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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 111,040 users  
Reviews: 245 user | 111 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.

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

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Top 250 #121 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
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})
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Storyline

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

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Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

14 December 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bridge on the River Kwai  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$27,200,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Lean was completely at home in the hot and humid Ceylon jungle. Despite the discomfort the rest of the crew were experiencing, Lean was thrilled about the shoot and never complained about his living conditions. See more »

Goofs

Both scenes are wrong: the actual line would have been 1 metre gauge, as it connected existing Thai and Burmese metre-gauge routes. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Nicholson: It is quite understandable; it's a very natural reaction. But one day - in a week, a month, a year - on that day when, God willing, we all return to our homes again, you're going to feel very proud of what you have achieved here in the face of great adversity. What you have done should be, and I think will be, an example to all our countrymen, soldier and civilian alike. You have survived with honor - that, and more - here in the wilderness. You have turned defeat into victory. I congratulate ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Geoffrey Horne See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Last Picture Show: A Look Back (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Colonel Bogey March
(1914) (uncredited)
Music by Kenneth Alford
Whistled by Alec Guinness with British Prisoners of War,
Accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted 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.


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