The Pop Stars Moonlighting Blogathon 2020

Here is my entry in this month’s blogathon, hosted by
Gill has picked the theme of well-known music artists in acting roles, and I have chosen David Bowie.

This is actually a two-for-one post, as the film co-stars Ryuichi Sakamoto. He also composed the music for the soundtrack, and is a famous musician in his native Japan. To add a third musician to the mix, the theme song from the film, ‘Forbidden Colours’, was sung by David Sylvian.

As a lifelong fan of the music of David Bowie, I eagerly watched all of his acting roles too. When this film came out in 1983, I went to see it at a cinema in London.
***Plot spoilers included***

The story is set during WW2, in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for allied captives. As well as the two stars, we are treated to some excellent supporting actors, including Takeshi Kitano, Tom Conti, and Jack Thompson.

Soon after Major Celliers (Bowie) arrives at the camp, the commandant Captain Yonoi (Sakamoto) develops a fixation on him. Meanwhile, Celliers has become close to the senior British officer, Colonel Lawrence, (Conti) and soon develops a reputation as a troublemaker, and one of the spokesman for the poor conditions that the prisoners have to endure. Despite Celliers outward defiance and rebellious attitude, Yonoi fails to punish him, and it becomes obvious that he has an overwhelming crush on the attractive prisoner. This alarms the Japanese guards, and one urges his commander to kill Celliers, rather than face the shame of discovery.

But Yonoi is unable to do that, and is eventually replaced because of his lack of leadership. His successor is aware of what transpired between Celliers and Yonoi, and immediately informs the prisoner that he can expect no mercy from him. To punish him for disgracing his colleague, Celliers is buried up to his neck in sand, and left to die.

This film is beautifully shot, and the location convincing. As befits a film starring two international recording artists, the soundtrack is simply perfect, and so appropriate for the mood. Both the leads deliver excellent peformances, alongside those supporting actors who are always completely reliable.

Thirty-seven years later, it is still as powerful and interesting as it was in 1983.

42 thoughts on “The Pop Stars Moonlighting Blogathon 2020

  1. Can’t believe I have yet to see this one…now I must! Bowie was almost as prolific an actor as he was a musician…a true Renaissance man.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Mona Lisa was a 1986 crime drama, and a very good one. The song featured was by Genesis, when Phil Collins was still in that band. (This from IMDB)
          ‘This movie featured the Genesis song “In Too Deep”, which also featured on the band’s best-selling album “Invisible Touch”, released in 1986. The song was written primarily by Phil Collins after he was asked to write a song for this movie soundtrack, but is credited to all three members of the band. It became a hit in the U.K. and the U.S. The song is heard almost in its entirety in the middle of the movie.’
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never really explored David Bowie’s music, though I’m familiar with a couple of his songs. The only movies I’ve seen him perform in as an actor are:
    The Man Who Fell to Earth (original theatrical release)
    The Hunger (own on DVD)
    The Prestige (own on DVD)
    Of course, I’ve seen various pop stars perform in films (Madonna, for example). Hollywood has always turned to musical talent when casting films, with mixed results.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Terrific choice Pete…of all of Bowie’s film work, this was one of the most original, unique and impressive…he showed a range in his acting that he didn’t share often in his work…

    Liked by 3 people

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