The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai



Critic Consensus: This complex war epic asks hard questions, resists easy answers, and boasts career-defining work from star Alec Guinness and director David Lean.

The Bridge on the River Kwai Videos & Photos

Movie Info

One of the all-time great war movies opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito and British colonel Nicholson. Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, but Nicholson refuses.

Rating: PG (N/A)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Calder Willingham, Michael Henry Wilson, Michael Wilson, Carl Foreman, Pierre Boulle
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 21, 2000
Columbia Pictures


as Col. Nicholson

as Col. Saito

as Maj. Warden

as Maj. Clipton

as Lt. Joyce

as Capt. Reeves

as Maj. Hughes

as Grogan

as Nurse

as Capt. Kanematsu

as Lt. Miura

as Siamese Girl

as Siamese Girl

as Siamese Girl

as Col. Green
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Bridge on the River Kwai

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (11)

It is a stirring drama of World War II, in which Spiegel has had the excellent help of British director David Lean, in charge of the action, and of a fine company of international players.

Full Review… | February 23, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Has no one else found it highly peculiar that damn near everybody's choice for the best movie of (let's say) the decade should be dedicated, inferentially but absolutely, to the proposition that Courage is Madness and Cowardice is Best?

Full Review… | February 3, 2014
Village Voice
Top Critic

Part of the success of The Bridge is that its courageous hero is shown from all angles, in all kinds of mirrors. He is strong, stubborn, fallible, maniacal, silly, and wise; and in the end he is pathetic, noble, and foolish.

Full Review… | January 23, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

From sky to ground in two shots, and it already feels like we've traversed a great distance, with two and a half hours of skillful, suspenseful WWII adventure to go.

Full Review… | September 22, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

It is a whale of a story, and in the telling of it, British Director David Lean does a whale of a job.

Full Review… | February 18, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A gripping drama, expertly put together and handled with skill in all departments.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Bridge on the River Kwai

A battalion of British POWs are forced to build a bridge while an American soldier is charged with blowing it up.
Exquisitely plotted, this film is remarkably compelling from beginning to end. At almost three hours, the film's run time is typical of David Lean, who doesn't care how long a film is; he cares how long it's good. The performance by Alec Guinness is the strongest, as he's able to convey his character's journey subtly, and William Holden is as charmingly surly as William Holden has always been.
The film's themes of ambition and the need for purpose come through, and the cinematography is beautiful.
Overall, this film is a classic for good reason.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Powerful film about an aspect of WWII not many people learn about any more. Excellent performances all around, but particularly striking performance from the idealistic martinet Guinness.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a near flawless war drama based on the fiction book by French author Pierre Boulle. I thought that this was a great film, but it wasn't as flawless as many critics have said it was. I found myself enjoying the film, but at times I felt that the film could have been a lot more authentic and showed what life was really like in the POW camps. Directed by director David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai is a well made film that does have great performances, but is not without its flaws. Alec Guinness is wonderful as the insane Col. Nicholson and the movie displays his downward spiral into madness, and he delivers in his role. The plot itself is wonderful, and has something to offer classic war film fans. Like I said, this is not a perfect film, and it could have been better in some areas. David Lean would go on to direct Lawrence of Arabia, a far more superior drama and it would be a much grander picture in scope and execution. This is nonetheless a great film, but compared to The Great Escape, and Lawrence of Arabia, it really isn't as strong due to its portrayal of the lead characters being in league with the Japanese, and that's something that disturbed me. This is a brilliant film and it is a must see classic for fans of old War drama films. Like I said, the film is not perfect, but is a necessary film to watch if you're a fan of cinema. Alec Guinness is great, and he plays the character in such a way that you don't know whether to like him or not, which is a nice touch. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a flawed, but very good film, and if you've enjoyed this film or not, you definitely should check out David Lean's other war drama, Lawrence of Arabia, which is filmmaking at its finest. If you love David Lean's work, then give this one a shot, one of the classic war films that have had a profound impact on the genre for years to come.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

The Bridge on the River Kwai Quotes

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