David Bowie stars in Nagisa Oshima’s portrait of friendship and obsession among four very different men confined in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java during World War II. In 1942, British officer Major Jack Celliers is captured by the Japanese and taken to a camp overseen by Captain Yonoi, a man fixated on discipline and the glory of imperial Japan. As the pair become locked in an obsessive psychological battle, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence, the only inmate with a degree of sympathy for Japanese culture, develops a friendship with Sergeant Hara, a compassionate man beneath his cruel façade. Oshima’s Palme d’Or-nominated masterpiece also stars the noted actor and director Takeshi Kitano, and marked the big screen debut of Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also composed the film’s BAFTA-winning score.
Introduction by Christopher Brown, University of Sussex.