Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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. [imdb]

Nominated for 8 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: David Lean (WINNER)
Best Actor: Alec Guinness (WINNER)
Best Supporting Actor: Sessue Hayakawa
Best Adapted Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Original Score (WINNER)
Best Cinematography (WINNER)
Best Editing (WINNER)

The Bridge on the River Kwai is an excellent film that is also the 30th winner of the Best Picture Oscar. I had seen scenes from it before, I knew the ending, but I never enjoyed it from beginning to end and I gladly did it now for my Best Picture series. It's a beautiful action film, interestingly divided in chapters with some that are simply fantastic. The first hour-hour and a half is the best. Guinness and Hayakawa both deliver remarkable performances and it's in their scenes that the film reaches the highest quality of writing, acting, directing.

It was very enjoyable seeing the two working together, as their scenes of rivalry are really entertaining, in a dramatic way. While I didn't care so much about the William Holden part of the film, I understand its role and it does contribute to the action element of this picture. The cinematography, the music, the editing, the art direction are all fascinant and very efficient. David Lean's direction is subtle and it's another proof that he was a great storyteller.

The film's final hour is not as captivating as the first part, but the fabulous ending is exactly the right choice. It probably deserved most of its wins, though I'm holding back a bit on Guinness - he's great, he really is, but he was competing against Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution, so it's difficult to choose between such fascinating performances.

My rating for the film: 8.5/10. Good piece of action-drama.


  1. Yeah, it's a good one but I might go with 12 Angry Men.

  2. I've actually never seen 12 Angry Men. I'm sure it's good, I just never had a calling for it.

  3. It was actually different for me - the first hour was not so good, but the last part was exhilarating. I agree that it was a great film, though.

    I cannot see the reason why are there so big praises for Guinness, but I think he played his character quite well.

  4. It's a movie that grows with each viewing, superb performances from Guinness and Hayakawa that perfectly represent two dying Empires and how the war will ultimately change both their concepts of honour and loyalty.