Tuesday, September 10, 2013

197 of 1001 Movies: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on River Kwai is know as a war classic. It depicts a part of war that most wouldn't ponder over it and it brings up good questions about work ethic and warring itself. The only thing was it wasn't until the last 15 minutes or so that I felt really excited about the movie. Before that I was chugging along for 2 hours hoping for anything to get my attention. It does some nice character development because by the end you can see how a person might have been misled or how the other feels justified in the choices they have made.

Summary: The Japanese have been trying to get their POW's to build a bridge. This bridge is crucial to Colonel Saito to build to save his own life, but he mistreats the prisoners into rebellion. When he sees that he is in a losing battle he lets Colonel Nicholson out his torture unit and back with his army to command them after he failed at convincing him to work. Colonel Nicholson takes his dedication to work seriously, and how his men are perceived, so he sets everyone up to be motivated to build the bridge. What he doesn't know though is that his army is plotting to destroy the bridge though.

Acting: The acting is the strongest part of the movie. It causes the movie to escape the dated feel to the 50's, and if I had to guess it almost feels like a movie from the late 60's or 70's. William Holden is Shears, and probably one of the more intriguing characters. He seems to have no real dedication to anyone, but the idea of getting home, which is understandable. Alec Guinness is Colonel Nicholson, and probably my favorite of the cast. He treads this line where you're beginning to question his loyalty, but by the end you see his true colors, and that he's just a guy who cares about the order of things. He does some things in his own power that seem questionable though. Jack Hawkins is Major Warden who sets out to plot the attack, and to be honest I felt his character lacked the development that the other two had. Sessue Hayakawa is Colonel Saito, and while not a likable character he still has some complex issues going on.

Filming: While there are some harsh things happening in the jungle where the prisoners are captive, the director, David Lean, also captures the beauty of their surroundings. I love how he captures the atmosphere of the morning and the evening so well. When it's the middle of the day the heat feels just as hot too. While the changing between scenes still feels very with the 50's it still has a way of conveying the story that makes it stand out as a classic.

Plot: The plot is a tad slow at first. I like how they develop the characters through this, but there were lulls where it just felt it took a long time to get a path. Like when Colonel Saito is torturing Colonel Nicholson. I did feel closer to the character after this, but it was also like you knew either he had to break, die, or change his mind at some point about him, but it takes like what feels like an hour to do this. The half hour or so grows really intense, and that is when you know you've become attached to the characters well. I liked how the movie focuses in on work ethic as well, and straddles this line of loyalty to make the characters seem like good people.

The Bridge On River Kwai is a must for fans of war movies. It has a lot of unique and good themes that seem to have been a bit forgotten. If you're not a fan of war movies though the plot might drag a bit unless you can latch on to the idea of the characters. It's well shot though, and the use of color in a time where color still wasn't the norm is well done.

Rating 7 of 10

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) on IMDb

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