The Bridge on the River Kwai, British-American war film, released in 1957 and directed by David Lean, that was both a critical and popular success and became an enduring classic. Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa. The Colonel Bogey strain was accompanied by a counter-melody using the same chord progressions, then continued with film composer Malcolm Arnold's own composition, "The River Kwai March," played by the off-screen orchestra taking over from the whistlers, though Arnold's march was not heard in completion on the soundtrack. The site's critical consensus reads, "This complex war epic asks hard questions, resists easy answers, and boasts career-defining work from star Alec Guinness and director David Lean.  Slant stated that "the 1957 epic subtly develops its themes about the irrationality of honor and the hypocrisy of Britain's class system without ever compromising its thrilling war narrative", and in comparing to other films of the time said that Bridge on the River Kwai "carefully builds its psychological tension until it erupts in a blinding flash of sulfur and flame. Although the Kelani River was a slower-moving waterway during the film’s shooting than it is today, David Lean (the director of the movie) is said to have nearly drowned when the river swept him away during a break from filming. , Roger Ebert gives the film four out of four stars. , Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey of the British Army was the real senior Allied officer at the bridge in question. He described the music for The Bridge on the River Kwai as the "worst job I ever had in my life" from the point of view of time. Subsequent releases of the film finally gave them proper screen credit. It was initially scripted by screenwriter Carl Foreman, who was later replaced by Michael Wilson. Thanks to the film, the Bridge, situated in the Thai town of Kanchanaburi a couple of hours drive from Bangkok, is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions. The bridge in the film was near Kitulgala. What the film did not win was the respect and admiration from members of the Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) due to the fictitious portrayal of events. Both bridges were destroyed by Allied bombers on 2 April 1945, although they had been damaged and repaired several times before.  By October 1960, the film had earned worldwide box office revenues of $30 million. As the train approaches, they hurry down to the riverbank to investigate. But in Bangkok I was told that David Lean, the film's director, became mad at the extras who played the prisoners—us—because they couldn't march in time. He, Shears, and Canadian Lieutenant Joyce reach the river in time with the assistance of Siamese women bearers and their village chief, Khun Yai. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Only in 1984 did the Academyrectify the situation by retroactively awarding the Oscar t… That evening, the officers are placed in a punishment hut, while Nicholson is locked in an iron box after getting beaten as punishment. , The film initially received generally positive reviews, with Guinness being widely praised for his performance. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma, worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. Mitch Miller had a hit with a recording of both marches. ", The screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were on the Hollywood blacklist and, even though living in exile in England, could only work on the film in secret. When Joyce is mortally wounded by Japanese fire, Shears swims across the river, but is himself shot. The 1957 movie Bridge on the River Kwai may be one of the most famous war movies ever made, winning seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. swept seven Academy Awards including the award for Best Picture.  The 167-minute film was first telecast, uncut, in colour, on the evening of 25 September 1966, as a three hours-plus ABC Movie Special. It was still highly unusual at that time for a television network to show such a long film in one evening; most films of that length were still generally split into two parts and shown over two evenings. , The film was re-released in 1964 and earned a further estimated $2.6 million at the box office in the United States and Canada but the following year its revised total US and Canadian revenues were reported by Variety as $17,195,000. He wanders half-dead into a Siamese village, where he is nursed back to health before completing his escape to the British colony of Ceylon. However, cameraman Freddy Ford was unable to get out of the way of the explosion in time, and Lean had to stop filming. Realising he has no choice, Shears "volunteers". Witnessing the carnage, Clipton shakes his head, muttering, "Madness! The negative itself manifested many of the kinds of issues one would expect from a film of this vintage: torn frames, embedded emulsion dirt, scratches through every reel, colour fading. These problems resulted in a number of anomalies that were very difficult to correct, like a ghosting effect in many scenes that resembles colour mis-registration, and a tick-like effect with the image jumping or jerking side-to-side. Recently, the Tourist Board of Sri Lanka has considered installing a replica of the bridge from the film to promote further interest in Kitulgala and its surrounding rainforests to visiting tourists. In the film, a Colonel Saito is camp commandant. Madness! Also, in the novel, the bridge is not destroyed: the train plummets into the river from a secondary charge placed by Warden, but Nicholson (never realising "what have I done?") The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 epic war film directed by David Lean and based on the 1952 novel written by Pierre Boulle. , The Bridge on the River Kwai was a massive commercial success. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. Spike from the Burma Railroad. Nicholson is shocked by the poor job being done by his men. Although it was not exposed to sunlight, the heat-sensitive colour film stock should have been hopelessly ruined; however, when processed the shots were perfect and appeared in the film. The adventure war film The Bridge on the River Kwai may have swept the board of awards and attracted acclaim as one best films of the 20th century, but …  Guinness later reflected on the scene, calling it the "finest piece of work" he had ever done. Visit Kitulgala during the peak season of January to March, as the climate is cooler and with less rainfall; it’s the ideal time to partake in a variety of water sports in the area. The documentary itself was described by one newspaper reviewer when it was shown on Boxing Day 1974 (The Bridge on the River Kwai had been shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day 1974) as "Following the movie, this is a rerun of the antidote.". When Major Clipton, the British medical officer, warns Saito there are too many witnesses for him to get away with murder, Saito leaves the officers standing all day in the intense heat.  Ernest Gordon, a survivor of the railway construction and POW camps described in the novel/film, stated in a 1962 book, Through the Valley of the Kwai: "In Pierre Boulle's book The Bridge over the River Kwai and the film which was based on it, the impression was given that British officers not only took part in building the bridge willingly, but finished in record time to demonstrate to the enemy their superior efficiency.  According to Variety, the film earned estimated domestic box office revenues of $18,000,000 although this was revised downwards the following year to $15,000,000, which was still the biggest for 1958 and Columbia's highest-grossing film at the time. The British Film Institute placed The Bridge on the River Kwai as the 11th greatest British film. Warden is wounded in an encounter with a Japanese patrol and has to be carried on a litter. The two did not collaborate on the script; Wilson took over after Lean was dissatisfied with Foreman's work. On this, its 60th birthday, The Bridge on the River Kwai has lost none of its majesty. He knew that the railway ran parallel to the Kwae for many miles, and he therefore assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just north of Kanchanaburi. We hadn't much breath left for whistling. British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors, not knowing that the allied forces are planning to destroy it. By daybreak the river level has dropped, exposing the wire connecting the explosives to the detonator. Lean filmed the scene from behind Guinness and exploded in anger when Guinness asked him why he was doing this. The four commandos parachute in, though one is killed on landing.  He strongly denied the claim that the book was anti-British, although many involved in the film itself (including Alec Guinness) felt otherwise. , Lean nearly drowned when he was swept away by the river current during a break from filming.. Both bridges were used for two years, until they were destroyed by Allied bombing. Usually, the correspondence centres on requests for support from the War Office. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities.  Some consider the film to be an insulting parody of Toosey. In reality, Japanese engineers proved to be just as capable at construction efforts as their Allied counterparts.. , The film was restored in 1992 by Columbia Pictures. What I Learned From Watching: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) YouTube Video A video essay written, edited, and narrated by Tyler Knudsen about the production of “River Kwai” and some film … Whether via VHS, widescreen VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, or even high-definition Blu-ray, it has long been plagued by an overly contrasty, crushed, murky look that didn’t quash its emotional impact but nonetheless seemed like a missed opportunity, especially given the film’s lush setting. Warden responds that he already knew and that the American Navy had agreed to transfer him to the British Army, along with Shears receiving a commission of major, to avoid embarrassment. In an interview he said that "There were a lot of lessons in that", Buffett said of the film. The official credit was given to Pierre Boulle (who did not speak English), and the resulting Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation) was awarded to him. The steel bridge was repaired and is still in use today. You may not have heard of Kanchanaburi, but there’s a strong chance that you’re familiar with the 1957 Academy Award-winning dramatic film ‘The Bridge Over the River Kwai’, which was set there. In a 1988 interview with Barry Norman, Lean confirmed that Columbia almost stopped filming after three weeks because there was no white woman in the film, forcing him to add what he calls, "a very terrible scene" between William Holden and the nurse on the beach. Correspondence between film companies and the War Office turns up in a number of files at The National Archives. Discover this hidden gem set away from the crowds.  It has been included on the American Film Institute's list of best American films ever made. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 World War II epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai (1952) by Pierre Boulle.The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. The commandant, Colonel Saito, informs them that all prisoners, regardless of rank, will work on the construction of a railway bridge over the River Kwai that will connect Bangkok and Rangoon. Ordinarily, the film would have been taken by boat to London, but due to the Suez crisis this was impossible; therefore the film was taken by air freight. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” won Best Picture and six other Oscar nods from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the 1958 Academy Awards. , The film was an international co-production between companies in Britain and the United States.  Gavin Young recounts meeting Donald Wise, a former prisoner of the Japanese who had worked on the Burma Railway. It was repaired in time to be blown up the next morning, with Bandaranaike and his entourage present. The novel was made into the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by David Lean, which won the 1957 Academy Award for Best Picture. In many tense, dramatic scenes, only the sounds of nature are used. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities. Lean had a lengthy row with Guinness over how to play the role of Nicholson; Guinness wanted to play the part with a sense of humour and sympathy, while Lean thought Nicholson should be "a bore." The filming location for Bridge on the River Kwai is today indicated by a discreet, rusted piece of metal on which directions to the area have been painted. The march was written in 1914 by Kenneth J. Alford, a pseudonym of British Bandmaster Frederick J. Ricketts. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic 1957 British-American war film based upon the 1952 novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The dazed colonel stumbles towards the detonator and collapses on the plunger, blowing up the bridge and send the train hurtling into the river. The film was directed by David Lean and starred William Holding, Jack … The destruction of the bridge as depicted in the film is also entirely fictional. When the shipment failed to arrive in London, a worldwide search was undertaken. ", A 1969 BBC television documentary, Return to the River Kwai, made by former POW John Coast, sought to highlight the real history behind the film (partly through getting ex-POWs to question its factual basis, for example Dr Hugh de Wardener and Lt-Col Alfred Knights), which angered many former POWs.  Boulle had never been to the bridge. Toosey was very different from Nicholson and was certainly not a collaborator who felt obliged to work with the Japanese. In March 1958, The Bridge on the River Kwai swept seven Academy Awards including the award for Best Picture. According to Columbia Pictures, they followed an all-new 4K digital restoration from the original negative with newly restored 5.1 audio. Wise: "I never heard it in Thailand. For example, a Sergeant-Major Risaburo Saito was in real life second in command at the camp. A train carrying important dignitaries and soldiers is scheduled to be the first to cross the bridge the following day, so Warden waits to destroy both. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a British 1957 movie from Columbia Pictures, based on Pierre Boulle's 1952 book The Bridge over the River Kwai (French: Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai).The movie was mainly filmed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and also in England.. , The plot and characters of Boulle's novel and the screenplay were almost entirely fictional.. Lean shouted at them, 'For God's sake, whistle a march to keep time to.' In particular, they objected to the implication presented in the film that Japanese military engineers were generally unskilled and unproficient at their professions. The Bridge on The River Kwai. The fourth film in our blog series is ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957) directed by David Lean. Toosey in fact did as much as possible to delay the building of the bridge. , Slant Magazine gave the film four out of five stars. Under cover of darkness, Shears and Joyce plant explosives on the bridge towers. The bridge that was used to shoot the movie in 1956 and 1957 no longer exists, as it was dismantled once filming had concluded in order to protect the ecology of the surrounding environment. Thailand's Kanchanaburi. In early 1943, British POWs arrive at a Japanese prison camp in Burma.  The original negative for the feature was scanned at 4k (roughly four times the resolution in High Definition), and the colour correction and digital restoration were also completed at 4k. Nicholson yells for help, while attempting to stop Joyce from reaching the detonator. , Director David Lean clashed with his cast members on multiple occasions, particularly Alec Guinness and James Donald, who thought the novel was anti-British. When the Japanese launched their lightning attacks in December 1941, they not only targeted the American fleet and its island bases, but … The Bridge on the River Kwai has never been a great-looking film. However, the true history of what really happened during the building of the bridge over the River Kwai has almost been erased by the popularity of the movie. In reality, Risaburo Saito was respected by his prisoners for being comparatively merciful and fair towards them.  In 1999, the British Film Institute voted The Bridge on the River Kwai the 11th greatest British film of the 20th century. ", Variety gave high praise for the movie saying that it is "a gripping drama, expertly put together and handled with skill in all departments. Thank God that I'm starting work tomorrow with an American actor (William Holden).". Joyce, manning the detonator, breaks cover and stabs Saito to death. Over the protests of some of his officers, he orders Captain Reeves and Major Hughes to build a proper bridge, in order to maintain his men's morale and pride in their professionalism. The two did not collaborate on the script; Wilson took over after Lean was dissatisfied with Foreman's work. Some of the characters in the film use the names of real people who were involved in the Burma Railway. Shears is so appalled at going back he confesses he is not an officer; he impersonated one, expecting better treatment from the Japanese. But the reality was a bit different than the movie. But the unusual move paid off for ABC—the telecast drew huge ratings with a record audience of 72 million and a Nielsen rating of 38.3 and an audience share of 61%. The Bridge on the River Kwai is an epic World War II film directed by David Lean and based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. Both writers had to work in secret, as they were on the Hollywood blacklist and had fled to the UK in order to continue working. On February 1, 2021, MHM's Film Reviews will only be available on our YouTube Channel. , This article is about the film. Shears, who is a British commando officer like Warden in the novel, became an American sailor who escapes from the POW camp. Boulle based his novel, published in 1952, on his … The movie garnered seven Academy Awards, including that for best picture, as well as three Golden Globe Awards and four BAFTA awards. , Warren Buffett said it was his favorite movie. Nicholson drives his men hard to complete the bridge on time. Did he really want the enemy to come in across it?”, Some Japanese viewers disliked the film's depiction of the Japanese characters present in the movie and the historical background presented as being inaccurate, particularly in the interactions between Saito and Nicholson. However, in 1943 a railway bridge was built by Allied POWs over the Mae Klong river – renamed Khwae Yai in the 1960s as a result of the film – at Tha Ma Kham, five kilometres from Kanchanaburi, Thailand. "The ending of that was sort of the story of life. Bridge on the River Kwai was the highest-grossing film of 1957 and received overwhemingly positive reviews from critics. The film uses the historical setting of the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943. That makes the Bridge on the River Kwai one of Kanchanaburi’s most popular war-related attractions – there are always crowds trudging across it and snapping photos – but it is actually something of a misnomer. 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