8.1/10
188,543
307 user 90 critic

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Trailer
3:07 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British Colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director:

David Lean

Writers:

Pierre Boulle (novel), Carl Foreman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
965 ( 1,922)
Top Rated Movies #164 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 23 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Ben-Hur (1959)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
Platoon (1986)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A young soldier in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
The Sting (1973)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Certificate: GP Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
Patton (1970)
Certificate: GP Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Shears
Alec Guinness ... Colonel Nicholson
Jack Hawkins ... Major Warden
Sessue Hayakawa ... Colonel Saito
James Donald ... Major Clipton
Geoffrey Horne ... Lieutenant Joyce
André Morell ... Colonel Green (as Andre Morell)
Peter Williams Peter Williams ... Captain Reeves
John Boxer John Boxer ... Major Hughes
Percy Herbert ... Grogan
Harold Goodwin ... Baker
Ann Sears ... Nurse
Heihachirô Ôkawa Heihachirô Ôkawa ... Captain Kanematsu (as Heihachirô 'Henry' Ôkawa)
Keiichirô Katsumoto Keiichirô Katsumoto ... Lieutenant Miura (as Keiichiro Katsumoto) (as K. Katsumoto)
M.R.B. Chakrabandhu M.R.B. Chakrabandhu ... Yai
Edit

Storyline

DurinWW II, allied POWS in a Japanese internment camp are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge, but under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson they're persuaded the bridge should be built to help morale, spirit. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of Japanese Commandant Colonel Saito, But, soon they realise it's a monument to Nicholson, himself, as well as a form of collaboration with the enemy. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It spans a whole new world of entertainment!

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Japanese | Thai

Release Date:

14 December 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El puente sobre el río Kwai See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$27,200,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$27,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Horizon Pictures (II) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (1973 re-isssue 70 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| Mono (35 mm prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| 4-Track Stereo (Linear PCM)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The final scene of the movie (an aerial shot of Major Clipton (James Donald) walking away from the scene of the bridge explosion) was the last scene to be shot. The cast and most of the crew had left Ceylon, and the producers had taken the cameras away, too. Director Sir David Lean had to use a wind-up 35mm camera to shoot it and also a stand-in for James Donald, who had also returned to the U.K. Many years later, Lean, in a BBC TV Interview with movie critic Barry Norman, admitted he hated the scene, as the stand-in looked so stiff and unnatural and "walked like a mannequin". See more »

Goofs

Japan was not a signatory of the Geneva Conventions until 1953, therefore there was no expectation by Allied prisoners of being treated in accordance with them. In fact, the Japanese treatment of prisoners led to the review and update of the conventions in 1949. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Nicholson: Hughes, if this were your bridge, how would you use the men?
Major Hughes: [chuckles] Well, sir, not the way they're doing it. It's utter chaos, as you can see at a glance. It's a lot of uncoordinated activity; no teamwork. Some of those parties are actually working against each other.
Colonel Nicholson: Yes... I tell you, gentlemen, we have a problem on our hands. Thanks to the Japanese, we now command a rabble. There's no order, no discipline. Our task is to rebuild the battalion.
Major Reeves: Yes, sir.
Colonel Nicholson: It isn't going to be easy, but ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

And introducing Geoffrey Horne See more »

Alternate Versions

Various versions have different main credits. There is the original that gives screenplay credit to Pierre Boulle, there is the restored version in which previously blacklisted Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson are credited and there is the original version that was distributed to cinemas at the time still lacking in CinemaScope equipment in which the Cinema Scope credit is omitted and the credits formatted to fit the smaller frame. See more »

Connections

Referenced in History of World Cinema (2021) See more »

Soundtracks

Radio Dance Music
(uncredited)
Music by Dave Shand
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The Definitive Guinness Performance
9 June 2001 | by jhcluesSee all my reviews

Within the Conflict that was World War II, there were many more smaller, more personal conflicts which, when added up, made a significant impact on the outcome of the War; though trying to explain them, or war in general, is like attempting to decipher the indecipherable. In `The Bridge On the River Kwai,' director David Lean takes you deep into the Burmese jungle to examine some of these deeper conflicts, and the effects of extraordinary circumstances on some ordinary men: British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) is a man of rigid principles and ideals, to whom acquiescence in any quarter is not an option; Japanese Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) lives by an inflexible code of conduct and is adamant in his adherence to it, through which he maintains his dignity and honor; American Navy Commander Shears (William Holden) just wants to make it through the war alive and get back home.

As an integral part of their war effort, the Japanese have ordered a strategic bridge to be built across the Kwai River to facilitate the transport of troops and equipment. This monumental task has been given to Saito, the commandant of an allied prisoners-of-war camp; and not only must he build it, it must be completed by a specific date. And time is short. Toward that end, Saito has pressed into service every prisoner, including officers, whom according to the Geneva Convention of 1864 (which established rules for the humane treatment of prisoners of war), are to be excluded from any manual labor. When a fresh contingent of British prisoners arrives to bolster his complement of workers, Saito finds himself up against a formidable opponent, Nicholson, who immediately informs Saito that his officers will not work, in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention. And it's the beginning of another war-- a war of wills-- between two men determined to win at any cost. To Saito, this is more than just another assignment, it's an obligation, and failure is not an option. If he does not succeed in having the bridge built-- and on time-- he will be forced to take his own life, in accordance with his own moral code. Nicholson, on the other hand, is unyielding to the point of madness, and will die before he accedes to Saito's demands.

Meanwhile Shears has managed by some miracle to escape and has made his way back to Ceylon. And he's home free-- after some recuperation time at Mount Lavinia Hospital, he'll be on his way back to the states. Or so he thinks. But unbeknownst to him, the British are aware of the bridge being built on the Kwai, and are planning a commando raid to destroy it. And Shears has something they need: First hand knowledge of the precise location, and of the jungle through which he made his miraculous escape. Subsequently, the Navy agrees to `loan' Shears to the British, to aid them with their mission. So instead of a ticket home, Shears is faced with another arduous trek through an uncompromising jungle, all for a mission of which the odds against success are nearly incalculable.

From the beginning of the film to it's spectacular climax, Lean builds and maintains a subtle tension that underscores the drama, which makes this a compelling, unforgettable motion picture. Lean is the Master of epic films such as this, filling them with sweeping visuals while integrating them with the emotional involvement of his characters perfectly. Lean knows what he wants and how to get it, and he takes a terrific story (and this definitely is one) and tells it by using every bit of space--visually and audibly-- at this disposal. And most importantly, he knows how to get the kind of performances from his actors to put it all across so convincingly and believably.

Alec Guinness deservedly received the Oscar for Best Actor for his role of Nicholson, whom he embodies from the inside out, disappearing so utterly into the character that the actor is forgotten, leaving nothing but the real man in his stead. It's a superlative piece of acting from one of the truly great actors of all times. Holden, as well, delivers an outstanding performance as Shears, capturing that somewhat embittered, off-handed sarcasm and resignation of a man trapped by circumstances beyond his control, who nevertheless does what he can to make the most of it, while awaiting the first opportunity for escape that affords itself. Holden's work here is Award-worthy, as well, but was destined to forever remain in the shadows of what is probably the definitive Guinness performance. And what a rare treat, having two performances of this caliber in a single film.

Other notable performances include Hayakawa, entirely convincing as the tormented Saito, and Jack Hawkins, as demolition expert Major Warden, the absolute personification of the undaunted British stiff-upper-lip.

The supporting cast includes James Donald (Clipton), Geoffrey Horne (Joyce), Percy Herbert (Grogan), Ann Sears (Nurse) and Andre Morell (Green). Beautifully filmed and expertly crafted and delivered, `The Bridge On the River Kwai' is one of David Lean's masterpieces. It's an emotionally involving, dramatic action/adventure that offers some real insight into the determination and tenacity of the human spirit. This film (especially the ending) is one you will never forget; a classic in every sense of the word, it exemplifies the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.


121 of 157 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 307 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed