remains of a half-torn ticket

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bridge on the River Kwai

Director:David Lean
Genre: War
Cast: Alec Guinness, William Holden
Language: English
IMDB Rank- 68

Indians associate war movies more with the mythological warfare as in the battle of Mahabharata in which arrows with mystical powers flow from one side to other. There are also horses and elephants and a row of walking soldiers taking orders from the senapati. Only in the past few decades we have moved to era of Border type movies having tanks and gun fires.Even in Hollywood most of the war movies are full of gun fires , battle tanks , strategies to bring down the enemy. But this movie Bridge on the River Kwai was different from all other and had very few cliches which we normally attach to a war movie.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of five films on this site that cover the tumultuous years of the Second World War. The others are Patton , The Great Escape, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. They are part of the larger History in Film web site that supports teaching history using popular films

Simple story; Col Nicholson wants to maintain the dignity of British army by making a great bridge and other party wants to destroy the bridge. Whole movie is around this magnificent gripping suspenseful story with beautiful picturesque scenic backgrounds. There are three main characters in the movie Colonel Nicholson, Colonel Saito and Shears.

Even though the film is a classic and is loved by many film fans but it caused considerable stress to real life Colonel Nicholson and river Kwai veterans as the incidents are grossly misrepresented. Real Colonel endured regular beatings when he complained of ill-treatment of prisoners, but as a skilled negotiator he was able to win many concessions from the Japanese by convincing them that this would speed the completion of the work. Behind their backs, however, he did everything possible to delay and sabotage the construction without endangering his men, and also helped organize a daring escape, at considerable cost to himself.

Colonel Nicholson
He carried himself through the whole film beautifully. He was loved by all his regiment men, he instilled faith in his team and through his negotiation skills was able to get the best for his team. He also made Saito men work in same environment and for the same time.

Colonel Nicholson: Now, there's another important decision that can't be postponed. As most of the British soldiers will be working on the bridge, only a small number will be available for railway work. So, I must ask you, Colonel Saito, to lend us some of your own men to reinforce the railway gang, so that the final stretch of track can be completed as quickly as possible.
Colonel Saito: I have already given the order.
Colonel Nicholson: We must fix the daily work quota for your men. At first I thought of setting it at a yard and a half, so as not to overtire them, but don't you think it would be best if we make it the same as the British soldiers? That would also create a healthy competitive spirit.
Colonel Saito: I have already given the order.

Colonel Saito
He is different, you will not find such a lenient colonel in a prisoners camp. He at times is crazy at Nicholson for accepting the punishment and at times in awe of the British colonel. You will hate him for what he is doing.

Cmdr. Shears:
I'd say the odds against a successful escape are about 100 to one. But may I add another word, Colonel? The odds against survival in this camp are even worse.
He manages to escape with sheer grit, luck and determination but later on the return to the bridge again is his only way to escape the bridge.

He has some fantastic dialogues like the one:

You make me sick with your heroics! There's a stench of death about you. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L-pills - they go well together, don't they? And with you it's just one thing or the other: destroy a bridge or destroy yourself. This is just a game, this war! You and Colonel Nicholson, you're two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman... how to die by the rules - when the only important thing is how to live like a human being.

I enjoyed the lovely whistling tune known as Colonel Bogey March sung by the marching soldiers . Listen to it below:

Its not a movie review of a great movie. I just want to remind you of the great movie which you all must watch. What are you thoughts on this great movie??