Movie Review: No 95. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Movie Review: No 95. The Bridge on the River Kwai

There are black and white movies and there are colour movies, and now… for the first time… I introduce you to….

Sepia movies!

Brown, brown, brown, that’s what it’s all about people! It’s like sitting and watching an instagram for the better part of 3 hours. Fun for the whole family!

Seriously though, this movie is good.

Black comedy (or possibly brown comedy?) hits its strides in ‘Kwai’. There are one or two top-notch quotes as well:

Major Shears: You make me sick with your heroics! There’s a stench of death about you. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L-pills – they go well together, don’t they? And with you it’s just one thing or the other: destroy a bridge or destroy yourself. This is just a game, this war! You and Colonel Nicholson, you’re two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman… how to die by the rules – when the only important thing is how to live like a human being.

Notice that I didn’t say the movie was “great”. It’s got issues – not the least of which being (as in so many other movies) the almost unbearably slow first half. Trudging through the first half you can empathise with the soldiers who trudged shoeless through the Burmese jungle. It’s painful alright.

But the payoff! Oh, the payoff!

The bridge itself cost $250,000 to build, which shows you the unwavering commitment to this film. It’s a thing of rare cinematic beauty. When watching ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘, I was struck by the feeling that nothing so monstrously expensive would ever be attempted again – rendering it a “once in a lifetime” kind of film. The same can be said of ‘Kwai’ and its bridge. The bridge really is a masterful example of set design that you would be unlikely to see again today. Forget the elbow grease – CGI would take care of that in a few short days.

I try to avoid spoilers in my film reviews (even when the films are 56 years old like this one). It’s a practice I don’t intend to stop now. What I will say is that the ending of this film literally had me on the edge of my seat… and shouting obscenities at the TV.

It’s a movie that has so much potential and a few really, REALLY great scenes; “Best ever” type scenes. Now that the hard slog is over I would love to rate it more highly, however the memory of the hard viewing work I had to put in to get that payoff is holding me back. If you haven’t seen it, just trust me when I say “it’s worth it”.

7.5 pumpkins.

Check out how that compares to my other ratings here.

Have you seen ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.


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