The Bridge on the River Kwai

Watching The Bridge on the River Kwai, David Lean’s WWII masterpiece and a film that’s somehow ambivalent and unequivocal at the same time, one is left with an aching feeling of futility. The futility of a Japanese officer (Sessue Hayakawa) who must surrender honor to get his prisoners of war to build a vital railroad bridge, the futility of an American rogue (William Holden) forced to return to the POW camp he had barely escaped from, and the futility of an obstinate British colonel (the late, great Alec Guinness) who finally creates something he can leave behind only to realize that he’s damned himself in the process — this epic proudly illustrates just how oxymoronic the phrase ”civilized warfare” truly is. For its DVD premiere, Columbia TriStar has whipped up a stellar two-disc special-edition set to enshrine this piece of cinema history appropriately, featuring a crystalline anamorphic wide-screen transfer, an exclusive retrospective documentary, the original behind-the-scenes featurette, a brief appreciation/dissection of the film by manly-man writer-director John Milius, and a USC short film shot on the Kwai location that’s introduced by Holden. The Bridge on the River Kwai is that rare film about something as seemingly black-and-white as World War II that is colored entirely in shades of gray, and the better for it. A

The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Movie
  • 161 minutes