“ Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 1958 / Director: David Lean / Actors: William Holden, Jack Hawkins ... / DVD released 04 December, 2000 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Box set, Dubbed, PAL, Widescreen „
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I'm never sure with war films whether they're going to impress me or whether I'm just going to find them rather repetitive and dull. There are certainly a ridiculous number of films based around war, and the period immediately following World War II produced a high volume of films based on and around it. One such film, Bridge on the River Kwai, focuses on a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Thailand and how British soldiers were made to construct a bridge for a Japanese train to cross the River Kwai. It is based on true events.
The film is very long, often regarded as an epic because of this. I personally found it a little too long, and it belaboured a few of the points it made and some of the scenes dragged a little. It starts off with a company of British soldiers being led into a Japanese camp where an American soldier, Shears, is already captive. The British leader, Col. Nicholson, is a very upstanding commander who is determined to uphold the 'rules', and therefore suffers personal punishment in order to maintain the status of his fellow officers.
Contrasting to this is the Japanese commander, Col. Saito, whose main purpose is to ensure that his goal of building a bridge is fulfilled, no matter the military rules or etiquette that is broken to achieve this. The contrast between the two commanders is stark: their morals are the battle for the first half of the film. Eventually, the two sort of work together as Nicholson is disgusted with the Japanese architecture, planning and bridge building skills. Intent on showing off British construction, Nicholson instructs his men to build it properly as he starts to go mad and lose sight of the point of the conflict.
The battle of wills and methods between the two could have ended up being just another good war film, but the character of Shears sort of bridges the gap here. Escaping from the POW camp, he makes it back to British base, where he joins with Force 316, a commando unit, and they return to the camp to destroy the bridge and hopefully rescue the POWs. As Nicholson's obsession with building a good bridge increases and Shears and the commandos get closer, the tension mounts and you wonder what exactly is going to happen when they meet.
David Lean's ability to give a beautiful film is in full force here, using the Sri Lankan forests and scenery to give a strong and humid impression of war torn Thailand. The direction is strong, as is the acting, with Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and William Holden doing very well, as does Sessue Hayakawa as Saito. The battles and contrasts between the personalities is the most interesting thing about the film, and the length of the film for me detracts from the power that the conflicts could bring. It's still an excellent film for sure, but not as great as I had thought it would be, falling short of my expectations if I'm honest.
Overall, I'd certainly recommend watching this - it certainly is one of the best war films. It depicts the conditions and how things may have worked in a POW camp, although apparently the tale it's based on featured a British commander who actually did everything in his power to STOP the bridge being built as opposed to going mad and making sure it was built properly. Still, maybe that wouldn't have made for such a good film, whereas this way it works well. The ending is certainly memorable and excellently filmed and performed. Recommended.
Heralded by many as a classic, this David Lean directed film sees a group of prisoners of war in a Japanese camp ordered to build a bridge over the river Kwai to be used to transport Japanese weaponry. Led by colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) the men seek to build a better bridge than the Japanese could proving that the British resolve is stronger than any other nations. In the meantime, American POW Shears (William Holden) is persuaded to go back to the camp where he was held in order to blow up the bridge. To his surprise he finds resolute defence of the bridge by Nicholson who it would seem has gone mad through his shear desire to maintain British appearances.
This is a terrifying and thought provoking film (especially if you are a Brit...). The portrayal of British stiff upper lip by Guinness is I believe one of the most outstanding and frightening performances in cinema history. He will stop at nothing to protect his bridge and honour and does so to obsessive excess.
the support cast also put in great performances, notably William Holden as the bemused American POW and Jack Hawkins as the Warden also maintaining British pride. Often referred to as a classic, I believe this to perhaps be Lean's best, and certainly Guinness's..
Made in 1957 and shot in colour this in my opinion is the legendary David Lean's finest piece of directorial work. It stars Alec Guinness, William Holden, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Hawkins and Geoffrey Horne.
It won an incredible 7 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Writing, Best Music Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography. This i made even more remarkable because it was up against Twelve Angry Men that year in some of the main categories and furthermore the late 1950s was a very strong period in cinematic history.
The story itself is fictitious but is based on some general accuracies regarding prisoner of war camps in Thailand during the second world war, the treatment of prisoners by the Japanese and the building of various railway bridges by the Japanese army using prisoners of war as labourers.
The running time is 161 minutes and the film is currently ranked number 68th of all time by the Internet Movie Database web site.
I rank this film as being in the top 5 of all time and for that reason I will not spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen it by giving the plot away.
This is an absolute all time classic and was thought so well of that In 1997it was given special preservation status by the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.
This review is also posted on www.ciao.co.uk
under my user name bella6789
Bridge On The River Kwai, made in 1957, is an outstanding film, which unlike most WWII films does not chose to take sides, giving the viewer an unique insight into both the Allied and Japanese beliefs, as well as including a strong anti-war undercurrent. The story was based on a 1952 novel La Pont de la Riviere Kwai by Pierre Boulle (better known for his screenplay for the Planet Of The Apes), who had been a POW in Thailand. The book won Frances Prix Ste Beuve award. The film won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The setting is deep in the Thai jungle, the year 1943. The film focuses on Camp 16, a few grass huts set up by the Japanese at Tamarkan, with the objective to use Allied Prisoners Of War to build a bridge over the River Kwai, part of the notorious Bangkok-Rangoon Death Railway, the building of which cost the lives of 16,000 POWs and 100,000 Asian labourers.
The film opens following the passage of a soaring hawk through the tropical sky, providing a birds-eye view of the vast expanses of jungle. The sounds of birds and insects give the immediate sense of heat and humidity, and the camera sweeps down to the forest floor passing freshly dug graves with crudely constructed wooden crosses. The camera comes to a halt on the infamous railway tracks as the title bursts boldly across the screen. The introduction to the harsh conditions is compounded by emaciated, ragged Allied captives toiling under the searing sun. This sets the scene for a movie which provokes the conflicting emotions of national pride and the horrors and futility of war.
The shot then cuts to the lead character Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness) surveying the landscape in classic heros pose as he leads his struggling men onwards, even under capture maintaining an air of dignity. As his men file into the camp, we are introduced to Commander Shears (William Holden), who is digging graves with another prisoner. Immediately Shears becomes the voice of the anti-war movement in this movie. As he reads the funeral service over the freshest grave, he declares for the greater glory of .what did he die for?
Nicholsons men march into camp whistling the Colonel Bogey March, now inseparable from the film, to the disbelief of the current prisoners and Col. Saito, the commanding officer of the camp. Even though the men are bloodied, weary and dishevelled, they exude the pride they feel for being British soldiers, fired by the unstoppable Nicholson.
Guinness is outstanding as Nicholson, playing the character as a real quintessentially British jolly good show, what kind of man. His and Saitos contrasting cultural attitude to war may be entirely different, but both men are essentially similar - imperialistic, proud, stubborn, and follow all orders to the letter. Saitos welcome speech sets the tone for the treatment to be expected in a Japanese POW camp, If you work hard you will be treated well, if you do not work hard you will be punished. Be happy in your work. He has his orders to build the bridge in very little time, and they must be fulfilled, otherwise out of shame he will have to commit suicide. He thinks of the British, who had been ordered to surrender as failures - any decent Japanese soldier following bushido code would have chosen death over becoming a slave, he regards the British belief to be better live like a coolie, than die like a hero.
Nicholson refuses to consider escape, because as his superiors ordered him to surrender it would technically contravene military law. He suffers a long period of torture in a contraption called the oven, along with the other officers, for refusing to surrender full command of his men to Saito, and fulfil Saitos demand that the officers undertake manual labour, which would contravene the Article 27 of the Geneva Convention. To Nicholson nothing is more important than rules, and doing things the right way, which one expects of the British soldier, summed up when he says to Shears, without law Commander, there is no civilisation.
When no amount of intimidation can convince the rigid Nicholson to submit to Saito, his defiance along with the sabotage by soldiers working on the bridge, causes the increasingly desperate Saito to crack, and he gives in to Nicholsons demands. Nicholsons forceful personality means he ends up taking charge of the whole project.
Unfortunately, probably due to his prolonged stint in the oven, he has gone rather mad, loses all perspective and becomes obsessed with building a bridge which will epitomise the best of British standards, and be a benchmark of British involvement in Indo-China for years to come, never mind the assistance it will give the enemy. He even relocates the site of the bridge to make it more sturdy, organises more efficient work teams, in a turn-around from his earlier stance makes his own officers and sick work, and when the engineer says he has found a wood, which could make the bridge last 600 years, Nicholsons eyes well up with pride.
Ive covered about a third of the plot here. At this point the story has split in two, with Shears escaping to Ceylon, and becoming reluctantly involved on a commando unit, Force 316, which plans to destroy the bridge. But are they able to? Is the bridge finished on time? Does Nicholson in the height of his passion for the bridge prevent the assault? Ill leave you to watch and find out.
This is essentially an anti-war movie. The ongoing battles of wills and beliefs encompass three main points of view on war, the determined Saito, who will go to any lengths to fulfil his duty - with one of the many one-liners delivered so well in this film, Do not speak to me of rules. This is not a game of cricket!, the obstinate Nicholson, Its a matter of principal., and the disillusioned Shears. Throughout the movie, Shears cuts through the bravado and pride of maintaining the Soldiers Code, to bring the pointlessness and futility of war to the front of the viewers mind. Without him this would just be a great feel-good British movies, all grit, determination and honour in the face of adversity. He sums up his viewpoint with a speech made to F316 commander Maj. Warden, You make me sick with your heroics. Theres a stench of death about you, you carry about in your pack like the plague .You and that Col. Nicholson, youre two of a kind, crazy with courage, for what .how to die like gentlemen, how to die by the rules, while the only important thing is how to live like a human being.
History and war are my favourite genres of films, so this combination of the two, for me has made Bridge On The River Kwai a masterpiece. I knew this film was a fictional story based around historical fact (there was really two bridges, one wooden, one steel, which stood for two years before being destroyed by aerial bombing in 1945), but it remained firmly my favourite film until I saw a BBC documentary featuring the real Col. Nicholson, Brig. Sir Philip John Denton Toosey, who as Lieutenant-Colonel was commander of Camp16, and was considered one of the most outstanding British officers involved in building the Death Railway. He never went mad and started aiding the Japanese, in fact he constantly risked execution and beatings, to courageously ensure the survival of his men, smuggled in food and medicine, believed in equality between officers and men, and did everything in his might to delay and thwart the construction of the bridges. Desperately sick at the end of the war he travelled hundreds of miles back into the jungle to be with the bulk of his men when they were liberated. He even spoke up for Saito (who was in fact only a Sergeant-Major and second in command of Camp 16) at his trial, the two becoming lifelong friends. Being a modest man, he refused to speak out against inaccuracies of the film, until he realised the public were taking it as the gospel truth of historic events, so he made a BBC interview of the real truth to be broadcast after his death. He was certainly a great hero, and maybe a film on the reality of his life would have been just as big a hit. I find it a great shame he never received the recognition or glory he deserved. He was greatly respected and all those who spoke about him found the film to be a great insult to his memory. I know all big movies change the plot to some degree, but knowing that the poor man died believing he had been portrayed so inaccurately around the world, now spoils the film for me a little bit every time I watch it.
However, I still believe this WWII epic is one of the greatest films ever made. For a film to provoke the viewer into sympathy and understanding for all cultural viewpoints and plights, in such a topic that most of us are firmly on one side or the other, makes it particularly special. This, combined with the excellent direction by David Lean, the stunning cinematography of the beautiful Sri Lankan (pretending to be Thailand) scenery and one of the greatest, if slightly contrived, endings in cinematic history, makes Bridge On The River Kwai, without a doubt one of the great classics.
My DVD was a promotion attached to Classic War Movie Magazine, which was an absolute bargain at £1.99. On Amazon it is currently £12.99.
Extras on my DVD version include:
* Restored wide-screen feature.
* Animated menu themed like a camp hut, which after the shape of the bridge is formed on the outside by the strokes of Japanese calligraphy, opens to the classic theme music, to show a picture of the bridge self-constructing.
*Trivia Sabotage quiz.
*Maps & Military Strategy - map of region, where different locations can be clicked upon for very informative WWII facts.
Alec Guinness: Col. Nicholson
William Holden: Shears
Jack Hawkins: Maj. Warden
Sessue Hayakawa: Col. Saito
James Donald: Maj. Clipton
Geoffrey Horne: Lt. Joyce
Andre Morell: Col. Green
Peter Williams: Capt. Greeves
John Boxer: Maj. Hughes
Percy Herbert: Pvt. Grogan
Harold Goodwin: Pvt. Baker / Sick list volunteer
Ann Sears: Nurse at Ceylon hospital
Heihachiro Okawa: Capt. Kanematsu
Keiichiro Katsumoto: Lt. Miura
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu: Yai
Director: David Lean
UK Certification: PG
7 Academy Awards:
Best Director (David Lean)
Best Actor (Alec Guinness)
Best Cinematography (Jack Hildyard)
Best Film Editing (Peter Taylor)
Best Original Music Score (Malcolm Arnold)
Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson)
MASTER DIRECTOR - AND HIS CRAFT !!
THE MOVIE---------1957 BEFORE I WAS BORN.
The plot is in 1943 Colonel Nicholson surrender in Singapore, marches his British company into a Japanese prisoners camp in the Burma jungle ,Colonel Saito runs the camp and orders the new prisoners build a railway bridge between Rangoon and Malaysia. The clash of cultures start, Nicholson forces Saito to respect Geneva Convention and save his officers from manual labor on the construction. After this victory, Nicholson slowly understands to save his men, he needs to devise a plan of survival so he wants to see the bridge completed and exhorts his men by saying it is a morale booster for all of them. Meanwhile U.S. Navy Cmdr. Shears who sees the colonel Nicholson arrival escapes from the camp only to be later compelled into joining a British commando mission led by Maj. Warden and sensitive Lt. Joyce with the goal of blowing up the bridge over river Kwai. The movie proceeds between the parallel story lines of the bridge construction and the commando progress thru jungle to destroy the mission.
Whistling of "Colonel Bogey March" is heard when Colonel Nicholson is leading his men towards prison camp of Colonel Saito.
THE ATTACHEMENT OF TRUE INCIDENT AND A PERSON
The real "Colonel Nicholson" and the River Kwai veterans.
Allied camp commander, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, Awarded the DSO for heroism during the defense of Singapore, he stayed behind with his men in captivity to ensure as many of his men as possible would survive.
He endured regular beatings and ill-treatment of prisoners, he was a good negotiator he was able to win many concessions from the Japanese by convincing them he will speed the completion of the work. Behind their backs, he used to do everything possible to delay the construction, he also helped organize a daring escape, at considerable cost to himself. For his conduct in the camp, he won the undying respect of his men. After the war, he showed great generosity of spirit by saving the life of Colonel Saito. He became President of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War.
There is a printed book on his life called "The Man Behind the Bridge" by Peter Davies.
David Lean films of Lawrence of Arabia , Dr.Zhivago , Bridge on the river Kwai, A Passage to India are some of the classic films of all times, they are rated as the top 50 films ever made.
William Holden .... Cmdr. Shears
Jack Hawkins .... Maj. Warden
Alec Guinness .... Col. Nicholson
Sessue Hayakawa .... Col. Saito
Ann Sears .... Nurse at Siamese hospital
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu .... Yai
Won 7 Oscars
There are so many ways this great classical movie can be reviewed, I can review the great talent of David Lean, the acting prowess of Sir Alec Guinness, the story, the acting of William holden and the clash between Saito vs Nicholson, the gems of direction of David Lean are evident from the scenes of the men marching a camera zoom and close up of feet beating up and down on the damp earth show a pair of feet wearing half shoes, the naked toes peeping out. All this with the sweet music of the whistle called "Colonel Bogey March" Poetry in filming.
William Holden running lost in the wilds during his escape from the camp.Camera goes to a bird flying overhead we are hooked to Cmdr.Shears plight and the Camera takes you with the bird and shows you a village with friendly people. Shots like these can be called gem and poetry in of filming.
Colonel Saito getting the cheers from Alec Guinness after confessing his choice of HARAKIRI and loss of face if the bridge does not get completed on time is a directors highlight of conflicting emotions and conflicting humans in difficult times. Is this a anti war movie or pro is not important, what is important is the art and the details and the building of the story and the building of the plot without showing blood shed, without outlandish loud music, without out zapping of your senses, the movie is purely emotional, human, relatable and fun to watch every time and anytime, there are so many conflicts prevailing all along the movie We've got Saito vs. Nicholson, Shears vs. Nicholson, Clipton vs. Nicholson, Shears vs. Warden, Warden vs. Nicholson.
There is the other side of the story Shears meeting with Major Warden (Jack Hawkins) who tells Shears that Nicholson is one of his men and that his platoon surrendered because he Warden ordered him to surrender. And another angle to the story of the bridge, everything and anything in this movie is connected to the bridge, the camp, the aspersions of the prisoners, the aspirations of the Camp commander the aspersions of the nations the aspirations of the Commando unit wading thru the jungle and the director is leading all of us thru the medium of BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI masterfully all along it.
Reaching the climax you wonder about the clean story and no use of foul words and still the film is entertaining, best of all it is a dedication to a real life soldier who did big service to his unit very selflessly that I believe should stand out above all, this film is a dedication to Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, this is the most important accolade of all in this film, it will remain the best award all along, where do you as a common man get to inspire a film maker and a great director to make a film near to your life or even if it is not the whole truth but still a tribute to your spirit is the best subtext of this film. I am always with the common man away from the world of glamour and powerful. According to me that is no gimmick.
I END MY REVIEW WITH A ANTI-WAR DIALOG FROM THIS GREAT FILM:-
"You and that Col. Nicholson, this war is just a game to you. How to die like soldier, how to die like a gentleman. When the only important thing is how to live like a human being!"
Yo living like humans is primal to all other alternatives !!!!!!!!
This POW-camp WW2 drama is really the movie Alec Guinness should be remembered for. Winner of seven Oscars in 1958, including Best Actor for Guinness, it demands royal DVD treatment and that's exactly what it gets on this double-discer. Features include Apocalypse Now scribe John Milius offering "An Appreciation", short film Rise and Fall Of A Jungle Giant, and even a trivia quiz. The Best Extra, though, is the excellent, in-depth Making Of documentary which was good enough to have been separately released on video, and features interviews with William Holden and Alec Guinness.
David Lean's brilliant adaptation of the Pierre Boulle novel is a good example of how war code and moral order must sometimes be pushed aside. Alec Guinness stars as the leader of British troops who are kidnapped by the Japanese during World War II and ordered to design and construct a bridge over the river kwai for the enemy. However, rather than do everything they can to sabotage the bridge, Guinness and his men find honour and pleasure from helping the Japanese, much to their peril. Fantastic cinematography and music are helped by Lean's Masterful direction. Alec Guinness won the Best Actor oscar and William Holden is also very good. The DVD comes on 2 disks and contains an excellent documentary and nice features, however, it is a shame that no commentary is included. Even so, this classic is a must for any David Lean fan.
The British at war, again. Actually in The Bridge Over The River Kwai the British are no longer at war as such although the prisoners try to carry out their war to the best of their abilities. This is a true if dramatised tale of the deadly and infamous Burma railway and in particular one portion of it at the River Kwai. Having captured thousands of Allied forces in Burma and neighbouring countries, the Japanese force the prisoners to build a railway through the hot, steamy and disease ridden jungle without the aid of the Geneva Convention. That is the reality. The film strays a little from the truth. The British stiff upper lip is provided by the master in portraying this trait, Alec Guinness, as he and selected officers supervise the building of the bridge. To begin with the troops do their best to sabotage the project much to the annoyance of the Japanese guards but the Colonel decides that to build a proper bridge would show the Japanese what the British were made of and in any case it would be good for the prisoner's moral. Once again we see the true British class system in action, even in adversity, as the "men" do all the working and dying whilst the officers strut around issuing orders. They even arrange for the men to hold a concert party, in the interests of British morale of course. Come on, if you're up to your eyeballs in leeches, mosquitoes and a variety of other beasties, fed a few grains of rice per day and worked until you drop, the last thing that you want to do is to star in some concert party. But it was good for morale, the officer's morale that is. The film really centres around the clash of wills between the camp commandant and the Colonel and of course the Colonel wins. The soundtrack of the film includes the tune Colonel Bogey which, as any serviceman will tell you, has two sets of lyrics one of which is highly derogatory and aimed at higher ranking officers. Hailed as a classic on it's release, it is a well made film with superb acting but the propaganda is sickening.
The Bridge on the River Kwai is my favourite World War 2 film of all time. This film was directed by David Lean and stars Alec Guinness, James Donald and Jack Hawkins, when the film was released in 1957 it won 7 academy awards including Best film, Director and Actor. Basically the film follows a group of British POW's who have been captured by the Japanese. The Japanese force the captured men to build a bridge in occupied Burma. Alec Guinness plays the part of a British colonel, he plays the part magnificently, acting the role of a stiff upper lip English colonel, and Alec deservedly won an Oscar for his performance. Anyway the colonel is totally obsessed with the project; he sees it as a means to improve moral, and to demonstrate the British spirit. The film presents a gripping study of the psychology of conflict and duty. A lot of work went into this film; it's a thrilling film with plenty of action and adventure.
ok, don't tell me that you have never seen the Bridge on the river Kwai? Well where have you been for the past 30-40 years at christmas? The film is about English and allied soldiers who have been taken prisoner of war by the Japanese. Heat, sun and mosquitoes , not much medical aid and the torture techniques of the little yellow devils were bought truthfully alive in this 'proud to be British' movie. Alec Guinness played the typical Stiff upper Lip and led the men on daily walks, watched over by their jailers, to build a bridge for the railway to cross the river Kwai. Michael redgrave was the man who blew all their toil and hard work up into a billion matchsticks. A well made, produced, acted and directed film that has not had the ratings it should have had over the years. Just like the British the film portrayed the soldiers of the allieds and our men as strong and resilient. Thankyou for helping us to win the war!! The original bridge is still standing and just goes to show that British engineering will stand the test of time.
Based on the true story of the building of a bridge on the Burma railway by British prisoners-of-war held under a savage Japanese regime in World War II, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) is one of the greatest war films ever made. The film received seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Performance (Alex Guinness), for Sir Malcolm Arnold's superb music, and for the screenplay from the novel by Pierre Boulle (who also wrote Monkey Planet, the inspiration for Planet of the Apes). The story does take considerable liberties with history, including the addition of an American saboteur played by William Holden, and an entirely fictitious but superbly constructed and thrilling finale. Made on a vast scale, the film reinvented the war movie as something truly epic, establishing the cinematic beachhead for The Longest Day (1962), Patton (1970) and A Bridge Too Far (1977). It also proved a turning-point in director David Lean's career. Before he made such classic but conventionally scaled films as In Which We Serve (1942) and Hobson's Choice (1953). Afterwards there would only be four more films, but their names are Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Dr Zhivago (1965), Ryan's Daughter (1970) and A Passage to India (1984). On the DVD: Too often the best extras come attached to films that don't really warrant them. Not so here, where a truly great film has been given the attention it deserves. The first disc presents the film in the original extra-wide CinemaScope ratio of 2.55:1, in an anamorphically enhanced transfer which does maximum justice to the film's superb cinematography. The sound has been transferred from the original six-track magnetic elements into 5.1 Dolby Digital and far surpasses what many would expect from a 1950s' feature. The main bonus on the first disc is an isolated presentation of Malcolm Arnold's great Oscar-winning music score, in addition to which there is a trivia game, and maps and historical information linked to appropriate clips. The second disc contains a new, specially produced 53-minute "making of" documentary featuring many of those involved in the production of the movie. This gives a rich insight into the physical problems of making such a complex epic on location in Ceylon. Also included are the original trailer and two short promotional films from the time of release, one of which is narrated by star William Holden. Finally there is an "appreciation" by director John Milius, an extensive archive of movie posters and artwork, and a booklet that reproduces the text of the film's original 1957 brochure. --Gary S Dalkin