AFI”s 100 Greatest Movies #13
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Man, that David Lean just can’t make a small picture. First Lawrence of Arabia, now this? I actually think I prefer this to Lawrence of Arabia as far as epic movies go. You still get the sense of scope and.. epicness. But it only runs two and half hours compared to Lawrence’s three and half, and the plot flows a little better here. Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi himself) is british officer’s who’s been captured along with his men by the Japanese during WW2 and forced to work on a bridge in Burma. At first it’s a power struggle between the officer over the camp and Guinness himself. And Guinness is a complete Bad-A. Every scene he’s in, you have the sense that he is always in complete control. William Holden plays an American captor who escapes, but then is sent back on a mission to destroy the bridge. You have this odd struggle going on, where Col. Nicholson (Guinness) wants to complete the bridge to prove to the Japanese how resourceful and strong the british are. Even though he’s directly helping the other side. You see him fall in love with the project and it leads to a climax that’s really suspenseful. As far as epic movies go, this is now one of my favorites. it’s got great characters and story you can get really invested in. Not to mention, the cinematography is just breathtaking. This is one classic not to be missed.
FUN FACT: After the final scene was shot, producer Sam Spiegel shipped the film footage on five different planes to minimize the risk of loss.