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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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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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Top Rated Movies #139 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 23 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Cmdr. Shears
... Colonel Nicholson
... Major Warden
... Colonel Saito
... Major Clipton / Doctor
... Lieutenant Joyce
... Colonel Green (as Andre Morell)
Peter Williams ... Captain Reeves
John Boxer ... Major Hughes
... Grogan
... Baker
... Nurse
Heihachirô Ôkawa ... Captain Kanematsu (as Heihachirô 'Henry' Ôkawa)
Keiichirô Katsumoto ... Lieutenant Miura (as Keiichiro Katsumoto) (as K. Katsumoto)
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu ... Yai
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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

Taglines:

It spans a whole new world of entertainment!

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:

El puente sobre el río Kwai  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$44,908,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(1973 re-isssue 70 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| (35 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| (Linear PCM)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford, like Howard Hawks, was considered as a director before David Lean was chosen. See more »

Goofs

The first time that Warden is seen to be looking at the bridge site through binoculars he is clearly actually only looking at the rock ledge, on which he is lying, a few inches in front of him. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Nicholson: Hughes, if this were your bridge, how would you use the men?
Major Hughes: [chuckles] Well, sir, not the way they're doing it. It's utter chaos, as you can see at a glance. It's a lot of uncoordinated activity; no teamwork. Some of those parties are actually working against each other.
Colonel Nicholson: Yes... I tell you, gentlemen, we have a problem on our hands. Thanks to the Japanese, we now command a rabble. There's no order, no discipline. Our task is to rebuild the battalion.
Major Reeves: Yes, sir.
Colonel Nicholson: It isn't going to be easy, but ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

And introducing Geoffrey Horne See more »

Connections

Referenced in On a marché sur Bangkok (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Radio Dance Music
(uncredited)
Music by Dave Shand
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ageless and all but perfect
6 September 1999 | by See all my reviews

Of all war movies this is the one with the best idea behind it. Think how easy it is to make a bad war movie. A group of people must blow up a bridge, and this is the story of their quest ... Actually, that DID serve as the premise for a film: it was called `Force Ten from Navarone', and it was dire. Or how about this one: we see close up the brutalities of war. (Then we see them again. Then we see some more of the brutalities of war. Then we see the credits.) Or how about this: a humble American soldier, with the pragmatism native to his breed, rejects his superiors' highfalutin talk of honour and glory and asserts his basic humanity in trying to stay alive. Or this one: we see English prisoners of war maintain their dignity in the face of Japanese brutality.

They're all present, in a sort of a way: but ALSO present is a magnificent, long, suspenseful, tight story, around which these apparent clichés wrap naturally. If the clichés don't wrap naturally then they, not the story, are bent out of shape. Just when we think that the American pragmatist will turn out to be the hero, we see him cut a rather shabby figure, and it seems that there really WAS something to that highfalutin talk of honour and glory, after all. But then we discover that he has standards of his own, and they appear to be better ones. But THEN it seems that ... I could go on indefinitely, since there are many people here with something to be said for them, and it requires some thought to see who has the most to be said for him in the end.

There's almost no need to mention the excellent performances, photography and music. The only thing one might have qualms about is historical accuracy. Nothing like this ever happened. Still, that makes the movie much less dishonest than those that base themselves on historical events, and then proceed to get them all wrong. You can only be misled by `The Bridge on the River Kwai' if you don't know that it's pure fiction. Well - you know now.


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