The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Movie Of The Week: The Bridge On The River Kwai

I should be crawling into bed right now, but TCM has played an evil trick on me and I'm forced to watch this 3 hour epic.

The Bridge On The River Kwai is a masterpiece. William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa lead a magnificent cast in a story of POW's in Japanese held Thailand forced to build a bridge on the Burma railway. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942-43 for its historical setting.

The POW camp is run by the sadistic Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), his sole concern is the construction of his bridge by the deadline. The Senior POW is Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). His sole concern is proper military order. Both men are blinded by their vision.

The lone American in the camp is US Navy Commander Shears (William Holden), who has been held prisoner long before the British arrive and routinely bribes guards to ensure he gets sick duty, which allows him to avoid hard labor.

Shears manages to escape and returns to friendly territory. But he has a secret uncovered and is blackmailed by Major Warden (Jack Hawkins), a member of the British Special Forces, to lead a demolition team back to destroy the bridge.

Meanwhile, Colonel Nicholson has taken control of the construction. He inspires the men to stop sabotage efforts and build a solid, first rate bridge to instill esprit de corps. It is only when he discovers the demolition team's explosives that he realises what he has done.

It's a magnificent film. The cinematography is breathtaking and the performances stunning. There's a reason this film cleaned up at the 1957 film awards taking home 3 Golden Globes and 7 Oscars. It is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made.

In 1997, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.

1 comment:

el chupacabra said...

Regarding the Burma Railway-"Herbert James "Ringer" Edwards (July 26, 1913–June 2000), was an Australian soldier during World War II. As a prisoner of war (POW), he survived being crucified for 63 hours by Japanese soldiers on the Burma Railway. Edwards was the basis for the character of "Joe Harman" in the 1950 Neville Shute novel A Town Like Alice (also known as The Legacy). The book was the basis for a 1956 film (also known as The Rape of Malaya)."
Um, yes that said "crucified", he and 2 others were crucified for slaughtering a cow to feed themselves and the other prisoners.
He died in 2000.
Something tells me they don't men like him anymore.