The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - Rotten Tomatoes

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 Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Winner of seven Academy Awards including "Best Picture," this psychologically complex, cinematically stunning epic is set in WWII Burma. Captured by the Japanese, a British officer initially refuses his captors' orders then becomes obsessed with building them a strategically important bridge. Meanwhile, a commando team sets out to destroy it.more
Rating: PG (N/A)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Calder Willingham, Michael Henry Wilson, Michael Henry Wilson, Michael Wilson, Carl Foreman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 21, 2000
Columbia Pictures


Alec Guinness
as Col. Nicholson
Sessue Hayakawa
as Col. Saito
Jack Hawkins
as Maj. Warden
James Donald
as Maj. Clipton
Geoffrey Horne
as Lt. Joyce
Peter Williams
as Capt. Reeves
John Boxer
as Maj. Hughes
Ann Sears
as Nurse
Henry Okawa
as Capt. Kanematsu
K. Katsumoto
as Lt. Miura
Ngamta Suphaphongs
as Siamese Girl
Javanart Punynchoti
as Siamese Girl
Kannikar Wowklee
as Siamese Girl
André Morell
as Col. Green
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Bridge on the River Kwai

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

An excellent war movie focused on characters rather than on battles, with an intense Oscar-winning performance by Alec Guinness. The cinematography is not flawless, with some scenes visibly filmed during the day and darkened to appear as night, but this is compensated by a suspenseful climax that is unforgettable.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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 Quotes

– Submitted by Mark E (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Bridge on the River Kwai on our Movie forum!