Monday, 24 December 2012

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai,1957,UK
Director: David Lean
Stars: Alec Guiness, William Holden & Jack Hawkins
''A word to you about escape. There is no barbed wire. No stockade. No watchtower. They are not necessary. We are an island in the jungle. Escape is impossible. You would die.''

Film #91 of the December Project

Its a beautiful thing when a film not only meets your expectations, but completely transcends them beyond you're imagination, I experienced this with the 1957 classic, David Lean's 'The Bridge on the the River Kwai'.

A group of British soldiers arrive at Japanese POW camp, which results in plenty of hostility between the British Colonel Nicholson and the Japanese Colonel Saito, after Nicholson's refusal of his men to participate in hard labor. The two colonels eventually reach an agreement which sees the British work on a railway bridge for their captors, but are unaware that their allies, the Americans, have intentions of destroying the bridge.

I am not quite sure why it took me so damn to finally get around to see this film, it actually seems like we have a shortage of DVD copies in Australia. Recently I was finally able to acquire a Blu-Ray copy and was excited to finally see the film. 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' has a reputation of being one of the greatest films ever made, so I was very hopeful I would agree with the masses on that statement, turns out I can agree whole heartedly.

This film is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word. For its 161 minutes of run time I sat in awe at the mastery that was being displayed on screen. The story, the direction, the performances, the cinematography were all as good as I have ever seen. This is the definition of the power of filmmaking, and the effect it can have on an audience.

The films premise is quite simple on paper, but its an extremely complex and winding tale about the effects of war and the nature of responsibility. The Screenplay by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman is an absolutely brilliant, intelligent, dynamic, involving and thrilling piece of work which is perfectly brought to the screen by David Lean, who creates an incredible film. The cinematography by Jack Hildyard is absolutely phenomenal, he captures the life of the jungle and the essence of war through the camera lens.     

I honestly don't think I have been as emotionally involved in a film like I was in the climax sequence of this film. This was truly an incredible feat, creating quite possibly the most thrilling and heart pounding sequence in film history. The film is full of iconic, triumphant and emotional moments that will both inspire and enlighten you.

The cast in this film is perfect. Alec Guiness gives the greatest performance of his career as Colonel Nicholson, its an incredibly powerful showing as Guiness creates a hard nosed character built on principles. William Holden is brilliant as usual, and the supporting cast that includes the likes of Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa are just sensational.

Its a very daunting task when reviewing a film like 'The Bridge on the River Kwai', I mean what can I say about it that already hasn't been said ? The film is a bona fide masterpiece that more than deserves its stellar reputation. I will say that this is a film that embodies my passion for the medium, its an example of the true power that cinema posses. Truly one of the greatest film experiences I have ever had and definitely one of the greatest films ever made.


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