross-cultural understanding, and generally being an annoying and ignorant eejit. Caught in the middle of all this madness is the unfortunate [[TheWoobie Colonel Lawrence]] (Tom Conti) of the title. A mild-mannered man, Lawrence attempts to bridge the cultural gap between captives and captors, not that this is a guarantee of safety.

Examining power, cultural differences, tolerance, forgiveness and taboos, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence is very much a character and psychology-driven film, because POW camps aren't known for their exciting itineraries. The film is also of note for being a Japanese film set in a Japanese POW camp, meaning the director shares nationality with those in charge rather than the prisoners.
!!''Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence'' provides examples of:

* BilingualDialogue: {{Averted}} - Yonoi and Lawrence are the only people in the camp who are fluent in both languages. The others simply have to guess at what is being said.
* TheCaptain: Yonoi, obviously.
* CaliforniaDoubling: Notable for being filmed on-location in UsefulNotes/NewZealand and the Cook Islands. The above picture is from the Auckland central railway station as it appeared in the early 1980s.
* CaptainSmoothAndSergeantRough: Only slightly, in that Hara is certainly shown to be coarser and more down-to-earth than his superior officer, but is by no means the only one to dole out punishment and mistreatment to the prisoners.
* ChasteHero: Celliers has had "no romantic interludes of any real importance". It is (heavily) implied, however, that this is for [[{{straight gay}} another reason entirely]].
* CultureClash: Another main theme.
* CulturedWarrior: Yonoi: "To be or not to be... that is the question, Major Celliers." See also {{Samurai}}.
* {{Gayngst}}: Yonoi (and possibly Celliers, although this is more likely to have been at some point in the past). It's okay though. Yonoi is gayngsting enough for two.
* HeroicBSOD: Yonoi has one of these when [[spoiler: Celliers kisses him.]]
** At that exact moment, [[spoiler: Celliers steps back after the kiss and a brief look of terror (realizing he's just sealed a horrible fate) flashes across his face before he stoically settles it again]].
* HomoeroticSubtext
* UsefulNotes/TheLawsAndCustomsOfWar: The Geneva convention is invoked regularly by Hicksley, despite the fact that Yonoi claims it does not apply (Imperial Japan never signed it).
* {{Leitmotif}}: Assorted. Pay enough attention and they'll highlight what's going on under the surface - particularly in Yonoi's head, since Ryuichi Sakamoto was instructed to write the score with Yonoi in mind. The main theme is actually better known than the film itself.
* MagneticHero: Although being in a POW camp prevents the formation of any sort of merry band, Celliers seems to be one of these. Despite being of a lower rank and not knowing him particularly well at the outset, Celliers is immediately recognized by Lawrence, who is delighted to see him and speaks high praise of him to Yonoi. He is described as a natural leader, and assumes the role when [[spoiler: he defies the fast imposed by Yonoi]]. And his magnetic hero qualities are almost certainly related to [[{{even the guys want him}} what's bothering Yonoi]].
* MyGreatestFailure: Celliers is haunted by [[spoiler: his betrayal of his younger brother, a hunchback. On his brother's initial arrival in their all-boys boarding secondary school, Celliers did nothing to spare his brother the initiation ritual, knowing that his back would be the cause of derision. Despite being asked if he had any reason to want to keep his brother out of the ritual, Celliers states that his brother is perfectly fine. Why? Because he couldn't bear the shame of being associated with something imperfect. As a result of the mockery he endures during the ritual, Celliers' brother's spirit is crushed forever and he never sings again.]] This is also a case of [[{{ItsAllMyFault}} It's All My fault]]. Because it is.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: "I do wish they would stop hitting me..." - Lawrence
* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: [[spoiler: When Celliers tries to escape from the camp he seeks out Lawrence, who he finds tortured, delirious and hanging from a tree. He cuts him down and then attempts to make his escape, carrying the helpless Lawrence in his arms.]]
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Plenty, actually. [[{{The Woobie}} Lawrence]] is frequently the victim, playing a starring role in exciting features such as [[spoiler: being beaten brutally and left hanging by his hands from a tree overnight]]. Another example [[spoiler: Yonoi forcing the sick and dying prisoners to assemble, despite the medic's desperate plea that it's a war crime]].
* OfficerAndAGentleman: Both Lawrence and Yonoi.
* OneManArmy: It is implied that Jack "Strafer" Celliers is one of these.
* PatrioticFervor: Yonoi has lots and lots of this. Hara and Hicksley have their fair share as well.
* POWCamp: Yet another Japanese camp where you don't want to be a camper.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: All of the Japanese.
* RuleThirtyFour: {{Subverted}} - despite the beating, bondage, whipping, obsessions with discipline and control, hierarchical power structures, canonical {{Foe Yay}}, [[{{stalking is love}} watching people while they sleep]], and Music/DavidBowie there is next to no fanfiction about this film on the internet.
* {{Samurai}}: While Yonoi is not exactly one of these, he would clearly like to be.
* ShoutOutToShakespeare: Yonoi at the trial opens with "To be or not to be", presumably in an effort to make himself look cultured, as it has very little bearing on what he says next.
* StagedShooting: See picture above. In a fake execution, Celliers is told he has been found guilty of war crimes and is chained up in front of a firing squad. They shoot but - Surprise! Just kidding!
** Mock executions have been recognized internationally as a form of torture-not surprising for the period.
* StalkingIsLove: Yonoi asks Lawrence so many questions about Celliers that Lawrence comments on it (Yonoi avoids the question), and when Celliers is in solitary confinement [[spoiler: it is revealed that Yonoi goes 'on patrol' there *cough*watcheshimsleep*cough* every night.]]
* TheStoic: Yonoi and Hicksley. Particularly Yonoi, who is a machine of self-discipline.
* SurvivorGuilt: Yonoi was once part of an extreme military faction who staged an uprising against the government. The officers in charge of the uprising were all executed - apart from Yonoi.
* TallDarkAndHandsome: {{Inverted}} - it is mentioned in the film's special features that one of the reasons Yonoi is attracted to Celliers is his exotic blond hair.
* TitleDrop: By [[spoiler: Hara]], twice.
* WorldWarTwo
* WorthyOpponent: Yonoi initially takes an interest in Celliers because he is impressed by his bravery in the face of death. [[ShirtlessScene That, and he stripped half naked in the courtroom]].