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The Making of 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' (2000)

| Documentary | Video
Documentary about the making of the classic WWII film.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Adrian Turner ...
Himself, film historian
Norman Spencer ...
Himself, associate to David Lean
Pamela Mann ...
Herself, assistant to David Lean (as Pamela Mann Francis)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Peter Newbrook ...
Himself
Teddy Darvas ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Donald M. Ashton ...
Himself
Keith Best ...
Himself, engineer
Jack Hildyard ...
Himself (archive footage)
Eddie Fowlie ...
Himself
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Storyline

This documentary, included with the film's DVD release treats movie fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Bridge on the River Kwai, about the determination of a group of British soldiers in a Japanese POW camp to maintain their dignity and spirit, even in the face of soul-crushing adversity. Includes archived footage of the cast and crew at work, and shows much of the efforts that were requried to make this piece of film history a reality. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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1.33 : 1
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This documentary is featured on the Limited Edition 2-disc DVD for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), released in 2000. See more »

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Features The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) See more »

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Excellent look back.
22 April 2005 | by (Luoyang, China) – See all my reviews

Clearly, the most difficult thing about making supplemental documentaries about movies that were made as long ago as Bridge on the River Kwai is that there is so little to work with. With DVDs and even home video in the distant future, on set interviews were much more rare than they are today, but Director Laurent Bouzereau displays great skills in matching up interviews of cast or, more often, crew members talking about certain things that happened during the making of the film and then following them up with those particular scenes from the movie. A similar tactic was used to great success in the making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which at least had interviews with both Paul Newman and Robert Redford, although they were audio only.

This documentary follows the making of the film from the initial translation of the original novel into English (from French) and then into an actual screenplay, which was scrapped and then started over again from scratch, to the screening of the finished film, where some great tricks were pulled on some lazy critics.

I recently saw Hotel Rwanda at a screening in Hollywood and one of the actors from the film was at the screening, and he told a story about the writers of the movie having been trying to find somebody to get interested in their script for something like five or six years, which was astounding to me because Hotel Rwanda is probably one of the two or three most powerful films I've ever seen. There is a similar story in the case of Bridge on the River Kwai, and this documentary goes into detail about the difficulties that the movie had being made. Not only was Alec Guinness near the bottom of the list of preferred actors for the lead role, but he wasn't interested much in the project himself to begin with.

There are some great stories about Sessue Hayakawa, who played Col. Saito in the film. Hayakawa is a well known silent film actor who had been acting for four decades by the time he appeared in this film, but this is by far the role that he is most known for. He made dozens of movies in the 1910s, like Chaplin did, which really makes me want to see some of them.

The documentary also explains the importance of the train wreck to the film as well as the difficulty in planning it. Even for blowing up a bridge and sending a full sized locomotive plummeting into the river it was a surprisingly complex plan, made even more difficult by the fact that no one really knew how powerful the explosion was going to be. Naturally, as is just the case when making movies, not everything goes according to plan, and this documentary has some great stories to tell about how a great story was made into a movie.


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