Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture -Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957)

Starring Alec Guinness & William Holden

Rating 8/10

“Whistle… whistle whis whis tle, whistle, whistle whis whis whis stle, whistle whis whis whis whistle, whis whis whis whistle whistle whistle, bum bum bum bum bum bum!” You know what I mean? Who remembers and who can forget the famous war time song, ‘Colonel Bogey March’ performed by those stiff-upper-lipped chaps who refused to give in to the Japanese authority? How they whistled with such stiff lips is beyond me but whistle they did and a bridge did they build and that, my dear Oscar buffs is the film.

It is World War II. English soldiers have been captured by the Japanese in Western Thailand. There is a gap in the train line and the key is, you guessed it, a bridge over the River Kwai! The success of this operation depends on the Allied POWs and civilians. But in the midst of all this drama stands a stubborn chap, the leader of the English band, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) who refuses to let his officers get their dainty little hands dirty. No, he throws the Geneva Convention booklet in the face of Japanese commander, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) who literally throws it back in his smug little face. The English troops work like old women while the officers sweat it out in the dreaded ‘ovens’.

In the end stubbornness reigns and the English get their way. In fact Nicholson starts getting way too excited about the project and starts directing a shame-filled Saito. Meanwhile, escaped prisoner, US Navy Commander/Seaman Shears (Holden), shares his first-hand knowledge with the Allied forces who are preparing to blow up the bridge.

Finally, the bridge is completed as the Allied few make it, laying explosives at its base. Oooo this is where it really hots up. Nicholson has obviously invested way too much heart in this project and goes nuts, resulting in disaster. And you’ll have to watch the film to check out what he does. So very tense!

I’m not a war film lover but this was pretty good! It wasn’t as disturbing as later versions. In fact, the Japanese are depicted as lenient here. It appears that the story was more important to the director than any gore or major action sequences. The tension was well built and the edge of my lounge was well worn by the end.

This was a well crafted film from beginning (with artistic images, trains with graves and no music) to end (“Madness, Madness!”). The music reflects the pride and determination of the British under harsh circumstances. They see themselves as victors despite their dire circumstances. To some critics this was seen as an anti-British film but with all the pomp, it could easily be viewed in the opposite. Unless it was being sarcastic, it appears to be a patriotic British film, depicting the Japanese as disorganised, uncivilised and weak. Make up your own mind and let us know what you think!

Bridge on the River Kwai Trivia:

  • Budget – $3,000,000
  • This film was based on real events but for the most part is fictional. The Burma-Siam railway was built by soldiers and civilians, resulting in the death of 13,000 prisoners and 80,000 – 100,000 civilians.
  • Colonel Saito was based on a real Japanese officer who was renowned for his humane treatment of prisoners.
  • The bridge itself cost $250,000 to build (whiiiistttllleee)!
  • Director David Lean nearly died while filming when he was swept away by the strong river current, actor Geoffrey Horne jumped in and rescued him! A great way to impress the director!
  • The film was based on a novel by French writer, Pierre Boulle.
  • The leaches were real, the swamp wasn’t. Eeeeek! You’d have to love your work to volunteer for leach duty.
From Burma to France. That’s right, Oscar Club returns to Paris next time with the oo la la classic, Gigi, starring Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan. Grab a croissant and a cup of steaming cafe au lait and enjoy!

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One comment on “Best Picture -Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957)

  1. Pingback: 1957 Oscar Winners | Guide to be a winner

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