He ignores the thorny issue of whether building the bridge is abetting the enemy. The second "prong" of the movie concerns Major Shears William Holden , an American who escapes from the camp shortly after Nicholson's arrival. Despite nearly dying more than once, he makes it to safety, and is nursed back to health at a British outpost. While there, he is "invited" to return to the camp as part of a commando squad led by Major Warden Jack Hawkins.
Shears, although less than enthusiastic about the assignment, agrees, and soon he, Warden, and several others are on there way into the jungles of Burma, setting out to destroy the bridge on the river Kwai that Nicholson is building. The sequences featuring Holden exist to add a little adventure to the proceedings and, in the case of the beach scenes, sex appeal. These segments were not in Pierre Boulle's novel, and represent a compromise made by Lean to increase the movie's worldwide appeal.
Fortunately, they strengthen, not dilute, the finished product. The producers insisted that there had to be a "name" American in an important role, so Lean capitulated. In an interview after the film's release, Boulle reportedly remarked that, although the material centered around Shears was not in his book, he wished it had been.
He thought it made a great addition. The real meat of the movie, however, takes place in and around the Japanese prisoner camp, making mad Colonel Nicholson the central figure.
The film's detractors object to the "soft peddling" of Japanese tactics when dealing with captives, but no purpose would have been served by demonizing the Japanese and making Saito any more cruel than he is. The point is for him to be a character, not a monster. There's something Lear-like about Nicholson.
He is stubborn, intractable, and intelligent. His battle of wills with Saito - a titanic struggle that Nicholson wins because he has less to lose than his opponent - is the most compelling aspect of The Bridge on the River Kwai. Nicholson is willing to allow men under his command to die so he can prove a point. It has been said that only an insane man will not break under torture, and Nicholson will not break.
There is a perverse, twisted logic in his reasoning about why his men should do the best job possible in building the bridge. It's a matter of pride and ego. The plot of the story goes as follows. Colonel Nicholson and his allied POW's are taken captive by Colonel Saito of Japan who force the prisoners to do manual labor for them by building a bridge to connect a railroad from Bangkok to Rangoon.
Nicholson refuses to do work at first and is locked up in a small box. There is no greater dishonor for the aristocracy, of course, than manual labor! In order to prove what he feels is the cultural superiority of the British, Nicholson decides to build the best bridge that his troops are capable of. For him, protocol has become a reflex, a kind of muscle memory.
When knocked down by an explosion moments before he himself destroys his beloved bridge, he picks himself up, dazed and uncomprehending, yet still straightens up his uniform, oblivious to the bullets flying around him.
His vision proposes an awareness of a bigger picture than the politics of war. Perhaps too big a picture. For the sake of lasting British pride, Nicholson sacrifices his compatriots; he forgets, or simply ignores that his actions help the enemy. Saito, meanwhile, quietly accepts that the British officers will oversee the rebuilding of the bridge from scratch, as the Japanese engineer has demonstrated technical incompetence. Barely escaping the jungle alive, he finds rescue in a Siamese village and recovers from his ordeal in a Ceylon hospital, where he enjoys the peaceful beaches and the company of an affectionate nurse.
While mending, Shears is approached by Major Warden Jack Hawkins of the shrewdly renamed Force to accompany a commando mission back into the jungle, where they will sabotage the bridge over the River Kwai. Shears refuses, until Warden reminds him that he is not Shears, but an enlisted man that switched identities with the real Commander Shears to get better treatment after their ship sank. The commandos parachute into the jungle and, along with a Siamese guide and several porters, make their way to the bridge.
This is just a game, this war. 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. It has become his obsession to erect this symbol of the British spirit; all other concerns are nonexistent. He even asks that some of the capable wounded and officers work alongside their men, despite his earlier victory over Saito on this very point.
As the bridge nears completion, the commandos covertly place charges about the structure in the night and intend to detonate with the arrival of the inaugural train the next day. In the morning, Nicholson makes a final inspection and, as the water level on the river has dropped overnight, he sees the exposed wires of the explosives. Time is short, as the Japanese train approaches in the distance. The commandos are spotted, inciting Japanese gunfire.
Joyce kills Saito with his knife. Nicholson attacks Joyce, in fear of his precious bridge being destroyed. Warden responds with mortars. Shears makes his way to Nicholson, who recognizes the American and realizes his own folly. When he falls, the bridge explodes, sending the train and the structure into the river.
Did Nicholson fall on purpose? Or was it merely an accident that landed him on the plunger? Certainly his last line of dialogue reinforces the argument that Nicholson deliberately fell on the plunger.
On the other hand, if it occurred by accident, then his collapse gives the moment poignant, fatalistic meaning. The most likely solution is that Nicholson makes for the plunger with the intention to push it, then dies suddenly, and in death he falls on the plunger.
Boulle spoke almost no English, so Spiegel sought an experienced Hollywood scribe for the adaptation. Then again, Foreman did have the insight to blow the bridge in the finale. Nicholson saves his precious bridge. To clarify what was desired in the screen story, Lean and associate producer Norman Spencer completed a treatment. For a time, Lean worked on the script himself, while Spiegel enlisted another blacklisted writer, Michael Wilson, who would later adapt another Boulle novel, The Planet of the Apes.The second "prong" of the movie concerns Major Shears William Holden , an American who escapes from the camp shortly after Nicholson's arrival. The adaptation is smart and gripping despite of ticking for almost there hours, it contains a potentially jagged script. The film's central relationship is between Saito and Nicholson, a professional soldier approaching his 28th anniversary of army service "I don't suppose I've been at home more than 10 months in all that time". Both collide at first but then end up joining forces, in a way that we don't even realize what side the English are because their pride demands that the bridge be ready on time and be very good! Only in Hollywood could a story of this size be told, and only Lean could give it such depth. Certainly his last line of dialogue reinforces the argument that Nicholson deliberately fell on the plunger.
Charles Laughton originally was cast as Col. Both collide at first but then end up joining forces, in a way that we don't even realize what side the English are because their pride demands that the bridge be ready on time and be very good! Pratley, Gerald.
Meanwhile, the British celebrate completion of the bridge with an improbable musical revue that doesn't reflect what is known about the brutal conditions of the POW camps. And to Clipton James Donald , the army doctor who says the final words, they could simply mean that the final violent confusion led to unnecessary death. Or was it merely an accident that landed him on the plunger?
Boulle was soon captured and put into a POW camp; after two years he escaped. Alec Guinness is the most notable actor, with a truly exceptional role and performance, but William Holden and Sessue Hayakawa also deserve applause for the way they stand. The novels he wrote were a mixture of both his experiences and his imagination. After a while Nicholson comes out of his cage and sees the bridge that was constructed and realizes what great work his soldiers have done. That obsession is with building a better bridge, and finishing it on time. At the height of his celebrity, the charismatic Holden earned his paycheck through popularity, although his talent was often overlooked in favor of his good looks.
In , the Academy redressed the injustice by awarding a posthumous Oscar to Wilson who was dead and Foreman who died the day after the announcement was made. He believes this to be an excellent way to whip his troops back into shape and show the enemy what good British efficiency can produce. Seconds later, he loses consciousness and inadvertently depresses the plunger. He even produces a copy of the document, which Saito uses to whip him across the face, drawing blood.
Holden believed deeply in the project, and The Bridge on the River Kwai became one of his most memorable roles, even though it is essentially a supporting part. For the sake of lasting British pride, Nicholson sacrifices his compatriots; he forgets, or simply ignores that his actions help the enemy. The commander of the camp, Colonel Saito Sessue Hayakawa , does not believe that the men who forced their troops to surrender should be absolved of heavy work. As a result, he spoke his lines phonetically and read only the pages of the script where his character had dialogue. There are other actors who have been great but I highlight these by the psychological game of their characters. Shears is already in the camp; we've seen him steal a cigarette lighter from a corpse to bribe his way into the sick bay.
His ability to fashion sophisticated yet universally entertaining motion pictures like The Bridge on the River Kwai grows from his control as an artist and craftsman whose place belongs among the greatest of all directors. Preproduction began with plans to shoot in the jungles of Ceylon.
Whistling the melody was an easier solution than trying to pass the lyrics by any censor board.
The nature sounds Lean relies on instead prove a lot more powerful. The two men engage in a battle of wills, each driven by strict principles and personal codes of honor.
Not, as he puts it, the British army's pride, but his own. Much like the film, the book earned much acclaim, but it lacked the natural and pointedly cinematic conclusion—something even Boulle himself would admit. The birth of the blockbuster occurred in Few, if any, are as simultaneously thrilling, awe-inspiring, and tragic as The Bridge on the River Kwai. The film deals with the situation of British and American prisoners of war, who were captured by the Japanese during World War II and were forced to build a bridge over the river Kwai, in order to accommodate Japanese Burma-Siam railway.
His battle of wills with Saito - a titanic struggle that Nicholson wins because he has less to lose than his opponent - is the most compelling aspect of The Bridge on the River Kwai. He ignores the thorny issue of whether building the bridge is abetting the enemy.
Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, The Bridge on the River Kwai catapulted that song from obscurity to world-wide awareness. Although he worked onstage and in films in both Japan and the United States, he was unusual among Japanese actors of his generation in his low-key delivery; in "Kwai" he doesn't bluster, but is cool and understated--as clipped as Guinness. Maxford, Howard.