Here’s a movie that is even stranger than it was intended to be. “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” is about a clash between two cultures (British and Japanese) and two styles of military service (patriotic and pragmatic). That would be enough for any movie, and there are scenes when it is enough, and the movie works pretty well.
But then the movie makes another contrast that doesn’t work so well, a contrast between basic views of theatrical acting styles. British tradition suggests that, everything else being equal, actors should behave as if they were real people in a real situation. The Japanese tend toward a more overwrought acting style, made of screams and grimaces, histrionics and dramatizations. Read More »