The Bridge on the River Kwai

Released 1957


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Movie Summary

David Lean
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic war-adventure film from the master of the sprawling epic of yesteryear David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Great Expectations). Set mostly in a Japanese internment camp in India, the film starts off following Major Shears (the great William Holden) as he struggles to survive laboring in the camp, run by the stern and unshakeable Colonel Saito. Things take an interesting turn with the arrival of a contingent of British soldiers led by the stoic Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) ' who stand straight before the man and refuse having their officers doing manual labor alongside their men on the project Saito is supervising for the Japanese in this part of the world: building a bridge across the River Kwai, which will act as a railroad connection between Bangkok and Rangoon. It soon becomes a battle of wills between Saito and Nicholson as neither refuses to budge from their position ' with Nicholson having decidedly far more to lose. Meanwhile, Shears escapes, barely gets back to civilization alive and is sent back on a secret commando mission to blow the bridge up before it can be put into service.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    The story in the jungle moves ahead neatly, economically, powerfully.

  • 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The post-World War II cinematic landscape is littered with big-budget movies about the conflict and the toll it took upon those who participated. Some of those pictures have become...

  • 100

    Slant Magazine

    Whereas Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago feel more pictorial than cinematic, The Bridge on the River Kwai carefully builds its psychological tension until it erupts in a blind...

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Classics, Military & War