21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Of War, Honor, and Disillusionment
, February 11, 2000
This review is from: The Bridge on the River Kwai [VHS] (VHS Tape)
David Lean masterfully recreates Pierre Boulle's classic novelset in the Burmese jungle of World War II. The movie provides one ofthe great character studies ever captured on film. Two men, Colonel Saito played by Sessue Hayakawa, and Colonel Nicholson played by Alec Guinness, clash in an epic struggle of duty, honor, and will. Saito, a brutal, driven and reclusive prison camp commander stands in stark contrast to the equally driven but erudite and charismatic Nicholson. Upon arriving at the camp, Nicholson demands humane treatment for his troops in accordance with the conventions of war. Saito strikes the British Colonel and confines him in a small, sweltering tin box in an effort to break his will. As the days pass, the tension in the camp builds as the British soldiers, in forced labor, sabotage their Japanese captor's efforts to construct a railway bridge over the River Kwai. Saito, humbled and desperate, finally summons the emaciated Nicholson to meet in a gripping scene over dinner. The men ultimately reach a compromise to build the bridge, a compromise that sows the seeds for their eventual destruction. Hayakawa and Guinness, through sheer force of talent, depict the sense of honor and agony that consumes each of their characters.
The musical score, cinematography, and direction only accentuate the dramatic force of this movie. If you have never seen the film, I envy your first experience. If you have, then you know the satisfaction you derive from watching it again and again...
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