The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

by guest writer

The Bridge on the River Kwai opens our month dedicated to the British filmmaker, Sir David Lean. He began his activity in the film industry back in the late ’20s at the British Gaumont Studios. There he knew sudden promotions dictated by his enthusiasm and craftsmanship, soon becoming an editor on newsreels at the beginning of the ’30s. But his tremendous talent lay also in writing and directing movies.

The screenplay of The Bridge on the River Kwai was written by the French novelist Pierre Boulle after the book with the same name. The actual bridge that was to help the Japanese army move supplies from Bangkok to Rangoon spread across the Mae Klung River, not the Kwai River as depicted in the film. Both bridges were destroyed in June 1945 by Allied bombardments and presently they were rebuilt and can accommodate tourists curious to visit the movie’s location.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is an intense battle of wills between camp commander Saito (Sessue Hagakawa) and the newcomer British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness) in Burma of 1943. The subject of the original dispute is the construction of the bridge which is supposed to prove the power of persuasion of the Japanese on the captured soldiers. Colonel Nicholson’s stubbornness to take the orders at first will create lots of tensions which will eventually lead the British officer to accept the challenge to show that even under oppression they can achieve a work of art. An epic adventure/war movie, The Bridge On The River Kwai is an enduring portrayal of the wrongs brought by the WWII.

photo: still from the film; production credits

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