By Peggy Nelson
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence – dir. Nagisa Oshima – 1983
Prisoner of war films offer an eye-of-the-storm perspective from which to contemplate the chaos of war. In the tradition of Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion (1937), and David Lean’s Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence investigates the psyches of men from very different cultures in this tale of British captives in a Japanese POW camp. Co-written by Oshima and Paul Mayersberg from an Afrikaner’s published memoirs, Oshima uses the perspective of the non-Japanese to turn his lens on WWII Japan.