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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 137,669 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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Top Rated Movies #127 | 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 ...
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:






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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?


The real life construction of the bridge over the River Kwai used about 100,000 conscripted Asian laborers. 12,000 prisoners of war died on the project. See more »


When Col. Saito leaves Col. Nicholson and the other officers standing in the sun their shadows lengthen during the day. The scene then cuts to a view from inside the 'hospital' and the shadows of the officers are noticeably shorter. See more »


Colonel Saito: Do not speak to me of rules. This is war! This is not a game of cricket!
See more »

Crazy Credits

And introducing Geoffrey Horne See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time of the Apes (1991) See more »


Working on the Bridge
Performed by Malcolm Arnold
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

They don't make movies like this anymore.
19 February 1999 | by (L.A. CA) – See all my reviews

I recently saw The Bridge on the River Kwai at the Cinerama Dome, and it was quite spectacular. Unlike some of today's grand adventure films, you get to know the characters along with seeing great scenes of acting and cinematography. Alec Guinness is at the top of his form as the single minded Colonel Nicholson. The scene between Nicholson and Saito in Saito's hut is remarkable. Nicholson still will not concede defeat, he even takes offense that other officers of different armies gave in and worked alongside the enlisted men. Saito can't understand Nicholson's acceptance of his punishment, and it drives him crazy. The film's plot has two stories that are beautifully intertwined. Shears' return to the bridge is his only way to escape the bridge. In the film's final act, the tension is turned up as the British commandos try to blow up the bridge, and a train, and only then does Nicholson realise what the bridge really is. The Bridge on the River Kwai is one film that is hard to top, the only film able to do that is Lawrence of Arabia, both directed by the meticulous eye of David Lean. One director who could put intimacy in epic circumstances.

29 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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