"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Movie Review: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Hello, movie lovers!

Anyone who really, really, loves movies has most likely heard of the Oscars. And it is likely that they want to watch all of the Best Picture winners to see why they got that award. Well, that's how it is with me. I am always super excited to watch a Best Picture winner that I haven't seen before. About a year ago I watched the movie that I am reviewing for you today, and I've been mulling it over in my mind ever since. And boy, it deserved Best Picture. I hope that you enjoy my review!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free!

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957):
Based on: The Bridge over the River Kwai - by Pierre Boulle.
"You mean, you mean to uphold the letter of the law, no matter the cost?"
During World War II, part of the British army was advised to surrender instead of lose their lives and now are in a Japanese POW camp. They are given orders to be a work force to build a bridge. They are also ordered that officers will be working alongside the men, but one of the commanding officers, Colonel Nicholson, is firmly against this because by the Geneva Convention they are exempt from that, and are supposed to just be leaders who help direct and command. The fight is against Colonel Saito who hates any resistance in his outpost. One soldier makes plans to escape from this place, but the odds are highly against him. Will the bridge be built on the River Kwai?
"Do not speak to me of rules, this is war!"
 Adventure, Drama, War.
Length: approx. 161 minutes.
Script: 9, I'm giving this a tentative 9 because I can't remember any bad words, and I didn't write down that there were any, but there may be one or two.
"Colonel, do you suppose that we could have a cup of tea?"
Crew: Directed by: David Lean. Written by: Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson, & Pierre Boulle.
Alec Guinness as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson.
William Holden as Commander Shears.
Sessue Hayakawa as Colonel Saito.
Jack Hawkins as Major Warden.
Geoffrey Horne as Lieutenant Joyce.
James Donald as Major Clipton.
Andre Morell as Colonel Green.
Peter Williams as Captain Reeves.
John Boxer as Major Hughes.
Percy Herbert as Private Grogan.
Harold Goodwin as Private Baker.
Ann Sears as Nurse.
Heihachirô 'Henry' Ôkawa as Captain Kanematsu.
Keiichiro Katsumoto as Lieutenant Miura.
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu as Yai.
Costumes: 7, there are quite a few times when guys are walking around without a shirt on and there are pictures of people wearing scanty clothing.
Cinematography: 10, there is a weird quality to this cinematography, but whatever it is, it is very memorable! I love watching movies with my dad because he notices a lot of things and points them out. With this movie, he pointed out in one scene when it was supposed to be night, you could tell that they filmed it in daylight and then put a filter over it. Kind of nifty! I couldn't find a picture of it, so you'll just have to keep an eye out for it when you watch this movie.
Cinematography by: Jack Hildyard.
Music: 9, the "Colonel Bogey March" is the "Comet" song! My sisters and I have known this little ditty for as long as we can remember. I knew that it came from the film, but still, watching the opening is so incredible and powerful and moving with this tune included.
Music by: Malcolm Arnold.
Quotes: 7, I won't give it away, but the last line is quoted a lot. For the rest of the lines, I think of them from time to time, but I don't actually say them out loud.
"That man's the worst commanding officer I've ever come across. Actually, I think he's mad."
Oscars won: 7!: Best Motion Picture, Best Director (David Lean), Best Actor (Alec Guinness), Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Scoring, Best Cinematography, & Best Film Editing.
Content: 7, while this is a war movie, it is about a prisoner camp so there isn't active fighting as there would be in a normal war movie. But, there is still killing, death, and some abuse. In addition to that there is smoking, some suggestive things, and crude humor.
"Poor brave lad."
Originality: 9, as I said, most war movies include a lot of action with a lot of fighting, and it was something new for me to see something different. It was still such an intense and gripping film, but in different ways, while still having some similar elements. It was especially interesting to me because I don't hear a lot about something from WWII that wasn't happening in Europe. To see part from Asia was fascinating.
Good For: Any Alec Guinness fans, anyone trying to watch all the Best Picture winners, anyone and everyone.
Age Range: So much happens in this movie and it is just so incredibly thought provoking that I think if I was any younger than I was when I watched this my brain would have stopped working from an overload of information. To me, there was never a dull moment through the whole thing, but for little kids it might be different. I'd say the average age for someone to understand this film (what am I talking about? I still don't understand it fully!) would be at least 15, but it depends on each person's level of interest.
Overall Score: 9! I'm really rounding up because of how much I enjoyed it!
Worth watching?: Yes! This movie isn't absolutely historically accurate, and you can tell in places where parts where added for drama, but even with that it is a superb (huh, I don't think I've ever used that adjective) story.
Will I watch again?: You bet I will! This is one of those things that you don't watch every few months (like my favorite movies), but something that you see every few years and really ponder it each time. I intend to have my younger sister watch this with me someday, and even after that I'll be watching it from time to time.
Bonus thoughts:
"There are some times when you realize you are nearer the end than the beginning."
Wow, where to begin? I don't say this often, but this is a movie that everyone should see at least once in their life. After watching it my dad, older sister, and I stayed up late just talking about what had happened in the film. Warning, this movie makes you conflicted. By the end you feel torn apart, and that is its purpose. It makes you question many things, and most notably for me, pride. Do you sometimes feel that you are doing something that will help, when it will be the opposite for others? It plays with the questions of who is right, and who is wrong? Who is good, and who is bad? With a war dividing people this question is much harder than initially thought.
Alec Guinness is marvelous in this. The way that he cheers his men and they respect him made me teary. In fact, I was really emotional through the whole thing. Even though William Holden got top billing in the credits, Alec Guinness won the Oscar which is why I put him first. I have not seen Sessue Hayakawa in many things, but this performance was wonderful. So much tension is built by how he and Colonel Nicholson are fighting each other.
I can't give this movie as much recognition as it deserves. Really, you all have to go watch it for yourselves and have your hearts be ripped to shreads by the events.
"Well, I must be pushing on."

WHEW. Just writing this review made me think so much about it and be all emotional. I've been wanting to write this review ever since I saw it, and I'm so happy that I finally did! A shoutout to Keturah Lamb who sent me pictures from this back in March asking me if I knew what film it was! That really threw me into gear to write this review, even if it took seven months...

Thank you so much for reading! Please, if there is anyone else who has seen this, let me know! And if you haven't seen it yet, you should at the next opportunity, then we can talk. Tell me about your favorite Best Picture from the Oscars movie! Favorite war movie?



  1. I don't actually have a coherent comment to leave, but I have seen this movie! And I quite enjoyed it!
    (Also: I KNOW that I've seen more WWII movies in the Pacific Theater, but all I can think of is Father Goose(1964) with Cary Grant. But it IS one I think you would enjoy so I'm just going to leave it there)

    1. Dude, I am the master of incoherent comments. XD Thanks for leaving one, anyway! :D
      EEEP! I LOVE Father Goose (1964)! I haven't seen the beginning, but still. Cary Grant is amazing. The first WWI in the Pacific movie that I saw was South Pacific which I didn't like, but I really enjoyed this and FG!

  2. I don't think I've seen this movie. It looks really good, though. I've been meaning to see some more war movies for awhile, and this seems like a good place to start. Great review, even if I haven't seen it.

    1. Yes, this is a great place to start! My dad, older sister, and I watched this first when we went into a kick of watching war movies. Out of the three that we saw, this was my favorite! Thanks, McKayla!

  3. This post is quite providential. A while ago we watched a bit of Star Wars with some friends who'd never seen it, and their dad was pointing out Alec Guinness, who'd been in this other movie they'd seen (and loved), and the more he talked about it the more I wanted to see it, but I could not for the LIFE of me remember the name afterward! But it was this movie! I am so glad I know what name to look out for now.

    Mister Roberts is kind of a Pacific theatre movie (I think), and The Wackiest Ship in the Army is definitely a Pacific theatre movie, although a comedy. Those are the only movies I can think of set in the Pacific Theatre, though - I agree, they need to be more common!

    A little bit random, but have you seen Alec Guinness in The Mudlark? That's an old movie, that is mildly boring, but he plays Disraeli (Victorian Prime Minister of England) and does SUCH a good job. He's an excellent actor.
    (Excellent review, by the way! I'm even wilder to see this movie than I was before. :P)

    1. Wow, my timing is perfect and I didn't even realize it! ;) Ah, showing Star Wars to people who have never seen it before is the best. Plus, it sounds like you showed it to them in the right order, so bravo! I'm glad that I could help you out! I seem to do that a lot with this movie...

      I've heard of those but haven't seen them. I'll have to watch both of those now! I've seen South Pacific (1958) (didn't love, but I was little and pretty bored. Maybe I just need to see it again), this, and (as MK reminded me) Father Goose (1964). That last one is a comedy as well, and very funny!

      Ohhhhh, no I haven't seen The Mudlark, but from your description it sounds good! Please, never hesitate to recommend movies to me (especially with Alec Guinness!)! I love finding new things to watch. Alec Guinness is fantastic and I can't believe that I've only seen him in three roles. So much to look forward to!
      (Thank you so much, Sarah! :D Enjoy! )

  4. Ahhhh this movie was super amazing! I'm so glad you helped me find it ;) One of the few movies I've bought, which means I do plan on rewatching it! But I didn't know it was based on a book? Must look that up now!

    MB: keturahskorner.blogspot.com
    PB: thegirlwhodoesntexist.com

    1. ;) Yay! I'm glad you liked it! I'd been wondering what you thought of it, and I'd hoped that you'd enjoyed it as much as I did! Yeah, I didn't know that it was based on a book either until I started doing research. If we both read it we'll have to talk some more. ;) Thanks for commenting, Keturah!

  5. I loooove this movie! Alec Guinness is fantastic in this. But it's also one of the best psychological dramas I've ever seen. Great review!

    1. Another fan! Yes! I'm happy that Alec Guinness won that Oscar because it was well deserved. I agree with that! The tension and suspense kept me hooked the whole way through. Thank you, Marian!


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles