Write descriptive essay about The Bridge on the River Kwai movie 1957, write an essay of at least 500 words on The Bridge on the River Kwai, 5 paragraph essay on The Bridge on the River Kwai, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Year:
1957
Country:
USA, UK
Genre:
Drama, Adventure, War
IMDB rating:
8.3
Director:
David Lean
William Holden as Shears
Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson
Jack Hawkins as Major Warden
Sessue Hayakawa as Colonel Saito
James Donald as Major Clipton
Geoffrey Horne as Lieutenant Joyce
André Morell as Colonel Green (as Andre Morell)
Peter Williams as Captain Reeves
John Boxer as Major Hughes
Percy Herbert as Grogan
Ann Sears as Nurse
Heihachiro Okawa as Captain Kanematsu (as Henry Okawa)
Keiichirô Katsumoto as Lieutenant Miura (as K. Katsumoto)
Storyline: The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito. He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy. Unknown to him, the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle, led by Warden and an American, Shears, to blow up the bridge.
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Reviews
Nice bridge,Colonel,but there is a war on you know.......
I saw this at the cinema as a 17 year - old and was most impressed by the sheer size and sweep of the film - a characteristic,I later learned of most David Lean productions.Mr A.Guiness represented the bulldog spirit and unquestionable integrity of the British officer - class and the various jolly cockney,witty scouses,dour northeners in the ranks were typical of the portrayals of rank and file soldiery we had come to expect in just over a decade of obsession with the role of the armed forces in the second world war. Mr S.Hayakawa was eminently hissable as the evil Oriental who was eventually outwitted by our brave and stubborn Col.Nicholson. Nearly sixty years and many viewings later I have come to realise that "Bridge on the River Kwai is still a hugely impressive film and Mr A.Guiness is even better than I first thought,but that my reading of the film was all wrong. Mr Lean has in fact borrowed deeply from Joseph Conrads"Heart of darkness"with a plot about a rogue officer with his own agenda running what is virtually his own private army in cahoots with the enemy to the extent that an assassin is sent on a mission to kill him. Col.Nicholson,in short,is as mad as a sack of weasels and his obsession with building the eponymous bridge,rather than giving his chaps something to do and improve their conditions,is considerably aiding the Japanese Imperial Forces and the movement of their troops. The last third of the film detailing the efforts of Mr J.Hawkins and Mr W.Holden to destroy the bridge is amongst Mr Leans's best work,taut, with beautifully conceived editing,and a wonderfully managed climax where Nicholson finally realises the blind alley his obsession has led him into. "What have I done?"he asks as the first train is about to cross the bridge and he stumbles around on the sand seeing the explosives set by Mr Hawkin's commandos exposed by low tide. In "Heart of darkness",Kurtz's last words are "The horror,the horror". As the bridge finally blows up, Mr J.Donald mutters "Madness,madness",which isn't too far removed from that. With the possible exception of "Lawrence of Arabia"(maybe just a little self - indulgent)Mr Lean never again made a film so near to perfection that was so ambiguous and no character that was so complex. Undoubtedly one of the best "British" movies ever made.
2015-02-28
Madness
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a World War II film. One of those big movie war epics. But epic though it may be this film is not about the massive global conflict. This is a small story, a story really of two men and their war of wills. The fact that these two men are each in their own way quite mad makes for a fascinating story. It's a story with great moments of triumph and bitter moments of despair. It's a story of great bravery in the face of unspeakable brutality. But really, at its heart, it's a story of madness.

The story unfolds in a Japanese prison camp in the jungles of Thailand. A large unit of British prisoners proudly and defiantly whistle a famous march as they are brought into the camp. They have no idea what they're in for. Perhaps some of them noticed the graves being dug as they were marched in. That should serve as a hint. This camp is an impossibly terrible place, led by a brutal, seemingly sadistic man in the camp commandant Colonel Saito. The strong-willed Saito will meet his match in the British commanding officer Colonel Nicholson, a man who lives by rules and stands on principle. But Nicholson will immediately find that in this camp there are no rules and there certainly don't seem to be much in the way of principles either. Saito has a job for his new British prisoners. They are to build a bridge over the River Kwai. And the British officers will be forced to perform manual labor alongside their men. Nicholson cannot abide the officers being put to work, it's against the rules. Where does standing up for the rules get Nicholson? Locked inside a small iron box that's where.

And so the war of wills begins. Saito has a bridge to be built and he has a deadline. He will complete this bridge by any means necessary because if he fails he will have no choice but to kill himself. Madness. Meanwhile Nicholson stands on principle which only leads to torture and a seemingly inevitable death for himself and his officers. Madness. From a certain perspective it can be said that Nicholson shows great bravery. But to what end? In playing this brave, principled, somewhat deranged man Alec Guinness turns in an astonishing performance. There is little doubt Guinness is the best thing the film has to offer. And he has a worthy foil in Sessue Hayakawa who plays Saito. Two great actors portraying two stubborn men who are too set in their ways to change. And their stubbornness can only have dire consequences.

The story of the camp and the building of the bridge is fascinating, dramatic and highly charged. Unfortunately there is a parallel storyline which does not work nearly as well. William Holden plays Shears, an American who escapes from the camp early on in the film. As he recovers he clearly enjoys his newfound freedom as he waits to be shipped back home. He's living the good life, including partaking in a romantic dalliance which seems to serve no purpose other than to shoehorn a female character into the film someplace. But Shears, much to his consternation, finds that he's not going home. He's going back to the prison camp along with a team of British commandos who are going to blow up the bridge.

Holden's performance is perfectly fine, as are those of the other actors in this section of the film, but the story of the attempt to blow up the bridge doesn't engage the way the story of the bridge's building does. Time spent away from Nicholson and Saito, Guinness and Hayakawa, is for this movie time not well spent. By this point in the movie we're utterly fascinated with Nicholson and the rather bizarre pride he takes in his men's efforts to build the bridge. His bridge. It's not Saito's bridge anymore which causes the Japanese commander no small sense of shame. The story of Nicholson and Saito, Nicholson mostly, is incredibly compelling. And Guinness is so perfect in his portrayal of this brave but mad man that you really miss his presence when the film veers away from its main storyline to follow the trek of the commando team through the jungle. But at least you know something quite spectacular is bound to occur when the two threads of the plot come together. Madness indeed.
2011-04-23
An insult
Thousands of prisoners died building the Burma Railway and their memory deserves better than this. They were not sheep and did what they could to resist the Japanese. Former POWs have said that the fictional Nicholson would have been quietly eliminated, even if he had reached the unlikely rank of Lt-Colonel. The real officer in charge, Philip Toosey, was a hero and this film insults his memory. You cannot make a great film by telling a monstrous lie. Sadly many people only learn history from films and so each generation that sees it is misled. All TV companies should do the honourable thing and never show this film, or perhaps insert statements at various points to point out its injustices and multiple inaccuracies.
2006-02-28
one of the quintessential POW/WW2 movies, with unforgettable characterizations
What does it mean to be a solider versus a prisoner? How about the meaning of a Colonel's duty, pride, and everything in a male-centric view in times of war? And really, what everything seems to come down to- in the case of The Bridge on the River Kwai- is that priorities end up being eschewed with moral ambiguity and heroism in the oddest circumstances. David's Lean's masterpiece takes a compelling look at men who wont give in, and when they do they somehow lose a piece of themselves in the process- a big part really depending on point of view &/or country- and how being ultra-tough and stubborn and headstrong may get you killed for the wrong reasons. Colonel Nicholson (Sir Alec Guiness in a very well deserved Oscar winning turn) and Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa, who is actually a really great actor as well) both don't want to give in when Nicholson arrives at Saito's camp, and refuses adamantly to work alongside the fellow soldiers on the bridge- he sees it's against the Geneva conventions, and makes it a point of principle not to do it. He's put away for a while, but then finally Saito can't take the stubbornness any more- as he knows he's been evenly matched perhaps- and has no choice (ala seppuku if not achieved) but to let him direct the building of the bridge. But what this turns into for Nicholson, as a further elongation of the principle of the matter for his men and the situation, into a really mad situation.

So in this there is also the other main section of the story, where the idea of what it is to have principles starts to pick up via 'Major' Shears (William Holden, the conventional 'star' who grows more interesting in the second half). He's not really a major, but he's done in a quasi-cowardly quasi-pragmatic move to take a major's place when taken prisoner in the camp. When he achieves escape, however, he's caught between a rock and a hard place when he has to go with Major Warden (also a headstrong, 'war is a game' character played by Jack Hawkins), otherwise he'll be dishonorably discharged as an impersonator, already with a criminal record. There's a pivotal scene when he and Warden are on their way to the bridge, which undercuts the whole bond between Nicholson and Saito, when Warden wants to be left for dead after injuring his foot. Does it make more sense to hold one's own sense of duty to a mission, or to one's self, or not? What becomes Shears's gain- a sense of obligation as opposed to being a 'have no choice' scenario- becomes Nicholson's loss. The bridge to Nicholson becomes something abstracted from what is really going on, and his original ideal of not giving in to being a prisoner becomes muddled, leading up to that incredibly tense, maddening climax where his final words punctuate it all: "what have I done?"

But it's not all completely a serious endeavor, and what's so brilliant about Lean's approach to Boulle's material is that it's also a grand old entertainment, where the characters are rich and fully engrossing (albeit with Shears's/Holden given an obligatory "I'm the star" scene with a blond on a beach that seems from a different movie), and with a scope and direction that is just as ambitious in its own right as Lawrence of Arabia. Lean occasionally lets some visual metaphors in that do work very well (the huge flock of birds flying around, and the bridge itself being a metaphor in itself of colonial interests). But for the most part he lets the atmosphere of a war-time adventure work by itself, with the cinematography and editing sometimes working in ultra-suspenseful ways (particularly with the setting up of the wires around the bridge, and 'go time'), and in a traditional way of solid storytelling. He lets the themes work through the characters, which gives the actors a lot more to work with than with pushing it down the viewer's throat. There's a sense that the boundaries of the typical POW/war movie, particularly from a British viewpoint, are stretched and expanded, questioning the means of the main characters while still showing them, in spurts, to have great merit.

And if for nothing else, the acting's really what stands out, especially in the subtle notes and turns that seem over-the-top like with Hayakawa but are really nuanced too (he, especially, has a crux to deal with in suddenly losing his own sense of duty to country as a Brit takes over his job essentially). Guiness, meanwhile, gives something extraordinary in practically every scene, when he's either reserved or having to finally break down and show emotion (it's not the first bridge he's over-seen, hence the extra amount of pride that it'll be a "British-built" bridge). As Shears notes, there's something dangerous to a man like Nicholson who wont give in, and Guiness undercuts this dangerous quality with the elegance that he's perfect at, and then lets it become full-circle when he meets his all-too-ironic end. Holden, by the way, is also quite good here, if sort of given the almost thankless role of the star who's typically cocky, and only when finally on the mission is there some opening up in relation to Hawkins's Warden; his speech to Warden is especially engrossing.

Featuring the catchiest of all whistling in the movies, and a dynamite cast and graceful and distinctively superlative directorial vision, this is one of those rare films about war where character takes precedence over action (compared to the common war movies of the period, it's only sporadic and more suggestive in the violence), not to mention in big-budget splendor, and ends up truly memorable.
2007-01-27
Wanted it to end 10 minutes into the film
This is a film about a group of British prisoners of war that must build a bridge over the river Kwai. The commanding British officer decides to build a better bridge along with the Americans wants to blow up the bridge. For me the film story never started, and I feel the film should have been at least an hour or more shorter. The speed is really slow all the time, spending a lot of times on scenes that gives nothing to the story or me as a viewer. All of the night scenes screams of being day-for- night, and with the film stock chosen with a big contrast it doesn't work. Also the music several times seems misplaced and all of the gunfights are really bad. I know this film is almost 60 years old, but as a viewer in 2016 it just doesn't work anymore.
2016-02-26
An Intimate Epic
"The Bridge on the River Kwai" is neither an anti-war, nor a pro-war (if there is such a thing) film. I'm not really sure just what such designations actually mean. "Bridge ..." is richer and more personal than a simple depiction of epic events. In "Bridge ...", the epic supports the intimate. If you miss this, you miss a lot. "Bridge ..." is about the human heart first, and war second.

After 47 years, it remains a powerful illustration of our failed hopes as human beings. (something sorely lacking in the more technically pre-occupied action films of today.) Oddly, it's an able companion to the less cinematic "A Streetcar Named Desire", or "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" -- full of irony -- brilliant, subtle, and ultimately believable because we've all, in one way or another, experienced the feelings and the fears of the principals.

You can't miss, entirely, this interpretation if you watch the film carefully, and open your senses to the quieter moments: Saito weeping alone having lost the battle of wills, or sending a letter home (Even a brutal camp warden can do that -- nation, race, codes of honor notwithstanding); Saito's confession to Nicholson that he had wanted to be an artist but that his father thought he "belonged in the army"; the scene on the completed bridge, which Saito begins, looking at the sunset and quietly declaring - "beautiful!", with a detached Nicholson attributing the observation to the bridge (his obsession); Nicholson, in turn, speaking of his thoughtful realization that he is "nearer the end than the beginning", and wondering, aloud, what the sum total of his life has meant "to anyone or anything". . . Rescued by the bridge, Nicholson, at last, has something of value to leave behind.

. . . Neither, are the supporting characters free of the ironies of our existence. Shears yearns for a world in which there's no place for war, but who's final act is the ultimate act of war -- killing the enemy close-up, with a knife, and ending his own life in the same cause as did the prisoner he buried, and who's name he could not recall. Joyce, the recruit, who's pre-war occupation consisted of checking and re-checking columns of figures, wants the challenge of "thinking". The denouement of his aspiration nearly costs Warden his life and, ultimately, costs him his own.

The climactic irony (Shakespearian to be sure) comes with Nicholson's realization that he has been living in "his own" and not "the world's" reality. A "friendly fire" mortar round, exploded behind him, shakes him back to "the way things are". . . "What have I done?", he asks before he falls on the plunger that will explode his own -- his only -- "beautiful creation" (ironically, again, his enemy's confirmation).

We all strive to create, or just contribute to, a world in which our dreams can flourish. This includes the powerful, who approve the wars, and the powerless, who fight them. But, often, we find the realities of that world make the dreams of our part in it impossible to realize: The "madness" which, above the carnage, Clipton desperately verbalizes.

"The Bridge on the River Kwai" is a true classic because it can be so many things to so many people -- and it is timeless: The kids and many adults will enjoy the action, the historians will enjoy critiquing its accuracy, veterans will re-visit the comradeship of the "trenches", and film buffs will revel in the picture's rhythm, drama, and well-executed technical elements.

In the final analysis, the settings, costumes, historicity, etc. are only "helpers" (however beautifully provided by Lean and company). Its bigger theme -- the aspirations of the human heart, and the painful surrendering of those aspirations -- are what we are most urgently invited to experience in this extraordinary film. 10 out of 10.
2005-06-29
fraud in movies
I have seen this movie in 1958, and now I have seen it again after 53 years, and I have liked it the same as before. the only thing I was disgusted was the party they made after the bridge is finished, I found this ridiculous for soldiers, I say this because I serve for 7 years in the Legion, and we never will do this sort of ridiculous fiesta. the real history is nothing to do with the movie. of course I understand the producers that looks very much for the money, instead of the reallity, and I disagree totally with this matter, I prefer movies made accordingly with the true history, and the Hollywood movies they are plenty of this fiction movies, but not reality and you become very disappointed when you take acquaintance of the real history.
2011-03-08
So Historically Incorrect It's Distasteful
Bridge On the River Kwai is historically inaccurate to the point of absolute disgust. At no point did American, British and Austrailian prisioners of war work idly with their Japanese captors. Instead, they fought the building of the bridge and miles of railway by using termite infested woods and inferior iron - anything to prevent the line from working to transport Japanese soldiers throughout the region. Hundreds on Allied soldiers died along this rail line and this travesty of a movie only mocks their sacrifice.
2002-04-17
Good film, but a travesty of history
I am normally an admirer of David Lean. But it is difficult to understand why he chose to base this film on a real event at the River Kwai, as it grossly misrepresents the real "Colonel Nicholson" and caused considerable distress to both him and the River Kwai veterans.

The Colonel Nicholson character is based on the allied camp commander, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, who was a remarkable officer by any standards.

Awarded the DSO for heroism during the defence of Singapore, he refused an order to join the evacuation so he could remain with his men during captivity. In the hellish conditions of the camp, he worked courageously to ensure that as many of his men as possible would survive. He endured regular beatings when he complained of ill-treatment of prisoners, but as a skilled negotiator he was able to win many concessions from the Japanese by convincing them that this would speed the completion of the work. Behind their backs, however, he did everything possible to delay and sabotage the construction without endangering his men, and also helped organise a daring escape, at considerable cost to himself. For his conduct in the camp, he won the undying respect of his men.

After the war, he showed great generosity of spirit by saving the life of Colonel Saito, second in command at the camp and a relatively decent officer, when he spoke up for him at the war crimes tribunal. He worked for the veterans all his life, and became President of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War.

He refused repeated requests by the veterans to speak out against the film, being much too modest to seek any glory or recognition for himself. However you will find his achievements documented in a book by Professor Peter Davies entitled "The Man Behind the Bridge".

Toosey hoped that no one watching the film would believe a British Army officer could be so stupid in real life. But with the film being rated on this site as one of the top 50 movies of all time, this hope may have been misplaced. Enjoy the film by all means as a work of fiction, but it is surely important to set the record straight and recognise the heroism of the real man involved.
2002-06-29
Madness...Madness
Bridge on the River Kwai, is a very Intriguing movie centering around a man who refuses to compromise his principles regardless of the situation surrounding him, and the conflict that is caused when his principles become contrary to one another. I enjoyed this movie very much, but would like to have seen Alec Guinness receive a little more of the screen time. The music is also very memorable. I'm sure there are many people who are familiar with the "Colonel Bogey March" who have never even seen the film! The last line of the film sums it up nicely, not just in reference to the main characters but the situation and war in general. 8 out of ten.
2001-07-29
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