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Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) Brief Details and Film Review

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Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai is widely considered to be one of the greatest war films of all time and has won seven Academy Awards. It is based on the building of a bridge over the River Kwai for the Burma Railroad in 1942/3 by British prisoners of war held captive by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. The film stars Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson, the senior British officer and a man of rigid principles and ideals. Jack Hawkins plays Major Warden and William Holden plays Lieutenant Commander Shears. The convincing Japanese prison camp commandant is Colonel Saito played by Sessue Hayakawa who lives and works to an unbending strict code of conduct.

During World War Two British prisoners of war in the jungle of western Burma are ordered to build a bridge over the River Kwai to form part of the Burma Railway from Bangkok to Rangoon. The Japanese want to use the railway for troops, equipment and supply movements towards India. The British Colonel in charge of the prisoners persuades the men to build the bridge to keep up morale and also as a monument to British spirit and dignity in these difficult and dreadful times. However, they do intend to sabotage it later to prevent its use by the railway and the Japanese. The prisoners reluctantly set about building the bridge and it soon begins to take shape. All prisoners, regardless of rank, are required to work on the bridge.

During the construction of the bridge Colonel Nicholson starts to become obsessive about the quality of the bridge and convinces himself that it will be a permanent monument to British skill and ingenuity. He becomes so involved with the planning and construction that the British prisoners see this as a form of co-operation with the enemy. What Nicholson doesn't know is that the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle to destroy the bridge and prevent its use by anyone.

One prisoner, Lieutenant Commander Shears played by William Holden, manages to escape and eventually arrives at Mount Lavinia hospital in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Here he is blackmailed and persuaded by a British Major Warden, played by Jack Hawkins, to return to the river Kwai and help destroy the bridge. Together with another volunteer Lieutenant Joyce, played by Geoffrey Horne, they parachute in but Major Warden is injured in an encounter with a Japanese patrol. He has to be carried but they eventually make it to the site of the bridge. The story continues.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic film with Alec Guinness giving his best ever performance and winning an Oscar for Best Actor, and William Holden gives an outstanding performance as a man who just wants to get home while putting on an act of bravado for all to see. The jungle scenes are authentic, the photography is excellent and the musical score is right and fitting. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a film not to be missed.

Film and Movie Information

The Bridge on the River Kwai was released by Columbia Pictures in 1957 and was directed by David Lean. The prncipal stars were Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins. The movie was filmed in Technicolor, in Sri Lanka.

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