Movie Review Flashback: ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’: Another David Lean Masterpiece!

Wow, wow, wow. I’ve watched three David Lean movies: Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and now The Bridge on the River Kwai. Each film has been utterly stunning, both visually and narratively. Doctor Zhivago was a bit slower but a crack at the more romantic side of things. Lawrence of Arabia swept me away for three hours and fifty-eight minutes with its mesmerizing performance by Peter O’ Toole and David Lean’s incredible directing which brought the beauty of the desert in ways I didn’t conceive imaginable on the big screen. And once again David Lean does not stray from highlighting the beauty of his movie’s regional settings with The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Set in the sweltering jungles of Burma and filmed in Sri Lanka, the movie immerses you in its seemingly unlivable conditions. The white soldiers with their tanned brown skins and bare-chested bodies gleaming in a thin slick of sweat and their hair matted against their heads make you feel their incredible discomfort. The giant bats swarming overhead is something that I actually hope I can see with my own eyes one day but in the context of the film is utterly terrifying.

The story was brilliantly crafted, piecing together a striking disapproving glare at officers’ egos and the madness of war. The music was just as striking, its occasional beats delivering a very militaristic and almost sadistic view to the entire story.

Alec Guinness won a deserved Oscar for Best Actor for this film but I ended up liking William Holden’s character, Shears, the most in the movie. Maybe that’s because he was the most level-headed in the film, next to James Donald’s Lieutenant Clipton. Maybe because he managed to corral that American Joe Gillis-like personality that made him so darn lovable in Sunset Boulevard. Or maybe because he was the only American in the movie and I found myself able to relate with him the most.

All in all, it was an incredible film. I thought I would like it but I didn’t know I would LOVE IT!!! That ending, oh my gosh, I was on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen and when it did happen…oh my goodness. Just, wow!

This movie won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, and I see why. It is amazing!

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a spectacular day.

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