The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito. He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy. Unknown to him, the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle, led by Warden and an American, Shears, to blow up the bridge. Runtime: 161 mins Release Date: 13 Dec 1957
Within the Conflict that was World War II, there were many more smaller, more personal conflicts which, when added up, made a significant impact on the outcome of the War; though trying to explain them, or war in general, is like attempting to decipher the indecipherable. In `The Bridge On the River Kwai,' director David Lean takes you deep into the Burmese jungle to examine some of these deeper conflicts, and the effects of extraordinary circumstances on some ordinary men: British Colonel Nicholson Alec Guinness is a man of rigid principles and ideals, to whom acquiescence in any <more>
quarter is not an option; Japanese Colonel Saito Sessue Hayakawa lives by an inflexible code of conduct and is adamant in his adherence to it, through which he maintains his dignity and honor; American Navy Commander Shears William Holden just wants to make it through the war alive and get back home. As an integral part of their war effort, the Japanese have ordered a strategic bridge to be built across the Kwai River to facilitate the transport of troops and equipment. This monumental task has been given to Saito, the commandant of an allied prisoners-of-war camp; and not only must he build it, it must be completed by a specific date. And time is short. Toward that end, Saito has pressed into service every prisoner, including officers, whom according to the Geneva Convention of 1864 which established rules for the humane treatment of prisoners of war , are to be excluded from any manual labor. When a fresh contingent of British prisoners arrives to bolster his complement of workers, Saito finds himself up against a formidable opponent, Nicholson, who immediately informs Saito that his officers will not work, in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention. And it's the beginning of another war-- a war of wills-- between two men determined to win at any cost. To Saito, this is more than just another assignment, it's an obligation, and failure is not an option. If he does not succeed in having the bridge built-- and on time-- he will be forced to take his own life, in accordance with his own moral code. Nicholson, on the other hand, is unyielding to the point of madness, and will die before he accedes to Saito's demands. Meanwhile Shears has managed by some miracle to escape and has made his way back to Ceylon. And he's home free-- after some recuperation time at Mount Lavinia Hospital, he'll be on his way back to the states. Or so he thinks. But unbeknownst to him, the British are aware of the bridge being built on the Kwai, and are planning a commando raid to destroy it. And Shears has something they need: First hand knowledge of the precise location, and of the jungle through which he made his miraculous escape. Subsequently, the Navy agrees to `loan' Shears to the British, to aid them with their mission. So instead of a ticket home, Shears is faced with another arduous trek through an uncompromising jungle, all for a mission of which the odds against success are nearly incalculable. From the beginning of the film to it's spectacular climax, Lean builds and maintains a subtle tension that underscores the drama, which makes this a compelling, unforgettable motion picture. Lean is the Master of epic films such as this, filling them with sweeping visuals while integrating them with the emotional involvement of his characters perfectly. Lean knows what he wants and how to get it, and he takes a terrific story and this definitely is one and tells it by using every bit of space--visually and audibly-- at this disposal. And most importantly, he knows how to get the kind of performances from his actors to put it all across so convincingly and believably. Alec Guinness deservedly received the Oscar for Best Actor for his role of Nicholson, whom he embodies from the inside out, disappearing so utterly into the character that the actor is forgotten, leaving nothing but the real man in his stead. It's a superlative piece of acting from one of the truly great actors of all times. Holden, as well, delivers an outstanding performance as Shears, capturing that somewhat embittered, off-handed sarcasm and resignation of a man trapped by circumstances beyond his control, who nevertheless does what he can to make the most of it, while awaiting the first opportunity for escape that affords itself. Holden's work here is Award-worthy, as well, but was destined to forever remain in the shadows of what is probably the definitive Guinness performance. And what a rare treat, having two performances of this caliber in a single film. Other notable performances include Hayakawa, entirely convincing as the tormented Saito, and Jack Hawkins, as demolition expert Major Warden, the absolute personification of the undaunted British stiff-upper-lip. The supporting cast includes James Donald Clipton , Geoffrey Horne Joyce , Percy Herbert Grogan , Ann Sears Nurse and Andre Morell Green . Beautifully filmed and expertly crafted and delivered, `The Bridge On the River Kwai' is one of David Lean's masterpieces. It's an emotionally involving, dramatic action/adventure that offers some real insight into the determination and tenacity of the human spirit. This film especially the ending is one you will never forget; a classic in every sense of the word, it exemplifies the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
I heard a film critic once say that there really aren't "war movies"; there are only "anti-war" movies. I'm still not sure what I think of that claim, but having seen - The Bridge on the River Kwai- enough times in the past several years, I think I'm persuaded that it's at least half right. -Kwai-, I believe, is both a "war" and "anti-war" movie, and, in my view, it succeeds admirably at both.There is almost no element of -Kwai- that is not praise-worthy. David Lean's direction is tight and evocative. The cinematography is great <more>
even though the color seems increasingly drained in film versions that I have seen . The acting is top-notch. I honestly believe that this is Alec Guiness's best performance, and Sessue Hayakawa is also highly sympathetic and believable. William Holden and Jack Hawkins round out the cast nicely.The musical score is also right on. Simply put, -Kwai- is an excellently constructed film made by people who obviously cared a great deal about it. As a result, the viewer comes to care a great deal about it as well.Clearly -Kwai- is an anti-war film. There is no glorification here. War is brutal, period. It's brutality is not captured here in terms of gory carnage or senseless battles. Instead, the psychological dimension of brutality comes across clearly. Yet, -Kwai- also shows the resilience of the human spirit as well as its complexity. One is left wondering if participation in World War II not only psychologically brutalized the characters played by Guiness, Hayakawa, and Holden but also if it simultaneously uplifted them. The paradox is striking to me each time I view this film. War can act both as a positive and negative catalyst, and it can do both of these things at the same instant.So, is -The Bridge on the River Kwai- a war movie or an anti-war movie? I think Lean clearly preferred the latter, but the subject matter and his approach to it may have landed somewhere in between.Regardless, -Kwai- is a fantastic film experience and is not to be missed. It is, simply put, my very favorite film--bar none.
Of all war movies this is the one with the best idea behind it. Think how easy it is to make a bad war movie. A group of people must blow up a bridge, and this is the story of their quest ... Actually, that DID serve as the premise for a film: it was called `Force Ten from Navarone', and it was dire. Or how about this one: we see close up the brutalities of war. Then we see them again. Then we see some more of the brutalities of war. Then we see the credits. Or how about this: a humble American soldier, with the pragmatism native to his breed, rejects his superiors' highfalutin talk <more>
First off, what is so amazing about this film is that, for the time that it was made, how modern it looks. David Lean certainly had the eye of any modern director and managed to direct a visual masterpiece at a time when many films were still being shot in black and white. William Holden gives one of his finest performances as a cynic of warfare , citing for us the insanity and absurdity that the combatants often convey. And he hates the war, but he cannot avoid been thrown back into it again and again. We wish he could stay on the beach with his nurse lover, but he is a man destined for a <more>
tragic doom for his country, whether he wants to or not. Alec Guiness also delivers a fine performance as a bold general whose own pride is, at the same time, his most noble quality as well as his greatest fault. He is uncompromising, yet when the Japanese submit to his demands, he begins overseeing the construction of the bridge with great esteem. Eventually, for him, the bridge becomes a manifestation of his belief of the superiority of the British Army, which he follows like a religion. And in putting all his pride into this bridge, he loses sight of even the British's own true agenda. Truly, his sense of overwhelming honor is, at the same time, his downfall in a descent to a loss of morality, and a sense of good and evil. And yes, by the end of this film, we learn a great lesson of the horrors of war. Not only does it take the lives of many good men, but the utter failure and despair that accompany it make it an unbearable existence. And this message has only recently been re-evaluated with the also-brilliant masterpiece "Saving Private Ryan." But, keep in mind that it took forty years to regain the power that this film inspired so long ago.
Winner of 7 Academy Awards... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" like Jean Renoir's "Grand Illusion" is an anti-heroic war film, set in a prisoner of war camp environment... But there, the point of resemblance came to an end... "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is an adventure film in which the nature of World War II is explored... And if in "Grand Illusion" the characters were described by a great artist who treasures their common humanity, in "The Bridge on the River Kwai" they are forced to carry out their destinies by an officer who cannot bear to see his <more>
bridge blown up...Escape is almost impossible from the Japanese camp located near the Kwai River in Burma... The prisoners are badly treated by cruel guards... The camp commander is a rigid psychopath... Conditions are hard to bear... Psychological state of the war British prisoners in constant alteration...Into the presumptuous situation comes Colonel Nicholson Alec Guinness in a fascinating performance , a strict, serene, dedicated British Officer, deeply concerned for the welfare of his men...Nicholson is under severe pressure from the stubborn Japanese Colonel Saito Sessue Hayakawa for insisting on his attachment to the Geneva convention and refusing to allow his officers to be used on the construction of the strategic bridge...Nichilson survives the oppressive punishment imposed on him, but his obsession has risen to near-madness... He agrees to help the Japanese build their bridge, and in his determination to find victory in defeat, he ignores that the bridge, which he insists must be a 'proper bridge,' will serve the Japanese objectives against the British troops...In addition to the powerful rules of a prison camp picture, captors against captives and an interesting moral respect to a military code, a third element, in the story, is introduced: a small commando team led by Major Warden Jack Hawkins and an American sailor William Holden whose mission is to destroy the strategic bridge..The film leads swiftly to a suspenseful climax: a Japanese train and a Commando force directed to a same goal, the Brige of the River Kwai...Each character, in the motion picture, has a valid reason for what he is doing, and each elaborates a relationship to the bridge revealed to be obsession and insane..."The Bridge on the River Kwai" hits with 'war' in a compelling logic of events, the indulgence of self-destruction.With a great visual beauty and terrific whistling tune March, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is a great dramatic entertainment of the wills of men...
This may be the best war movie -- if that's what it is -- that was ever put together. I don't think it would be made today. It was expensive and there were no women in it to speak of, and any committee member with an MBA reading the script would wonder why there wasn't more action. Further, the movie hasn't got any magnificent computerized graphics going for it. And we hardly see any blood. And nobody's head gets blown apart. And there's not a foul word in it.David Lean has pulled off a neat stunt, making a superb film with a good script, great performances, effective <more>
location shooting, a subtext that provokes thought, a marvelously believable set of characterizations -- and no gimmicks.It begins traditionally enough, with red mud and brilliant green foliage, and an authentic prisoner of war camp into which Nicholson's captured battalion marches proudly. The first real hint we get of the film's originality is when the men are marching in place to Colonel Bogey's march and we get one or two shots of feet stomping up and down on the wet gravel. One pair of feet wears only half shoes. The toes are pointing out of the right shoe. On the left shoe, the upper has separated from the sole, and it flaps up and down as the foot inside it drives into the earth. Not only is the shot THERE but it's lingered over, just long enough.William Holden is running through the bushes, trying to escape from the camp, disturbing flocks of bird that chirp madly at him. One of his Japanese pursuers shoots him and he tumbles into a turbulent river. In any Hollywood movie, the drop would be done by a stunt man in the usual manner -- head over heels, arms flailing, off the cliff. Not here. Holden falls feet first, hands and palms held out at his sides, as if expecting to land on a trampoline. He simply doesn't FALL like a professional.The film is loaded with grace notes like this. It's difficult to imagine a director willing to take the time to fine tune his film like this today because both the people making films and the viewers themselves are impatient to get on with the story and reach the next scene that has sex, blood, or comedy in it. I wonder if it's coincidental that people now categorize themselves as fans of one or another basketball team instead of a baseball team. Watching a baseball game calls for patience while the batter digs his cleated shoes into the dirt around the plate. Basketball is all momentum and no patience is required.I won't go on about the movie except to say that it's masterly in almost every respect. But I guess I will mention one more thing of the sort that impressed me, dealing with characterization. Throughout the movie, we've been told and shown that Nicholson cares for nothing so much as the bridge itself. He began by thinking of it as a way to keep up the men's morale and a reason for keeping discipline, but it has come to have functional autonomy, eclipsing everything else in importance. Note the way Guiness's eyes light up in the day-for-night scene when he's told that similar bridges built of English elms have lasted for three hundred years. "Three hundred years!", he marvels.Likewise, the supporting character of Joyce, on the commandos, is shown as being uncertain of whether he could use his knife in hand to hand combat or not. When an armed Japanese soldier appears at arm's length, Joyce freezes and Jack Hawkins dashes in to kill the man. These two traits -- Nicholson's obsession with the bridge and Joyce's inability to use a knife -- are set up so that the final and only confrontation between Nicholson and Joyce can take place the way it does. Nicholson screams, "Blow up the BRIDGE?", grabs Joyce's legs and pulls him down to the sand, preventing Joyce from reaching the detonator. Commandoes be damned, nobody is going to destroy his bridge. Hawkins and Holden shout from the opposite bank of the river, urging Joyce to "kill him!" But Joyce can't kill him without using a knife, which we know he will be unable to do.It's a perfect payoff for what we've learned about the two men.Did Nicholson deliberately throw himself on the detonator as he was dying or did he fall on it by accident? Who cares. If he did it deliberately it would be a heroic act since he finally "came to his senses." But an accident would be more in keeping with the ironic tone of the rest of the film. At the end, everyone and everything of importance is dead except Clipton the humanitarian doctor who tells us unnecessarily that this is "madness" -- and those floating vultures with their Olympian view of these goings-on.It's a gripping movie from beginning to end, a magnificent job by everyone involved.
I have watched this movie several times and it is just getting better and better all the time. Why? Because this movie actually has a message built-in, this isn't a violent story, like "Saving Private Ryan" - also a good movie with a message - but it is still not a slow story.When I last saw it, I realised that there was something in the movie that I had never understood, this isn't a movie about war, torture or how it was to be a prisoner of war; this is a movie about madness and pride. The pride shows both in Saiko and Colonel Nicholson, they are so full of it that it is <more>
almost impossible for them to come to a civil-conclusion with the problems they have with each other. The madness is shown in Colonel Nicholson and Holden's character - here they are, two prisoners of war and they don't want to help each other out, instead they try to reach separate goals, and they are both willing to die for it.After you have watched this movie one is amazed by the performances made by Alec Guinness and William Holden and I must say that this is therefore one of the best War/Drama movies ever made My vote? 9 out of 10 naturally.
Rightly BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is considered a classic of cinema , it`s well made , well directed and most of all well acted by the cast , but this doesn`t stop a major problem with the script from nearly wrecking the whole film and it`s this : The imperial Japanese committed the worst crimes against humanity in the whole 20th century . Of course they weren`t alone Hitler , Stalin , Mao , Pol Pot et al murdered millions upon millions of innocents and for that their can be no excuse , they have the blood of countless people on their hands , but these unreasonable murders were committed for <more>
the reason of utopian idealogy . Imperial Japanese barbarity had little if any idealogy behind it . Defeated armies and civilian prisoners were treated as cowardly " Untermenschen " to be treated with the utmost inhuman contempt and without mercy . As many as ten million Chinese died at the hands of the Japanese and millions of more Asians died across Asia during the Nipponese occupation . And it`s this rewriting of history in order to bring about a dramatic story that comes close to destroying the film . Nicholson stands up to his captors and refuses to be broken by them . Very dramatic Helped no end by Sir Alec`s performance . Perhaps the greatest actor of all time but in reality Nicholson would have been tied to a stake and left to starve to death . In fact Nicholson wouldn`t have had to show any defiance it was very common for Japanese guards to use prisoners for live bayonet practice just for the sheer hell of it . I take it because it was made during the cold war that Hollywood tried to rehabilitate both Germany and Japan by showing them in a less cruel light , but whatever the reason it is rather annoying to see prisoners holding concert parties in a Japanese POW camp . So treat this film as a drama not as a history lesson . For the record the real bridge was bombed by the American airforce
Yeah great movie, but WHY I ask WHY was it so long? Please! 155 minutes is too long. The first hour could have been cut by 20 minutes and then we may have had the greatest war movie ever. As it stands it is battling to make the top five. If your wondering "Saving Private Ryan" wouldn't make my top 100 war movies.Still great job, 7.5 out of 10.