The David Bowie Community of Australia and New Zealand

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence: FILMING IN THE COOK ISLANDS
Filming was ready to begin in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands soon after the director Oshima had won a court case over his film In The Realm of The Senses.

David Bowie, however, was contacted with only 3 weeks notice...
Above: Location of the Cook Islands.

"I'd just finished The Hunger and the last thing I wanted to do was make a movie" recalled Bowie.

I just wanted to have a holiday.

So I took advantage and took my holiday in the South Pacific.

I got to know the islands pretty well before Oshima got there with the crew, so by the time everyone arrived I felt pretty much as if I'd been on the island for some time, which, in fact, I was supposed to have been in my role."

~ David Bowie

Image sent in by Selwyn from Auckland

Shooting of the film occurred over seven weeks - five in the Cook Islands and later, a further two weeks New Zealand where most of the European casting was done.

Oshima worked at break neck speed - and scenes were done in only two takes.

There was
apparently no facilities on the island to do rushes or dalies (the first print of the days filming) so - as described by Bowie - they were sent off in brown paper bags to Tokyo - yet within four days of getting back to Tokyo, Oshima already had a rough edit finished.

Image sent in by Selwyn from Auckland

Jack Celliers

Bowie described his character, Jack Celliers, as "an English educated New Zealand major - one of the sub heroes of the plot".

The point of Jack's nationality has confused viewers because of the variations of accents heard in the film but also because of Bowie's slouch hat which is often mistaken as an Australian hat.

In fact, the hat is the type worn by units of the British Army in India. This also apparently confused the Japanese in Burma and led to reports that they were fighting Australians there.

Images sent in by Selwyn from Auckland

Initially Bowie had come to Oshima's attention following his appearance in a Japanese saki commercial (the project that prompted the song Crystal Japan), however, soon after, Oshima saw him in The Elephant Man.

Regarding the character, Bowie felt that a substantial skeleton was already hatched together in The Elephant Man, however, there was still a good amount of freedom which was a strong point of Oshima.

It is alleged that prior to Bowie, the role of Celliers had been turned down by Robert Redford.

Images sent in by Selwyn from Auckland