The Bridge on the River Kwai - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Bridge on the River Kwai Reviews

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July 27, 2015
There's just NO WAY this deserved the Oscar over 12 Angry Men that year.
July 27, 2015
Far from David Lean's best work, The Bridge on the River Kwai is an entertaining and complex war epic that failed to reach the potential it was meant to have
½ July 14, 2015
An all-time classic from David Lean, this was only my 2nd time watching it. Really well made and entertaining. Guinness and Holden are great. This film is a must watch!
½ July 12, 2015
A wonderful war movie about prisoners of war rather than the actual fighting which is a refreshing tale to see in a movie. Alec Guinness, Willem Holden, and Sessue Hayakawa are all great as is David Lean, the master of directing epic films. Beautiful cinematography, great score, great costumes, and sound design
½ June 26, 2015
A powerful war drama that explores the undercurrents of liberal motivations, with groundbreaking special effects and suspense that still holds up today, and masterfully executed cinematography, lighting, foreshadowing, and performances. A de servant classic.
June 17, 2015
A fine well-made war film with some top notch performances.
½ June 14, 2015
Set aside the historical inaccuracies, The Bridge on the River Kwai is a movie about stubbornness and obsession. Alec Guiness is great.
June 6, 2015
Mistaken Alec Guiness as David Niven. Ben Obi-wen before Star Wars. Good acting.
May 29, 2015
one of my 22 top films
April 18, 2015
i'd rather watch a documentary on sewer employees
April 16, 2015
Excellent movie. Great production with a real size made-for-the-movie bridge. I enjoyed Sir Alec Guinness' acting as well as the jungle scenes. The blow up final scene is real which makes it more interesting.
April 16, 2015
The movie is fun, the script is great, and I enjoyed every actors performance. I liked how all the British prisoners were charmingly stubborn, and they even made the enemy somewhat sympathetic which doesn't happen very often in old war films.

Unfortunately, I didn't like this as a war film. I watch movies like this for many of the reasons religious people watch religious movies. They watch them to be inspired, and to see an example of a truly pious and virtuous man. The type of man all religious people wish they could be but very few are. A role modal that is "close to God." Typically, they also get examples of how to be a proper sinner and shameful. Both archetypes act as guides for the viewers own journey of self-discovery, self-improvement and self-empowerment.

The most meaningful reason I watch war movies is to be inspired. To see an example of a man with a strong character, strong principles, and is virtuous and dignified in times of war. Most men in old war movies are presented as so heroic and courageous; it's something I can never fully be, but something I can always strive for. It teaches you how to be a "real man," a term that's a misnomer because all men are real, but when I see old war movies calling them real men because of their nobility just seems right. It's more a badge of honor than a literal definition.

My problem with The Bridge On The River Kwai is the men are honorable in a very pro-British way, but in times of war the rules of life change and so should attitudes. Many events and ideas in the film contradict everything I've learn from other war movies. I can respect the men, but not as men in a war. If this was anything but a war movie I would have more appreciation for the movies British-centric sensibilities. I'm still giving the movie 5 stars, though. If it was intended to be a training video for real soldiers I'd give it a thumbs down.
April 6, 2015
Starring Alec Guinness, William Holden and Sessue Hayakawa. Deliberately paced, tremendously rewarding and ultimately enigmatic war film. The audience is never sure if the film is pro- or anti-war, and that only adds to the picture's appeal. Guinness stars as a British general at a Japanese POW camp who becomes obsessed with constructing a bridge for his captors, as the allies plot to destroy the very same bridge. I've seen the film twice now, and I'm still not sure if Guinness is a hero or a fool. A must-see. Directed by David Lean.
April 5, 2015
You see how amazing David Lean is by using his camera to tell the long and tight story of The Bridge on the River Kwai. You can so much inspiration for life throughout the movie and in real life, there is always indeed the unexpected. You also see conundrums which different characters were facing. They were forced to make decisions right on the spot then deal with the consequences later on. There is so much brilliance in it simply in every aspect. Brilliant acting as well of course.
March 6, 2015
Classic boys own story
February 27, 2015
excellent story, cast, Sessue Hayakawa, Alec Guiness, script are superlative
½ February 5, 2015
Why I waste my time watching all of the newest films that come out when there are plenty of tried-and-true classics waiting to be discovered is something I'll never completely understand. It's not even like I have the excuse that I don't know about them, or even don't have the time (because I do). Still, I do like the feeling of seeing something for the first time and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI delivered everything I expected and more. The story is set during WWII and is about a group of British POWs who arrive at a Japanese labor camp in the Burmese jungle (modern-day Myanmar). They are tasked with building a bridge over the Kwai River, but initially have difficulty because the camp's commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) has a clash of wills with their own commander, Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness). There is also an American POW, Shears (William Holden) who manages to escape but is "recruited" to lead a team back to the jungle to blow up the bridge.

If there's one thing that David Lean knows how to do, it's craft an epic film and that's exactly what he did here. It did drag a little bit for me in the first hour, but it was an engrossing watch after that point. It almost goes without saying that this film is perfect from a technical standpoint, and some truly great images were captured. The acting was also just as good, especially from the three key players: Alec Guiness, Sessue Hayakawa, and William Holden. Each of them brought their A-game and turned in probably the best performances of their entire careers. One aspect of the story I really liked was the psychological battle of wills that occurs between Saito and Nicholson. Both of them were equal in rank, but also similar in their approach to their own specific situations. One might say that they were cut from the same cloth. William Holden rounds out this trio of characters by portraying a man who is drafted for a difficult task in spite of his desire to just keep on surviving, and in a cruel turn of irony, puts him at cross-purposes with Nicholson who feels like he is doing good work by building the bridge.

Although the film plays it rather close to the vest in terms of message-making, only really making its statement in the final minutes, I thought that it handled the subject of war in a rather balanced and mature way despite taking a stand against it. Nobody is turned into a villain, instead having each major character be an unwitting foil to the other in a way that suggests what is later explicitly stated (by the medic) as madness. It's not perhaps the most original of anti-war statements, but it was portrayed to extremely good effect. Also, the last 20 minutes or so is as riveting and tense as anything that has come out since. Granted, it's not perfect as there is a rather superfluous romance between Shears and his nurse but, studio-mandated love interest aside, this film stands as not only one of the best anti-war films ever made, but one of the best films period.
January 22, 2015
"Bridge on the River Kwai" is two big movies in one, and they're both fantastic. Both tell fantastic tales of duty and self-sacrifice through big personalities brought to life by incomparable actors. But there are no idealized heroes here; everyone is as much wrong as they are right, and they are as motivated by pride and stubbornness as much as principles. While a power-tripping General Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) tests Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness)'s commitment to the international rules of war, a crack saboteur (Jack Hawkins) dragoons a deserter (William Holden) into doing a soldier's duty. These stories are ingeniously structured and interwoven so that all threads come to unexpected and compromised conclusions. A character may appear to win his battle, but if so, we may be certain that he will lose his war, and vice versa. Nicholson manfully (as the British might say) makes his point about the treatment of prisoners, and it is stirring to see him submit to severe mistreatment for the sake of an idea. But his real objective is not to uphold the rule of law, but to wound the pride of his foe, Saito, and to establish himself as the most influential-albeit imprisoned-figure in the camp. Once done, he zealously carries out the task Saito always intended for him, and in the fullness of his pride he does it better than he otherwise might have. Meanwhile, the would-be deserter Shears escapes from the prison camp and nearly escapes from the army as well, but the saboteur Warden traps him with the rule book. Nicholson and Shears are each prisoners, and each is used as a means to an end, but their arcs are also inversions of one another. Nicholson faces down his captor, but the determination that brought him that victory is also what leads him to undermine the army he loves. Shears submits to Warden and to the inescapable logic of the army he longs to leave, but in the end his personal sacrifice is a net gain for the cause. Lest the army come out smelling like a rose, victorious and free of compromise, Hawkins plays Warden as a cold man who in a second would sacrifice not only the charming audience surrogate Shears, but a group of female Thai porters as well. His Pyrrhic destruction of Nicholson's magnificent if misguided bridge is the occasion of the film's final word: "Madness!" There is a great deal of madness on display, but it is conveyed through wide-awake plotting and characterization.

David Lean's direction and Jack Hildyard's cinematography convey sweltering heat: the heat of the jungle, of Saito's tent and Nicholson's box, of Shears's beach and Warden's bungalow. But there is also a conscious distance separating audience from action. Whether framing a huge, explosive set piece with dozens of extras or a tense huddle over a table, the cameras are detached observers rather than participants. We see the big picture and think about why people act the way they do in their particular settings. We know them better than they know themselves, and understand each truth before it dawns on them. "Kwai," then, is a thing that hardly exists now: a big-budget war film that is observational and cerebral, not just gritty and melodramatic. Nor is it a simple matter of good versus evil. Though not at all a complicated movie to follow, its moral complexity is such that British audiences (and even some of the British actors) could feel it was anti-British, while Japanese audiences found it anti-Japanese. The movie is critical of all blind zealotry, and no wonder: screenwriters Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson had to go uncredited as a result of a Hollywood blacklist. Despite being an an uncomfortable watch for partisans and flag-wavers of all stripes, "Kwai" was a huge hit with audiences and critics, winning the 1958 box office and heaps of awards. Not everything has held up in the nearly 60 years since. The day-for-night shots, standard at the time, are particularly unconvincing. But the challenging messages and the flawed characters still hit hard and loom large, and the dramatic finale remains one of the great benchmarks of cinema.
Robbanflix
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2015
A classic altho i hadn't seen the whole movie before so it was fun to watch it now. Its a very old movie but seems almost a bit newer than it is. Story are good and acting on top with Alec Guiness (Obi Wan) and other famous faces. Its not much action war which makes it rather slow time to time but overall a nice classic flick.
December 20, 2014
A complex thought provoking film with an out of this world lead performance from Guinness
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