The Bridge on the River Kwai
Overview
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 film by David Lean
David Lean
Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

 based on The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle was a French novelist largely known for two famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes .-Biography:...

. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

, Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

, Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins
Colonel John Edward "Jack" Hawkins CBE was an English actor of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.-Career:Hawkins was born at Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green, Middlesex, the son of master builder Thomas George Hawkins and his wife, Phoebe née Goodman. The youngest of four children in a close-knit family,...

 and Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa
was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...

. The film was shot in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 (credited as Ceylon
Dominion of Ceylon
The Dominion of Ceylon, known today as Sri Lanka, was a dominion, in the British Empire between 1948 and 1972. In 1948, British Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. In 1972, the Dominion of Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth, and its name was changed to Sri Lanka...

, as it was known at the time). The bridge itself was located near Kitulgala
Kitulgala
Kitulgala is a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. It is in the wet zone rain forest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month...

.

In 1997, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

.
After the surrender of Singapore
Battle of Singapore
The Battle of Singapore was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War when the Empire of Japan invaded the Allied stronghold of Singapore. Singapore was the major British military base in Southeast Asia and nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East"...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, a unit of British soldiers are marched to a Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 prison camp
Prisoner-of-war camp
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of combatants captured by their enemy in time of war, and is similar to an internment camp which is used for civilian populations. A prisoner of war is generally a soldier, sailor, or airman who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or...

 in western Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.
Quotations

One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clipton, even in captivity.

Here lies Corporal Herbert Thompson, serial number 01234567, valiant member of the King's own, and Queen's own, or something, who died of beriberi in the year of our Lord 1943. For the greater glory of...[pause] what did he die for?...I don't mock the grave or the man. May he rest in peace. He found little enough of it while he was alive.

Mostly Aussies, some Lime, some British, Indians, Burmese, Siamese...They died, of malaria, dysentery, beriberi, gangrene. Other causes of death: famine, overwork, bullet wounds, snake bites, Saito. And then there were some who just got tired of living.

[watching the British prisoners walk into the camp] We're going to be a busy pair of gravediggers.

You speak to me of code. What code? The coward's code. What do you know of the soldier's code? Of bushido? Nothing. You are unworthy of command.

I hate the British. You are defeated, but you have no shame. You are stubborn, but have no pride. You endure, but you have no courage.

Encyclopedia
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 film by David Lean
David Lean
Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

 based on The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle was a French novelist largely known for two famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes .-Biography:...

. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

, Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

, Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins
Colonel John Edward "Jack" Hawkins CBE was an English actor of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.-Career:Hawkins was born at Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green, Middlesex, the son of master builder Thomas George Hawkins and his wife, Phoebe née Goodman. The youngest of four children in a close-knit family,...

 and Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa
was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...

. The film was shot in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 (credited as Ceylon
Dominion of Ceylon
The Dominion of Ceylon, known today as Sri Lanka, was a dominion, in the British Empire between 1948 and 1972. In 1948, British Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. In 1972, the Dominion of Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth, and its name was changed to Sri Lanka...

, as it was known at the time). The bridge itself was located near Kitulgala
Kitulgala
Kitulgala is a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. It is in the wet zone rain forest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month...

.

In 1997, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

.

Plot

After the surrender of Singapore
Battle of Singapore
The Battle of Singapore was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War when the Empire of Japan invaded the Allied stronghold of Singapore. Singapore was the major British military base in Southeast Asia and nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East"...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, a unit of British soldiers are marched to a Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 prison camp
Prisoner-of-war camp
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of combatants captured by their enemy in time of war, and is similar to an internment camp which is used for civilian populations. A prisoner of war is generally a soldier, sailor, or airman who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or...

 in western Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. They are paraded before the camp commandant
Commandant
Commandant is a senior title often given to the officer in charge of a large training establishment or academy. This usage is common in anglophone nations...

, Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Saito (Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa
was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...

), who informs them of his rules; all prisoners, regardless of rank, are to work on the construction of a bridge over the River Kwai
Khwae Yai River
The Khwae Yai River , also known as the Si Sawat , is a river in western Thailand. It flows for about 380 kilometres through Sangkhla Buri, Si Sawat, and Mueang Districts of Kanchanaburi Province, where it merges with the Khwae Noi to form the Mae Klong River at Pak Phraek subdistrict.The famous...

 to carry a new railway line.

Their commander, Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

), reminds Saito that the Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 exempt officers from manual labour, but Saito slaps him hard across the face with his copy of the conventions. At the following morning’s parade, Nicholson orders his officers to remain behind when the enlisted men head off to work. Saito threatens to have them shot, but Nicholson refuses to back down. When Major Clipton (James Donald
James Donald
James Donald was a Scottish actor. Tall and thin, he usually specialised in playing authority figures.Donald was born in Aberdeen, and made his first professional stage appearance sometime in the late-1930s, having been educated at Rossall School on Lancashire's Fylde coast...

), the British medical officer, intervenes, Saito leaves the officers standing all day in the intense tropical heat. That evening, the officers are placed in a punishment hut, while Nicholson is locked in ‘the oven’, an iron box, without food or water.

Clipton attempts to secure Nicholson's release, but Nicholson refuses to compromise. Meanwhile, the prisoners are working as little as possible and sabotaging whatever they can. Saito is concerned because, should he fail to meet his deadline, he would be obliged to commit seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

(ritual suicide). Using the anniversary of Japan's great victory in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 as an excuse to save face
Face (sociological concept)
Face, idiomatically meaning dignity/prestige, is a fundamental concept in the fields of sociology, sociolinguistics, semantics, politeness theory, psychology, political science, communication, and Face Negotiation Theory.-Definitions:...

, he gives in, and Nicholson and his officers are released.

Nicholson conducts an inspection and is shocked by what he finds. Against the protests of some of his officers, he orders Captain
Captain (British Army and Royal Marines)
Captain is a junior officer rank of the British Army and Royal Marines. It ranks above Lieutenant and below Major and has a NATO ranking code of OF-2. The rank is equivalent to a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and to a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force...

 Reeves (Peter Williams) and Major Hughes (John Boxer
John Boxer (British actor)
John Boxer was a British film and television actor.Boxer's television appearances included Emergency – Ward 10, Dixon of Dock Green, The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk , The Onedin Line and The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.-Selected filmography:* There Ain't No Justice * Convoy *...

) to design and build a proper bridge, despite its military value to the Japanese, for the sake of his men's morale. The Japanese engineers had chosen a poor site, so the original construction is abandoned and a new bridge is begun 400 yards downstream.

Meanwhile, three prisoners attempt to escape. Two are shot dead, but United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Commander
Commander (United States)
In the United States, commander is a military rank that is also sometimes used as a military title, depending on the branch of service. It is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the military, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Naval rank:In the United States...

 Shears (William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

), gets away, although badly wounded. After many days, Shears eventually stumbles into a village, whose people help him to escape by a boat.

Shears is enjoying his recovery at the Mount Lavinia Hospital at Ceylon (with a pretty British nurse), when Major Warden (Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins
Colonel John Edward "Jack" Hawkins CBE was an English actor of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.-Career:Hawkins was born at Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green, Middlesex, the son of master builder Thomas George Hawkins and his wife, Phoebe née Goodman. The youngest of four children in a close-knit family,...

) asks him to volunteer for a commando mission to destroy the bridge. Shears is horrified at the idea and reveals that he is not an officer at all. He was an enlisted man on the cruiser USS Houston
USS Houston (CA-30)
USS Houston , nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast", was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy...

. He switched uniforms with the dead Commander Shears after the sinking of their ship to get better treatment. Warden already knows this and has had "Shears" reassigned to British duty. Faced with the prospect of being charged with impersonating an officer, Shears has no choice but to volunteer; Warden gives him the "simulated rank of major".

Meanwhile, Nicholson drives his men, even volunteering to have them work harder to complete the bridge on time. When he asks that their Japanese counterparts join in as well, a resigned Saito replies that he has already given the order.

The commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

s parachute in, although one is killed in a bad landing. The other three—Warden, Shears, and Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 Lieutenant Joyce (Geoffrey Horne
Geoffrey Horne
Geoffrey Horne is an actor, director, and acting coach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His screen credits include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bonjour Tristesse, The Strange One, Two People, The Twilight Zone episode 'The Gift' in 1962, and as Wade Norton in "The Guests" episode...

)—reach the river with the assistance of Siamese women porters and their village chief, Khun Yai. Warden is wounded in an encounter with a Japanese patrol, and has to be carried on a litter. The trio reach the bridge in time and plant explosives underwater under cover of darkness.

A train carrying soldiers and important dignitaries is scheduled to be the first to use the bridge the following morning, so Warden plans to destroy both at the same time. However, the water level drops, exposing the wire connecting the explosives to the detonator. Making a final inspection, Nicholson spots the wire and brings it to Saito's attention. As the train is heard approaching, the two hurry down to the riverbank to investigate. Joyce, hiding with the detonator, breaks cover and stabs Saito to death; Nicholson yells for help, while attempting to stop Joyce from reaching the detonator. Joyce is killed by Japanese fire. Shears swims across the river, but is shot just before he reaches Nicholson.

Recognising the dying Shears, Nicholson exclaims, "What have I done?" Warden fires his mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

, mortally wounding Nicholson. The dazed colonel stumbles towards the detonator and falls on it as he dies, just in time to blow up the bridge and send the train hurtling into the river below.

As he witnesses the carnage, Clipton shakes his head uttering: "Madness!...Madness!"

Cast

  • William Holden
    William Holden
    William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

     as US Navy Commander/Seaman Shears
  • Alec Guinness
    Alec Guinness
    Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

     as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson
  • Jack Hawkins
    Jack Hawkins
    Colonel John Edward "Jack" Hawkins CBE was an English actor of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.-Career:Hawkins was born at Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green, Middlesex, the son of master builder Thomas George Hawkins and his wife, Phoebe née Goodman. The youngest of four children in a close-knit family,...

     as Major Warden
  • Sessue Hayakawa
    Sessue Hayakawa
    was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...

     as Colonel Saito
  • James Donald
    James Donald
    James Donald was a Scottish actor. Tall and thin, he usually specialised in playing authority figures.Donald was born in Aberdeen, and made his first professional stage appearance sometime in the late-1930s, having been educated at Rossall School on Lancashire's Fylde coast...

     as Major Clipton
  • Geoffrey Horne
    Geoffrey Horne
    Geoffrey Horne is an actor, director, and acting coach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His screen credits include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bonjour Tristesse, The Strange One, Two People, The Twilight Zone episode 'The Gift' in 1962, and as Wade Norton in "The Guests" episode...

     as Lieutenant Joyce
  • André Morell
    André Morell
    André Morell was a British actor. He appeared frequently in theatre, film and on television from the 1930s to the 1970s...

     as Colonel Hornsby
  • Peter Williams
    Peter Williams
    Peter Williams is the name of:* Sir Peter Williams , former chairman of Oxford Instruments; Chancellor, University of Leicester* Peter Williams , New Zealand television presenter...

     as Captain Reeves
  • John Boxer
    John Boxer (British actor)
    John Boxer was a British film and television actor.Boxer's television appearances included Emergency – Ward 10, Dixon of Dock Green, The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk , The Onedin Line and The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.-Selected filmography:* There Ain't No Justice * Convoy *...

     as Major Hughes
  • Percy Herbert
    Percy Herbert (actor)
    Percy Herbert was an English character actor who often played soldiers, most notably in The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Geese and Tunes of Glory. However, he was equally at home in comedies and science fiction...

     as Private Grogan
  • Harold Goodwin
    Harold Goodwin (English actor)
    Harold Goodwin was an English actor born in Wombwell, Yorkshire, England.Goodwin trained at RADA and was a stage actor at Liverpool repertory theatre for 3 years...

     as Private Baker
  • Ann Sears as nurse

Historical parallels

The largely fictional film plot is loosely based on the building in 1943 of one of the railway bridges over the Mae Klong
Mae Klong
The Mae Klong is a river in western Thailand. The river begins at the confluence of the Khwae Noi or Khwae Sai Yok and the Khwae Yai River or Khwae Si Sawat in Kanchanaburi, pass Ratchaburi Province and empties into the Gulf of Thailand in Samut Songkhram....

—renamed Khwae Yai
Khwae Yai River
The Khwae Yai River , also known as the Si Sawat , is a river in western Thailand. It flows for about 380 kilometres through Sangkhla Buri, Si Sawat, and Mueang Districts of Kanchanaburi Province, where it merges with the Khwae Noi to form the Mae Klong River at Pak Phraek subdistrict.The famous...

 in the 1960s—at a place called Tha Ma Kham, five kilometres from the Thai
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 town of Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi ) is a town in the west of Thailand and the capital of Kanchanaburi province. In 2006 it had a population of 31,327...

.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

"The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre."


The incidents portrayed in the film are mostly fictional, and though it depicts bad conditions and suffering caused by the building of the Burma Railway and its bridges, historically the conditions were much worse
Slavery in Japan
During most of the history of the country, the practice of slavery in Japan involved only indigenous Japanese, as the export and import of slaves was significantly restricted by isolation of the group of islands from other areas of Asia...

 than depicted. The real senior Allied officer at the bridge was British Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey. Some consider the film to be an insulting parody of Toosey. On a BBC Timewatch
Timewatch
Timewatch is a long-running British television series showing documentaries on historical subjects, spanning all human history. It was first broadcast on 29th September 1982 and is produced by the BBC, the Timewatch brandname is used as a banner title in the UK, but many of the individual...

programme, a former prisoner at the camp states that it is unlikely that a man like the fictional Nicholson could have risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel; and if he had, due to his collaboration
Collaboration
Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, — for example, an intriguing endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing...

 he would have been "quietly eliminated" by the other prisoners. Julie Summers, in her book The Colonel of Tamarkan, writes that Pierre Boulle, who had been a prisoner of war in Thailand, created the fictional Nicholson character as an amalgam of his memories of collaborating French officers. He strongly denied the claim that the book was anti-British, though many involved in the film itself (including Alec Guinness) felt otherwise.

Toosey was very different from Nicholson and was certainly not a collaborator who felt obliged to work with the Japanese. Toosey in fact did as much to delay the building of the bridge as possible. Whereas Nicholson disapproves of acts of sabotage and other deliberate attempts to delay progress, Toosey encouraged this: termites were collected in large numbers to eat the wooden structures, and the concrete was badly mixed.

Some of the characters in the film have the names of real people who were involved in the Burma Railway. Their roles and characters, however, are fictionalized. For example, a Sergeant-Major Risaburo Saito was in real life second in command at the camp. In the film, a Colonel Saito is camp commandant. In reality, Risaburo Saito was respected by his prisoners for being comparatively merciful and fair towards them; Toosey later defended him in his war crimes trial after the war, and the two became friends.

The destruction of the bridge as depicted in the film is entirely fictional. In fact, two bridges were built: a temporary wooden bridge and a permanent steel/concrete bridge a few months later. Both bridges were used for two years, until they were destroyed by Allied aerial bombing. The steel bridge was repaired and is still in use today.

Screenplay

The screenwriters, Carl Foreman
Carl Foreman
Carl Foreman, CBE was an American screenwriter and film producer who wrote the notable film High Noon. He was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses in the 1950s.-Biography:...

 and Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson (writer)
Michael Wilson was an Academy Award winning American screenwriter who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses during the era of McCarthyism....

, were on the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

 and could only work on the film in secret. The two did not collaborate on the script; Wilson took over after Lean was dissatisfied with Foreman's work. The official credit
Credit (creative arts)
In general, the term credit in the artistic or intellectual sense refers to an acknowledgement of those who contributed to a work, whether through ideas or in a more direct sense.-Credit in the arts:...

 was given to Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle was a French novelist largely known for two famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes .-Biography:...

 (who did not speak English), and the resulting Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation) was awarded to him. Only in 1984 did the Academy
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures...

 rectify the situation by retroactively awarding the Oscar to Foreman and Wilson, posthumously in both cases. Subsequent releases of the film finally gave them proper screen credit.

The film was relatively faithful to the novel, with two major exceptions. Shears, who is a British commando officer like Warden in the novel, became an American sailor who escapes from the POW camp. Also, in the novel, the bridge is not destroyed: the train plummets into the river from a secondary charge placed by Warden, but Nicholson (never realizing "what have I done?") does not fall onto the plunger, and the bridge suffers only minor damage. Boulle nonetheless enjoyed the film version though he disagreed with its climax.

Filming

Many directors were considered for the project, among them John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

, William Wyler
William Wyler
William Wyler was a leading American motion picture director, producer, and screenwriter.Notable works included Ben-Hur , The Best Years of Our Lives , and Mrs. Miniver , all of which won Wyler Academy Awards for Best Director, and also won Best Picture...

, Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Howard Winchester Hawks was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era...

, Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann was an Austrian-American film director. He won four Academy Awards and directed films like High Noon, From Here to Eternity and A Man for All Seasons.-Life and career:...

 and Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

.

The film was an international co-production
International co-production
An international co-production is a production where two or more different production companies are working together, for example in a film production...

 between companies in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It is set in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, but was filmed mostly near Kitulgala
Kitulgala
Kitulgala is a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. It is in the wet zone rain forest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month...

, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

), with a few scenes shot in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

Lean clashed with his cast members on multiple occasions, particularly Alec Guinness and James Donald, who thought the novel was anti-British. Lean had a lengthy row with Guinness over how to play the role of Nicholson; Guinness wanted to play the part with a sense of humour and sympathy, while Lean thought Nicholson should be "a bore". On another occasion, Lean and Guinness argued over the scene where Nicholson reflects on his career in the army. Lean filmed the scene from behind Guinness, and exploded in anger when Guinness asked him why he was doing this. After Guinness was done with the scene, Lean said "Now you can all fuck off and go home, you English actors. Thank God that I'm starting work tomorrow with an American actor (William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

)".

Alec Guinness later said that he subconsciously based his walk while emerging from "the Oven" on that of his son Matthew
Matthew Guinness
Matthew Guinness is an English actor. He plays The Farmer in the 1976 film Nuts in May, appears in Ridley Scott's The Duellists and had a small role in 1987's Lady Jane. He has also worked extensively in theatre....

 when he was recovering from polio. He called his walk from the Oven to Saito's hut while being saluted by his men the "finest work I'd ever done".

Lean nearly drowned when he was swept away by a river current during a break from filming; Geoffrey Horne
Geoffrey Horne
Geoffrey Horne is an actor, director, and acting coach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His screen credits include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bonjour Tristesse, The Strange One, Two People, The Twilight Zone episode 'The Gift' in 1962, and as Wade Norton in "The Guests" episode...

 saved his life.

The filming of the bridge explosion was to be done on March 10, 1957, in the presence of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike
Solomon Bandaranaike
Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Sinhala:සොලමන් වෙස්ට් රිජ්වේ ඩයස් බන්ඩාරනායක)(Tamil:சாலமன் வெஸ்ட் ரிச்சர்ட் டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கா)Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Sinhala:සොලමන් වෙස්ට් රිජ්වේ ඩයස් බන්ඩාරනායක)(Tamil:சாலமன் வெஸ்ட் ரிச்சர்ட் டயஸ்...

, then Prime Minister of Ceylon, and a team of government dignitaries. However, cameraman Freddy Ford was unable to get out of the way of the explosion in time, and Lean had to stop filming. The train crashed into a generator on the other side of the bridge and was wrecked. It was repaired in time to be blown up the next morning, with Bandaranaike and his entourage present.

According to the supplemental material in the Blu-ray digipak
Digipak
Digipak is a patented style of CD, DVD or BD packaging, and is a registered trademark of AGI World Ltd., an Atlas Holdings company.-Features:...

, a thousand tons of explosives were used to blow up the bridge. This is highly unlikely, as the film shows roughly 50 kg of plastique being used simply to knock down the bridge's supports.

According to Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies is a movie-oriented cable television channel, owned by the Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Time Warner, featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and MGM, United Artists, RKO and Warner Bros. film libraries...

, the producers nearly suffered a catastrophe following the filming of the bridge explosion. To ensure they captured the one-time event, multiple cameras from several angles were used. Ordinarily, the film would have been taken by boat to London, but due to the Suez crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 this was impossible; therefore the film was taken by air freight. When the shipment failed to arrive in London, a worldwide search was undertaken. To the producers' horror the film containers were found a week later on an airport tarmac in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, sitting in the hot Egyptian sun. Though it was not exposed to sunlight, the heat-sensitive color film stock should have been hopelessly ruined. However, when processed the shots were perfect and appeared in the film.

Music

A memorable feature of the film is the tune that is whistled by the POWs—the first strain of the march "Colonel Bogey"—when they enter the camp. The march was originally written in 1914 by Kenneth J.Alford, a pseudonym of British Bandmaster Frederick J. Ricketts. The Colonel Bogey strain was accompanied by a counter-melody
Counter-melody
In music, counter-melody is a sequence of notes, perceived as a melody, written to be played simultaneously with a more prominent lead melody. Typically a counter-melody performs a subordinate role, and is heard in a texture consisting of a melody plus accompaniment...

 using the same chord progressions, then continued with film composer Malcolm Arnold's own composition "The River Kwai March
The River Kwai March
"The River Kwai March" is a march composed by Malcolm Arnold in 1957. It was written as an orchestral counter-march to the "Colonel Bogey March" whistled by the soldiers entering the prisoner camp in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai...

", played by the off-screen orchestra taking over from the whistlers, though Arnold's march was not heard in completion on the soundtrack. Mitch Miller
Mitch Miller
Mitchell William "Mitch" Miller was an American musician, singer, conductor, record producer, A&R man and record company executive...

 had a hit with a recording of both marches.

Besides serving as an example of British fortitude and dignity in the face of privation, the "Colonel Bogey March" suggested a specific symbol of defiance to British film-goers, as its melody was used for the song Hitler Has Only Got One Ball
Hitler Has Only Got One Ball
"Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" is a song that mocks Nazi leaders using blue comedy in reference to their testicles. Multiple variants of the lyrics exist, generally sung as four-line verses to the tune of the "Colonel Bogey March".-Origin of the song:...

. Lean wanted to introduce Nicholson and his soldiers into the camp singing this song, but Sam Spiegel thought it too vulgar, and so whistling was substituted. However, the lyrics were, and continue to be, so well known to the British public that they didn't need to be belaboured.

The soundtrack of the film is largely diegetic
Diegesis
Diegesis is a style of representation in fiction and is:# the world in which the situations and events narrated occur; and# telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.In diegesis the narrator tells the story...

; background music is not widely used. In many tense, dramatic scenes, only the sounds of nature are used. An example of this is when commandos Warden and Joyce hunt a fleeing Japanese soldier through the jungle, desperate to prevent him from alerting other troops.

Arnold won an Academy Award for the film's score.

Lean later used another Allford march, "The Voice of the Guns
The Voice of the Guns
The Voice of the Guns is a British military march composed by Kenneth Alford during World War I. It was written as a tribute to British artillerymen serving in the war, hence its name, though later became widely adopted by the entire British army...

", in Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia (film)
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely...

.

Box office performance

Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

reported that this film was the #1 moneymaker of 1958, with a US take of $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

18,000,000. The second highest moneymaker of 1958 was Peyton Place
Peyton Place (film)
Peyton Place is a 1957 American drama film directed by Mark Robson. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on the bestselling 1956 novel of the same name by Grace Metalious.-Plot:...

at $12,000,000; in third place was Sayonara
Sayonara
Sayonara is a 1957 color American film starring Marlon Brando. It tells the story of an American Air Force flier who was an "ace" fighter pilot during the Korean War....

at $10,500,000.

Academy Awards

The Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Oscars:
  • Best Picture
    Academy Award for Best Picture
    The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

     — Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel was an Austrian-born American independent film producer.-Life and career:Spiegel was born in Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel to a German-Jewish father and Polish mother and educated at the University of Vienna. His brother was Shalom Spiegel, a professor of...

  • Best Director — David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

  • Best Actor
    Academy Award for Best Actor
    Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

     — Alec Guinness
    Alec Guinness
    Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
    Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
    The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

     — Michael Wilson
    Michael Wilson (writer)
    Michael Wilson was an Academy Award winning American screenwriter who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses during the era of McCarthyism....

    , Carl Foreman
    Carl Foreman
    Carl Foreman, CBE was an American screenwriter and film producer who wrote the notable film High Noon. He was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses in the 1950s.-Biography:...

    , Pierre Boulle
    Pierre Boulle
    Pierre Boulle was a French novelist largely known for two famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes .-Biography:...

  • Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Film
    Academy Award for Original Music Score
    The Academy Award for Original Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.-Superlatives:...

     — Malcolm Arnold
    Malcolm Arnold
    Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold, CBE was an English composer and symphonist.Malcolm Arnold began his career playing trumpet professionally, but by age thirty his life was devoted to composition. He was ranked with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain...

  • Best Film Editing
    Academy Award for Film Editing
    The Academy Award for Film Editing is one of the annual awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nominations for this award are closely correlated with the Academy Award for Best Picture. Since 1981, every film selected as Best Picture has also been nominated for the Film Editing...

     — Peter Taylor
    Peter Taylor (editor)
    For other people named Peter Taylor, see Peter Taylor.Peter Taylor was an English film editor with more than 30 film credits...

  • Best Cinematography
    Academy Award for Best Cinematography
    The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work in one particular motion picture.-History:...

     — Jack Hildyard
    Jack Hildyard
    Jack Hildyard, B.S.C. was a British cinematographer who worked on more than 80 films during his career...


It was nominated for
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
    Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
    Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

     — Sessue Hayakawa
    Sessue Hayakawa
    was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...


BAFTA Awards

Winner of 3 BAFTA Awards
  • Best British Film
    BAFTA Award for Best Film
    This page lists the winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language and Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film for each year, in addition to the retired earlier versions of those awards...

     — David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

    , Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel was an Austrian-born American independent film producer.-Life and career:Spiegel was born in Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel to a German-Jewish father and Polish mother and educated at the University of Vienna. His brother was Shalom Spiegel, a professor of...

  • Best Film from any Source
    BAFTA Award for Best Film
    This page lists the winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language and Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film for each year, in addition to the retired earlier versions of those awards...

     — David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

    , Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel was an Austrian-born American independent film producer.-Life and career:Spiegel was born in Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel to a German-Jewish father and Polish mother and educated at the University of Vienna. His brother was Shalom Spiegel, a professor of...

  • Best British Actor
    BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Best Actor in a Leading Role is a British Academy Film award presented annually by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding leading performance in a film.-Superlatives:...

     — Alec Guinness
    Alec Guinness
    Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...


Golden Globe Awards

Winner of 3 Golden Globes
Golden Globe Award
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign...

  • Best Motion Picture — Drama
    Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama
    This page lists the winners and nominees for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, since its institution in 1951. The organizer, Hollywood Foreign Press Association , is an organization of journalists who cover the United States film industry, but are affiliated with publications...

     — David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

    , Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel
    Sam Spiegel was an Austrian-born American independent film producer.-Life and career:Spiegel was born in Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel to a German-Jewish father and Polish mother and educated at the University of Vienna. His brother was Shalom Spiegel, a professor of...

  • Best Director
    Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture
    This page lists the winners of and nominees for the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Since its inception in 1943, it has been presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization composed of journalists who cover the United States film industry for publications based...

     — David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
    Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
    The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture - Drama was first awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as a separate category in 1951...

     — Alec Guinness
    Alec Guinness
    Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...


Recipient of one nomination
  • Best Supporting Actor
    Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
    The Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture was first awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1944 for a performance in a motion picture released in the previous year....

     — Sessue Hayakawa
    Sessue Hayakawa
    was a Japanese and American Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was the first and one of the few Asian actors to find stardom in the United States as well as Europe. Between the mid-1910s and the late 1920s, he was as well known as actors...


Other awards

  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Film
    New York Film Critics Circle Awards
    New York Film Critics' Circle Awards are given annually to honor excellence in cinema worldwide by an organization of film reviewers from New York City-based publications. It is considered one of the most important precursors to the Academy Awards....

  • Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
    Directors Guild of America
    Directors Guild of America is an entertainment labor union which represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry...

     (David Lean, Assistants: Gus Agosti & Ted Sturgis
    Ted Sturgis
    Ted Sturgis was an American jazz bassist.Sturgis started on piano at age five and played alto saxophone, guitar and drums in addition to bass. He primarily played double-bass, although he played electric bass on some recordings late in life...

    )
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Director
    New York Film Critics Circle Awards
    New York Film Critics' Circle Awards are given annually to honor excellence in cinema worldwide by an organization of film reviewers from New York City-based publications. It is considered one of the most important precursors to the Academy Awards....

     (David Lean)
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Actor
    New York Film Critics Circle Awards
    New York Film Critics' Circle Awards are given annually to honor excellence in cinema worldwide by an organization of film reviewers from New York City-based publications. It is considered one of the most important precursors to the Academy Awards....

     (Alec Guinness)

Other nominations

  • Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album, Dramatic Picture Score or Original Cast
    Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
    The Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media has been awarded since 1960. Until 2001 the award was presented to the composer of the music alone. From 2001 to 2006, the producer and engineers shared in this award...

     (Malcolm Arnold
    Malcolm Arnold
    Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold, CBE was an English composer and symphonist.Malcolm Arnold began his career playing trumpet professionally, but by age thirty his life was devoted to composition. He was ranked with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain...

    )

Recognition

The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

.

British TV channel Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 held a poll to find the 100 Greatest War Movies in 2005. The Bridge on the River Kwai came in at #10, behind Black Hawk Down and in front of The Dam Busters
The Dam Busters (film)
The Dam Busters is a 1955 British Second World War war film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd and directed by Michael Anderson. The film recreates the true story of Operation Chastise when in 1943 the RAF's 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany with Wallis's...

.

The British Film Institute placed The Bridge on the River Kwai as the eleventh greatest British film.

American Film Institute recognition

  • 1998 — AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies
    AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies
    The first of the AFI 100 Years… series of cinematic milestones, AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies is a list of the 100 best American movies, as determined by the American Film Institute from a poll of more than 1,500 artists and leaders in the film industry who chose from a list of 400 nominated movies...

     — #13
  • 2001 — AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills
    AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills
    Part of the AFI 100 Years… series, AFI's 100 Years…100 Thrills is a list of the top 100 heart-pounding movies in American cinema. The list was unveiled by the American Film Institute on June 12, 2001, during a CBS special hosted by Harrison Ford....

     — #58
  • 2006 — AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers
    AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers
    100 Years…100 Cheers: America's Most Inspiring Movies is a list of the most inspiring films as determined by the American Film Institute. It is part of the AFI 100 Years… series, which has been compiling lists of the greatest films of all time in various categories since 1998...

     — #14
  • 2007 — AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) — #36

First telecast

The film was first telecast, uncut, by ABC-TV
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 in color on the evening of September 25, 1966, as a three hours-plus special on The ABC Sunday Night Movie
The ABC Sunday Night Movie
The ABC Sunday Night Movie is a television program that aired on Sunday nights, first for a brief time in 1962 under the title Hollywood Special . It then began airing regularly under its more commonly known title from 1964 to 1998, on ABC...

. The telecast of the film lasted more than three hours because of the commercial breaks. It was still highly unusual at that time for a television network to show such a long film in one evening; most films of that length were still generally split into two parts and shown over two evenings. But the unusual move paid off for ABC—the telecast drew huge ratings. On the evenings of January 28 and 29, 1973, ABC telecast another David Lean color spectacular, Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia (film)
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely...

, but that telecast was split into two parts over two evenings.

Restorations

On November 2, 2010, Columbia Pictures released a newly restored The Bridge on the River Kwai for the first time on Blu-ray. According to Columbia Pictures, they followed an all-new 4K digital restoration from the original negative with newly restored 5.1 audio. The Original Negative for the feature was scanned at 4k (roughly four times the amount of resolution in High Definition), and the color correction and digital restoration were also completed at 4k. The negative itself manifested many of the kinds of issues one would expect from a film of this vintage: torn frames, imbedded emulsion dirt, scratches through every reel, color fading. Unique to this film, in some ways, were other issues related to poorly made optical dissolves, the original camera lens and a malfunctioning camera. These problems resulted in a number of anomalies that were very difficult to correct, like a ghosting effect in many scenes that resembles color mis-registration, and a tick-like effect with the image jumping or jerking side-to-side. These issues, running throughout the film, were addressed to a lesser extent on various previous DVD releases of the film and might not have been so obvious in standard definition.

Parodies

  • In 1962 Spike Milligan
    Spike Milligan
    Terence Alan Patrick Seán "Spike" Milligan Hon. KBE was a comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor. His early life was spent in India, where he was born, but the majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. He became an Irish citizen in 1962 after the...

     and Peter Sellers
    Peter Sellers
    Richard Henry Sellers, CBE , known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian and actor. Perhaps best known as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series, he is also notable for playing three different characters in Dr...

    , with Peter Cook
    Peter Cook
    Peter Edward Cook was an English satirist, writer and comedian. An extremely influential figure in modern British comedy, he is regarded as the leading light of the British satire boom of the 1960s. He has been described by Stephen Fry as "the funniest man who ever drew breath," although Cook's...

     and Jonathan Miller
    Jonathan Miller
    Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller CBE is a British theatre and opera director, author, physician, television presenter, humorist and sculptor. Trained as a physician in the late 1950s, he first came to prominence in the 1960s with his role in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with fellow writers and...

     released the LP record
    LP album
    The LP, or long-playing microgroove record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog sound storage medium. Introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry...

     Bridge On The River Wye
    River Wye
    The River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the UK and for parts of its length forms part of the border between England and Wales. It is important for nature conservation and recreation.-Description:...

    (Parlophone LP PMC 1190,PCS 3036 (November 1962)). This spoof of the film was based on the script for the 1957 Goon Show episode "An African Incident". Shortly before its release, for legal reasons, producer George Martin
    George Martin
    Sir George Henry Martin CBE is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"— a title that he often describes as "nonsense," but the fact remains that he served as producer on all but one of The Beatles' original albums...

     edited out the 'K' every time the word 'Kwai' was spoken.

  • The comedy team of Wayne and Shuster
    Wayne and Shuster
    Wayne and Shuster were a Canadian comedy duo formed by Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster. They were active professionally from the early 1940s until the late 1980s....

     performed a sketch titled "Kwai Me a River" on their March 27, 1967 TV show, in which an officer in the British Dental Corps is captured by the Japanese and forced to build the commander of the POW camp a (dental) 'bridge on the river Kwai'.

  • The 1985 film Volunteers
    Volunteers (film)
    Volunteers is a 1985 comedy directed by Nicholas Meyer and starring Tom Hanks and John Candy.-Plot:Lawrence Bourne III is a spoiled rich kid with a large gambling debt in the 1960s. After his father, Lawrence Bourne Jr...

    , featuring Tom Hanks
    Tom Hanks
    Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks is an American actor, producer, writer, and director. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies, gaining wide notice in 1988's Big, before achieving success as a dramatic actor in several notable roles, including Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia, the title...

     and John Candy
    John Candy
    John Franklin Candy was a Canadian actor and comedian. He rose to fame as a member of the Toronto branch of The Second City and its related Second City Television series, and through his appearances in comedy films such as Stripes, Splash, Cool Runnings, The Great Outdoors, Spaceballs, and Uncle...

    , was a spoof of this film.

See also

  • BFI Top 100 British films
    BFI Top 100 British films
    In 1999 the British Film Institute surveyed 1000 people from the world of British film and television to produce the BFI 100 list of the greatest British films of the 20th century. Voters were asked to choose up to 100 films that were 'culturally British'...

  • List of historical drama films
  • List of historical drama films of Asia
  • To End All Wars
    To End All Wars
    To End All Wars is a 2001 war film starring Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland and Sakae Kimura and directed by David L. Cunningham.- Storyline :...

    (film)

External links

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