Sunday, September 26, 2010

1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai

It's 1943.  Colonel Nicholson and his men are in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in Burma.  They are expected to build a bridge, and after some clashes with Colonel Saito (the Japanese officer in charge of the camp), Nicholson decides that they are going to do a really good job.  He wants this bridge to be something his men can be proud of, and something that will be a tribute to the British Army, ignoring the fact that it will be used to help the enemy.  Meanwhile an American named Shears, who has managed to escape from the camp, is asked to return with a small party to blow up the bridge.

This film is spectacular.  The story is fascinating, the character development is superb, the performances are fabulous, the shots are framed beautifully; it's just amazing.  Alec Guinness never ceases to amaze me, and his portrayal of Nicholson won him a much deserved Academy Award.  The movie's kind of on the long side, but it's never dull.  I also love that, while it's about World War II, it's fundamentally about different kinds of people and how they react to desperate situations.  Nicholson, Shears, and Saito all have different ideas of what it means to be a soldier and follow one's duty.  They demonstrate three sides of a dilemma that many people, soldiers and civilians alike, have to face.  All the characters are believable, which is extremely important in a great film.  It's a good, effective, powerful movie: just what a Best Picture should be.  I also noticed that the Japanese soldiers appeared to be played by Japanese actors, which was refreshing after the last film I watched.  Anyway, The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic, and it's one of those classics that I think everyone can appreciate.

Coming up next: Gigi

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