Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) needs to build a bridge in short order and uses prisoners of war as labor, officers included. New recruit British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) is all for building the bridge, good for morale, you know - pip pip!, but takes exception to the part about him doing some heavy lifting. The two strong headed leaders play a war of brinkmanship. This amuses American Major Shears (William Holden), who decides to high-tail it.

Nicholson obsesses on building the bridge his way, Saito is so pressed for time and has to concede, and Shears, rescued by the British, is voluntold to embark on an operation to destroy the same bridge. A fun time is had by all.

Bridge on the River Kwai is a wonderful character study. The three main characters (plus others) are fundamentally different in their perspective. Duty and self interest collide with obsession. Watching them interact was great. Some of the best acting I've seen yet. Sure, it's long. Sure, not much in the hot babe department. Watch it anyways. Now let's talk about the bridge.

The movie is based on a true story. Some details were changed to make it a fictitious story. The Japanese Colonel wasn't all mean, the bridge wasn't built in three months, and the whole ending part didn't happen at all. In fact, historians took exception to a great many things. Please don't get hung up on such matters and think of it as a great movie BASED on a true story. Like Lord of the Rings. AMRU 4.
"I know how you feel, but there's always the unexpected, isn't there"

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