This powerful wartime drama stars David Bowie in his most celebrated role as the enigmatic POW, Major Celliers. The story focuses on a battle fought between Celliers and the camp commander, Captain Yonnoi (Ryuichi Sakamoto). Celliers arrives at the camp following a harrowing Japanese trial in which he has refused to admit he is a criminal or express any sense of shame for his actions as a soldier. Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence (Tom Conti) is already held captive at the camp; he speaks Japanese and has a love and understanding of Japanese culture and he tries to act as a mediator. He knows Celliers, and knows that the Japanese will do everything they can to break his resilient spirit. Yonnoi is mystified by the new prisoner whom he fails to intimidate. He believes Celliers is an evil spirit and begins to feel his authority threatened. In a desperate attempt to restore his sense of power, he provokes Celliers into a final act of defiance that seals both their fates.