Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Christmas is approaching. I'm not big on Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter; maybe it has something to do with what I wrote about in yesterday's post about the ultimate irrelevance of any date on the calendar.
Or maybe, especially regarding the holidays near the end of each year, it has something to do with the fact that the spirit of love, mutual understanding and caring, should be our default demeanor, not just reserved for these special days. I believe there's something truly sad about many of us using the holidays as an excuse to meet family; how often do I hear colleagues from work and friends tell me that they HAVE to meet up with family, like it's a task they must perform once per year...
Maybe it's just the over-commercialization of these days, or a mixture of all of the above, but Christmas for me doesn't hold much special meaning. Being honest about this hasn't always been easy, but within my own family it's been accepted and I do visit family members, just not specifically on the holidays. I wish anyone I meet during the holiday season a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays without making a real distinction between the two, but I realize this is for a great part an automated behavior... But sometimes the wishes a true and heartfelt; I don't have to be into Christmas myself to be able to truly wish others a good time. I'm also not religious, but I'll never force that opinion upon anyone who wishes to believe and gets something out of that belief.
The most beautiful "Merry Christmas" for me personally, is the Merry Christmas from the 1983 movie Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. For the time it was an extremely long film of two hours, but watching it, it seems even longer because there's no action, a lot of dialogue in English and Japanese and the subject is kind of gruesome. The synopsis is as follows:
In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honor and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are cowards when they chose to surrender instead of committing suicide. One of the prisoners, interpreter John Lawrence, tries to explain the Japanese way of thinking, but is considered a traitor. - source: IMDB
It's really about the clash of two cultures and has a magnificent role by David Bowie. Mr. Lawrence, played by Tom Conti, is the interpreter and develops a sense of respect and admiration for the ruthless, but honorable Japanese soldiers. For me the stars of this film are Mr. Lawrence and the Japanese sergeant Hara, next to David Bowie of course. While the English prisoners of war are being treated brutally in the Japanese prisoner camp, the movie ends with Japan's defeat in the war. In the very last scene, Sgt. Hara is locked up in an Allied cell, waiting to be executed, where Lawrence pays him one last visit... And this is where I always lose it; till this day this scene brings tears to my eyes. When Lawrence walks to the prison door to leave, Hara shouts with all the authority he has in his voice: "Lawrence!!" Lawrence turns around to receive the best Christmas wishes ever... Just watch for yourself: