1950s The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Published on June 9th, 2007 | by Chris

1

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On June 9, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

Summary:

there are a lot of typically-cheesy "50's" moments ("Lovely!"), but there is a great deal more introspection and commentary on the entire methodology with which we fight most wars, and a lot about the people involved and the so-called rules they're supposed to play by.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)1957's The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic by any definition of the word.  Based on the book "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" by Pierre Boule, it tells the compelling story of a band of British soldiers taken prisoner by the Japanese in Thailand during WWII, and how they overcome their situation by building a magnificent bridge for their captors.

Of course that's just on the surface mind you.  Alec Guinness masterfully portrays Col. Nicholson, the "by the book" leader of this group.  Nicholson's refusal to give into the less-than-honorable demands of the Japanese Col. Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) earned him a well-deserved Oscar for this role.  He effectively takes charge of the camp and the bridge building efforts from Saito due to the latter's incompetence and weakness.  He uses the bridge as a means to restore some order and dignity to the men, even though not all of them are on board with the idea.

Then there is "Commander" Shears (William Holden), an American who escapes the camp early on, just as Nicholson and his brigade arrives.  He finds his way out of the jungle and back to "civilization," only to be recruited (or blackmailed might be a better term) by British forces to help with destroying Nicholson's bridge.

Sure there are a lot of typically-cheesy "50's" moments ("Lovely!"), but there is a great deal more introspection and commentary on the entire methodology with which we fight most wars, and a lot about the people involved and the so-called rules they're supposed to play by.

And in the end, Guinness' portrayal of Nicholson's ultimate realization is sheer brilliance, and brings everything to a decisive end.

This is one of WMB's top twenty, to be sure.  See it someday soon!

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Limited Edition) The Bridge on the River Kwai (Limited Edition)
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Description

When British POWs build a vital railway bridge in enemy-occupied Burma, Allied commandos are assigned to destroy it in David Lean's epic World War II adventure THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Spectacularly produced, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI captured the imagination of the public and won seven 1957 Academy Awards(r), including Best Picture, Best Actor (Alec Guinness), and Best Director...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: Sony
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Alec Guinness
  • William Holden
  • Jack Hawkins
  • Sessue Hayakawa
  • James Donald

Reviews

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Average Customer Review

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific war film is a character study of man's ability to overcome any adversity. Hi-def Blu-ray transfer looks & sounds great., December 28, 2015
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BOTTOM LINE: Ignore the handful of 1 STAR haters and give this flick its due. It is a first-rate story of the triumph of the human spirit in hardship & misery, and it's just a magnificent war film. I like this movie very much and acknowledge its classic status with a solid 4 STAR rating.

THE STORY: British POWs imprisoned in southeast Asia during WWII are forced to build a bridge that will allow the Japanese army to move soldiers & supplies thru the dense Burmese jungle via railway. Main narrative focuses on a war of wills between the determined Japanese prison camp commander (Sessue Hayakawa) and the leader of the Brit regiment (Sir Alec Guiness). Meanwhile, a lone American soldier (William Holden) who manages to escape the camp is subsequently strong-armed into leading a squad of British commandos back to the bridge in order to blow it up, in the hopes it will cripple the Japanese military's stranglehold in the region.

THOUGHTS: Well regarded as one of the best... Read more
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful statement on the madness of war, February 5, 2015
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Why I waste my time watching all of the newest films that come out (of course, not all of them are bad) when there are plenty of tried-and-true classics waiting to be discovered is something I'll never completely understand. It's not even like I have the excuse that I don't know about them, or even don't have the time (because I do). Still, I do like the feeling of seeing something for the first time and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI delivered everything I expected and more. The story is set during WWII and is about a group of British POWs who arrive at a Japanese labor camp in the Burmese jungle (modern-day Myanmar). They are tasked with building a bridge over the Kwai River, but initially have difficulty because the camp's commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) has a clash of wills with their own commander, Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness). There is also an American POW, Shears (William Holden) who manages to escape but is "recruited" to lead a team back to the jungle to blow up... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LONG AND SOMETIMES UNREALISTIC STORY BUT VISUALLY STUNNING IN THE DAY WHEN WHAT YOU SEE WAS REAL, March 2, 2017
By 
Jack E. Levic (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bridge on the River Kwai (DVD)
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is a classic epic film that everyone should see at least once. It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won 7 and it stars two screen legends--Alec Guinness and William Holden. Although it may seem weak by today's modern movie technology, this film is the real thing.

Although the film is visually stunning, the premise rather shaky and the story is slow moving...very slow moving at times. A group of British soldiers end up in a brutal prisoner of war camp in Thailand. The Japanese commander has a mission for them--to build a bridge over the river Kwai. The Japanese Prisoner of War camps in WWII were notoriously brutal yet something seems almost comedic about this camp. Although the officers are thrown in "boxes" as punishment for refusing to work (because officers aren't required to do physical labor according to the Geneva Convention). Otherwise, the prisoners seem to be free to come and go and swim instead of work and are guarded by a... Read more
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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Chris

4.2

Summary: there are a lot of typically-cheesy "50's" moments ("Lovely!"), but there is a great deal more introspection and commentary on the entire methodology with which we fight most wars, and a lot about the people involved and the so-called rules they're supposed to play by.


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

  1. It’s an excellent movie to be sure, but surviving veterans who were forcibly impressed as slave labour to build the Rangoon-Ichinaro railway and watched their mates die by the thousands of torture, overwork, disease and slow starvation quite understandably seethe with rage at the portrayal of British officers and men acting as willing collaborators with the Japanese. That knowledge unavoidably taints the film.

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