Friday, December 3, 2010
Christmarathon Day 3: Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
This wasn't a bad movie -- in fact, it was a very good movie -- it just wasn't a Christmas movie. The other day I did a Netflix search for things like "Christmas," "Santa," "Holiday," and other such keyterms. When this one popped up, it sounded interesting. It's a film about POWs in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II. It's a powerful, emotional story that only happens to take place over Christmas, though the Holiday and the film's title have very little to do with the actual story.
But it was a good film and I'm glad I watch it, even if it was incredibly depressing and harrowing. The story is told from the point of view of a couple of Japanese soldiers and a couple of English prisoners, and of the bonds they make, the relationships they forge, and the hardships they all must endure. It's an epic tale with lots of flashbacks, interludes, and amazing cinematography. It's also a bit too long and a bit too slow in its pacing, so it's a bit boring in places.
David Bowie is the star of the movie, and he's really a fantastic actor. His character is larger than life and incredibly charismatic, and Bowie gives him an almost angelic quality. The flashback where he's supposed to be a kid in school was a bit too much to take, however, since he looked exactly the same and stood about a foot taller than all of the other kids. It was odd.
The movie is also worth watching for the portrayal of the Japanese customs and ways of life. The film definitely shows the dichotomy separating Eastern and Western cultures better than almost any other film I've ever seen. The scenes of the rituals of Seppuku in particular were incredibly well done. Ritual suicide has been something most films have either glorified or glossed over, while this film really showed how awful and painful it must be to impale yourself with a knife to your belly. It was hard core.
So I liked this movie, even if it wasn't really a Christmas movie. It was good enough that I recommend checking it out if you get the chance, but not such a classic that I recommend paying money to seek it out. But I'm glad I took the chance and checked it out.