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The Bridge on the River Kwai

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United Kingdom, United States · 1957
Rated PG · 2h 41m
Director David Lean
Starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa
Genre Drama, History, War

The classic story of English POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors. British and American intelligence officers conspire to blow up the structure, but Col. Nicholson , the commander who supervised the bridge's construction, has acquired a sense of pride in his creation and tries to foil their plans.

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What are people saying?

Avery Herman Profile picture for Avery Herman

How can war be so confusing? The Bridge Over the River Kwai is a neat, economic, and powerful portrait of British education, and how it affects one's perceptions of right and wrong.

What are critics saying?


Entertainment Weekly by

The Bridge on the River Kwai is that rare film about something as seemingly black-and-white as World War II that is colored entirely in shades of gray, and the better for it.


The New York Times by Bosley Crowther

Brilliant is the word, and no other, to describe the quality of skills that have gone into the making of this picture, from the writing of the script out of a novel by the Frenchman Pierre Boulle, to direction, performance, photographing, editing and application of a musical score.


Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

For what it is, it ain't bad, though it serves mainly as an illustration of the ancient quandary of revisionist moviemakers: if all you do is systematically invert cliches, you simply end up creating new ones.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

The post-World War II cinematic landscape is littered with big-budget movies about the conflict and the toll it took upon those who participated. Some of those pictures have become timeless classics and some are nearly forgotten. Few, if any, are as simultaneously thrilling, awe-inspiring, and tragic as The Bridge on the River Kwai


New York Daily News by Kate Cameron

Brilliant performances are to be credited to Alec Guinness, as the British colonel, who insists on sticking to the rules of the Geneva Conference governing prisoners of war, and Sessue Hayakawa as the stubborn, cruel, proud Japanese officer.

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