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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, War  |  14 December 1957 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 135,823 users  
Reviews: 264 user | 117 critic

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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Top Rated Movies #128 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 23 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Geoffrey Horne ...
Colonel Green (as Andre Morell)
Peter Williams ...
John Boxer ...
Harold Goodwin ...
Ann Sears ...
Heihachirô Ôkawa ...
Captain Kanematsu (as Henry Okawa)
Keiichirô Katsumoto ...
Lieutenant Miura (as Keiichiro Katsumoto) (as K. Katsumoto)
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu ...
Yai (as M.R.B. Chakrabandhu {Col. Broome})


The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito. He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy. Unknown to him, the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle, led by Warden and an American, Shears, to blow up the bridge. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It spans a whole new world of entertainment!


Adventure | Drama | War


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Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

14 December 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El puente sobre el río Kwai  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)


$27,200,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| (35 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| (Linear PCM)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


It was David Lean's suggestion to have the British soldiers march into the POW camp singing "Colonel Bogey" at the start of the film. Producer Sam Spiegel was opposed to including the song and felt it would have not meaning to most audiences. The song was in fact a British military march. At first, Spiegel tried to convince Lean that the song would cost too much money to license, but eventually Lean got his way. See more »


While the prisoners are all supposed to be sick and/or mistreated, in fact all look reasonably healthy and even tanned, and none in any kind of starved or emaciated state. In reality, as numerous photographs of actual prisoners of the Japanese show, all prisoners were uniformly emaciated, having lost an enormous amount of weight, starved, and with skeletal frames - conditions noticeably absent from any of the prisoners in the film. However, Saito was based on one of the more humane commandants who was acquitted of war crimes after war's end. See more »


Colonel Nicholson: One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clipton, even in captivity.
See more »

Crazy Credits

And introducing Geoffrey Horne See more »


Referenced in Afstiros katallilo (2008) See more »


River Kwai March
Performed by Malcolm Arnold
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Far Ahead of Its Time
14 August 1998 | by (Norfolk, VA) – See all my reviews

First off, what is so amazing about this film is that, for the time that it was made, how modern it looks. David Lean certainly had the eye of any modern director and managed to direct a visual masterpiece at a time when many films were still being shot in black and white.

William Holden gives one of his finest performances as a cynic of warfare , citing for us the insanity and absurdity that the combatants often convey. And he hates the war, but he cannot avoid been thrown back into it again and again. We wish he could stay on the beach with his nurse lover, but he is a man destined for a tragic doom for his country, whether he wants to or not.

Alec Guiness also delivers a fine performance as a bold general whose own pride is, at the same time, his most noble quality as well as his greatest fault. He is uncompromising, yet when the Japanese submit to his demands, he begins overseeing the construction of the bridge with great esteem. Eventually, for him, the bridge becomes a manifestation of his belief of the superiority of the British Army, which he follows like a religion. And in putting all his pride into this bridge, he loses sight of even the British's own true agenda. Truly, his sense of overwhelming honor is, at the same time, his downfall in a descent to a loss of morality, and a sense of good and evil.

And yes, by the end of this film, we learn a great lesson of the horrors of war. Not only does it take the lives of many good men, but the utter failure and despair that accompany it make it an unbearable existence. And this message has only recently been re-evaluated with the also-brilliant masterpiece "Saving Private Ryan." But, keep in mind that it took forty years to regain the power that this film inspired so long ago.

74 of 107 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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