Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Read Owen Van Spall's film review of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

The digital transfer is fine enough, though Oshima's 35mm film is probably never going to stun compared to today's high definition showcase films given how it was shot. The audio mix is solid though, helping bring out Sakamoto's score.

The real meat is in the extras. A film this odd, from such a legendary director and fronted by such an assortment of a personalities truly has must have some interesting tidbits to unearth from the archives. This DVD does deliver, though the previous US Criterion release remains the one to beat for extras and sadly not all are retained here.

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Apart from the usual trailers, there is a 1983 30-minute featurette The Oshima Gang which is a making of documentary that was put together during the film's release period. Its most interesting moments come from couch interviews with a young and amazingly dressed (but intelligent and quite modest) Bowie, and Laurens Van Der Post who wrote the novel upon which the film was based and which came from his own personal experiences. British Producer Jeremy Thomas offers insights into working closely with Oshima, why Bowie didn't write the soundtrack, and dealing with Conti's need to crash-course the Japanese language. Footage and commentary from Cannes highlight what a buzz the film caused.

There are also interview featurettes with Oshima, Sakamoto, and the very informative producer Thomas. An extra documentary showing excerpts from Kitano's work feels a bit out of place even though it is fun.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2011
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Product Code: OPTBD 0065

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Stereo PCM 2.0, DTS HD

Extras: The Oshima Gang – making of featurette, documentary, interviews, trailer

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