Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Bridge on the River Kwai

Bridge on the River Kwai

4.7 10
Director: David Lean

Cast: David Lean, William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins

     
 

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The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport JapaneseSee more details below

Overview

The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport Japanese munitions. Nicholson refuses, despite all the various "persuasive" devices at Saito's disposal. Finally, Nicholson agrees, not so much to cooperate with his captor as to provide a morale-boosting project for the military engineers under his command. The colonel will prove that, by building a better bridge than Saito's men could build, the British soldier is a superior being even when under the thumb of the enemy. As the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that it will benefit the Japanese. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (William Holden), having escaped from the camp, agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British soldiers back to the camp to destroy Nicholson's bridge. Upon his return, Shears realizes that Nicholson's mania to complete his project has driven him mad. Filmed in Ceylon, Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary British filmmaker David Lean, and Best Actor for Guinness. It also won Best Screenplay for Pierre Boulle, the author of the novel on which the film was based, even though the actual writers were blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were given their Oscars under the table.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
David Lean's gripping World War II drama -- winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay, Cinematography, Musical Score, and Editing -- is every bit as fresh and absorbing today as when originally released in 1957. Its underlying but perceptive commentary on the futility of war never supersedes the narrative, which revolves around a clash of wills between Japanese prison-camp commandant Sessue Hayakawa and British colonel Alec Guinness. Stern, didactic and indomitable, Guinness leads his men in the construction of a bridge, as directed by the Japanese officer, but does so on his own terms. This boosts morale among the British soldiers, who become defiantly proud of their bridge even as British officer Jack Hawkins and American escapee William Holden plot to destroy it. Pierre Boulle's novel is perfectly adapted by blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, and Lean's direction is absolutely flawless in every respect. You'll always remember two things about this movie: the infectious, frequently whistled "Colonel Bogey March" and Alec Guinness's Oscar-winning performance. The Limited Edition DVD spans two discs and includes an isolated music track, links to DVD-ROM features like screensavers and military plans, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary material.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Bridge on the River Kwai ranks as one of the greatest films of all time and arguably director David Lean's best film. At the heart of the film is the performance of Alec Guinness as the obsessively principled Colonel Nicholson. In a lesser film, his character might be simplified into a heroic martyr, but The Bridge on the River Kwai revels in its moral ambiguity: no significant character is either purely a hero or purely a villain. Filmed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the film features brutal prisoner-of-war work camps that are nonetheless considerably nicer than their historical counterparts, a good decision since it frees the audience to focus on the battle of wills, at first between Nicholson and Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), later between Shears (William Holden) and Warden (Jack Hawkins). The film's closing line ("Madness... Madness") is among the best-known and most enigmatic closings in screen history. The film received seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Guinness).

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2008
UPC:
0043396256217
Original Release:
1957
Rating:
PG
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:47:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Exclusive documentary - adaptation of Boulle's novel, casting, history of production, score, release, restoration and more; Original featurette: The Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant; USC short film introduced by William Holden; An appreciation by filmmaker John Milius; Photo gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William Holden Shears
Alec Guinness Col. Nicholson
Jack Hawkins Maj. Warden
Sessue Hayakawa Col. Saito
Geoffrey Horne Lieutenant Joyce
James Donald Maj. Clipton
Andre Morell Col. Green
Peter Williams Capt. Reeves
John Boxer Maj. Hughes
Percy Herbert Pvt. Grogan
Harold Goodwin Pvt. Baker
Ann Sears Nurse
Henry Okawa Capt. Kanematsu

Technical Credits
David Lean Director
Gus Agosti Asst. Director
Malcolm Arnold Score Composer
Donald M. Ashton Art Director
Pierre Boulle Screenwriter
John Cox Sound/Sound Designer
Cecil F. Ford Production Manager
Carl Foreman Screenwriter
Stuart Freeborn Makeup
Jack Hildyard Cinematographer
Peter Newbrook Camera Operator
George Partleton Makeup
Sam Spiegel Producer
Ted Sturgis Asst. Director
Peter Taylor Editor
Michael Wilson Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Bridge on the River Kwai: Disc One
1. Start [6:51]
2. "Colonel Bogey March" [4:12]
3. "I am Colonel Saito" [4:33]
4. Nicholson Meets Shears [2:38]
5. Officers' Meeting [2:43]
6. A Point of Difference [10:05]
7. The Oven [1:42]
8. Right Moment & Company [2:02]
9. How Not to Build a Bridge [3:55]
10. Five Minutes With Nicholson [5:37]
11. A Successful Escape [6:00]
12. A Late Supper With Saito [7:48]
13. Shears Leaves Paradise [1:57]
14. Victory & Defeat [5:25]
15. Inspection [4:05]
16. Setting Saito Straight [4:58]
17. Shears Meets Warden [3:42]
18. The Commando School [2:34]
19. Warden's Plan [3:42]
20. The Truth About Shears [3:52]
21. Building a Proper Bridge [4:12]
22. Fourth Team Member [5:39]
23. The Mission Begins [1:25]
24. A Change of Route [1:20]
25. Jungle Trek [3:41]
26. Radio Repair [2:07]
27. Facing a Crisis [3:30]
28. Bathing With the Enemy [5:51]
29. Superficially Chipped Bone [6:53]
30. Reconnaissance [1:04]
31. Attack Plan [3:19]
32. "A First-Rate Job" [6:51]
33. Setting the Charges [3:39]
34. A Few Words From Nicholson [2:09]
35. Final Preparations [4:10]
36. "The River's Gone Down" [5:56]
37. "Something Odd's Going On" [1:59]
38. Leading Them Right to It [2:42]
39. "Blow Up the Bridge?" [1:55]
40. Mission Accomplished [4:52]
Disc #2 -- Bridge on the River Kwai: Disc Two
2. From Novel to Script [7:02]
3. Casting [9:04]
4. Building the Bridge [5:00]
5. Production Stories [9:49]
6. Nicholson and Saito [1:55]
7. Nicholson's Realization [3:02]
8. Blowing-Up the Bridge [6:10]
9. Bird's Eye View [2:07]
10. The Shooting Continues [1:01]
11. Editing [1:29]
12. David Lean and the Critics [1:35]
13. A Masterpiece [2:33]

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