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.
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
When David Lean agreed to the project, he took on the task of reworking Carl Foreman's script. Lean felt that Foreman's script had discarded the best elements of the book in favor of heavy-handed melodrama and action/adventure. Lean noted that the conflict between Colonel Nicholson and Saito became apparent far too late in the narrative, and that Saito was written like a stock B-picture villain. In terms of message, it was important to Lean that Colonel Nicholson's minor folly of building the bridge mirror the greater folly of the war itself. See more »
When Shears is escaping from the camp, he is shown traipsing through an arid, desert-like landscape. His empty canteen is dragging behind him and he appears to be thoroughly parched. He collapses on the edge of a Thai village. When he departs the village after having recovered his health, the village is shown to be on a river's edge and surrounded on all other sides by lush jungle. No arid landscape is in the vicinity. See more »
[after speaking with Nicholson and Saito, neither of whom will relent]
Are they both mad? Or am I going mad? Or is it the sun?
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I have watched this movie several times and it is just getting better and better all the time. Why? Because this movie actually has a message built-in, this isn't a violent story, like "Saving Private Ryan" - also a good movie with a message - but it is still not a slow story.
When I last saw it, I realised that there was something in the movie that I had never understood, this isn't a movie about war, torture or how it was to be a prisoner of war; this is a movie about madness and pride. The pride shows both in Saiko and Colonel Nicholson, they are so full of it that it is almost impossible for them to come to a civil-conclusion with the problems they have with each other. The madness is shown in Colonel Nicholson and Holden's character - here they are, two prisoners of war and they don't want to help each other out, instead they try to reach separate goals, and they are both willing to die for it.
After you have watched this movie one is amazed by the performances made by Alec Guinness and William Holden and I must say that this is therefore one of the best War/Drama movies ever made My vote? 9 out of 10 naturally.
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