This film was shot in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), and a bridge was erected for the purpose of shooting the film over Kelani River at Kitulgala, Sri Lanka. Only in 1984 did the Academy rectify the situation by retroactively awarding the Oscar to Foreman and Wilson, posthumously in both cases. Correspondence between film companies and the War Office turns up in a number of files at The National Archives. A Gem of the Silver Screen. [17], The producers nearly suffered a catastrophe following the filming of the bridge explosion. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities. Three prisoners escape. The screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were on the Hollywood blacklist and, even though living in exile in England, could only work on the film in secret. The march was written in 1914 by Kenneth J. Alford, a pseudonym of British Bandmaster Frederick J. Ricketts. [9], Many directors were considered for the project, among them John Ford, William Wyler, Howard Hawks, Fred Zinnemann, and Orson Welles (who was also offered a starring role). [24][25][26][27], The plot and characters of Boulle's novel and the screenplay were almost entirely fictional.[28]. In the film, a Colonel Saito is camp commandant. But the reality was a bit different than the movie. Although it was not exposed to sunlight, the heat-sensitive colour film stock should have been hopelessly ruined; however, when processed the shots were perfect and appeared in the film. It's more appropriate - and much more fun - to take the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and the Bridge on the River Kwai using the Death Railway itself. The Bridge On The River Kwai – 1957 – English. Most importantly, there were nowhere to escape from the camp as it was surrounded by jungle. Both writers had to work in secret, as they were on the Hollywood blacklist and had fled to the UK in order to continue working. [6][7] In 1999, the British Film Institute voted The Bridge on the River Kwai the 11th greatest British film of the 20th century. And a bloke called George Siegatz ... —an expert whistler—began to whistle Colonel Bogey, and a hit was born.". An example of this is when commandos Warden and Joyce hunt a fleeing Japanese soldier through the jungle, desperate to prevent him from alerting other troops. Shears is so appalled at going back he confesses he is not an officer; he impersonated one, expecting better treatment from the Japanese. The train crashed into a generator on the other side of the bridge and was wrecked. Warden is wounded in an encounter with a Japanese patrol and has to be carried on a litter. After Guinness was done with the scene, Lean said, "Now you can all fuck off and go home, you English actors. The film was made in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Discussions over building a replica of the bridge are currently underway. [25] He strongly denied the claim that the book was anti-British, although many involved in the film itself (including Alec Guinness) felt otherwise. Directed by David Lean. Warden fires a mortar, wounding Nicholson. He described the music for The Bridge on the River Kwai as the "worst job I ever had in my life" from the point of view of time. The filming of the bridge explosion was to be done on 10 March 1957, in the presence of S.W.R.D. Mitch Miller had a hit with a recording of both marches. For example, a Sergeant-Major Risaburo Saito was in real life second in command at the camp. Young: "Donald, did anyone whistle Colonel Bogey ... as they did in the film?" The fourth film in our blog series is ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957) directed by David Lean. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities. It stresses the importance of duty, but Kwai is quick to show how adherence to duty for the wrong reasons (pride, for example) can tempt disaster.This film may look like another glossy World War II film from the late 1950s, but it is in a class all by itself. [53], On 2 November 2010 Columbia Pictures released a newly restored The Bridge on the River Kwai for the first time on Blu-ray. Witnessing the carnage, Clipton shakes his head, muttering, "Madness! On another occasion, they argued over the scene where Nicholson reflects on his career in the army. In March 1958, The Bridge on the River Kwai swept seven Academy Awards including the award for Best Picture. Guinness later said that he subconsciously based his walk while emerging from "the Oven" on that of his eleven-year-old son Matthew,[14] who was recovering from polio at the time, a disease that left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. He created the railroad. Also, in the novel, the bridge is not destroyed: the train plummets into the river from a secondary charge placed by Warden, but Nicholson (never realising "what have I done?") The film uses the historical setting of the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943. Toosey was very different from Nicholson and was certainly not a collaborator who felt obliged to work with the Japanese. The movie was based on the 1952 novel by Pierre Boulle. In a 1988 interview with Barry Norman, Lean confirmed that Columbia almost stopped filming after three weeks because there was no white woman in the film, forcing him to add what he calls, "a very terrible scene" between William Holden and the nurse on the beach. The negative itself manifested many of the kinds of issues one would expect from a film of this vintage: torn frames, embedded emulsion dirt, scratches through every reel, colour fading. In reality, Risaburo Saito was respected by his prisoners for being comparatively merciful and fair towards them. ", The screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were on the Hollywood blacklist and, even though living in exile in England, could only work on the film in secret. Lean filmed the scene from behind Guinness and exploded in anger when Guinness asked him why he was doing this. Nicholson yells for help, while attempting to stop Joyce from reaching the detonator. Nicholson is shocked by the poor job being done by his men. Many historical inaccuracies in the film have often been noted by eyewitnesses to the building of the real Burma Railway and historians. We hadn't much breath left for whistling. Whether via VHS, widescreen VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, or even high-definition Blu-ray, it has long been plagued by an overly contrasty, crushed, murky look that didn’t quash its emotional impact but nonetheless seemed like a missed opportunity, especially given the film’s lush setting. It was the highest-grossing film of 1957 in the United States and Canada and was also the most popular film at the British box office that year. Both bridges were destroyed by Allied bombers on 2 April 1945, although they had been damaged and repaired several times before. Toosey in fact did as much as possible to delay the building of the bridge. This was an incorrect assumption. The wooden bridge over the River Kwae Yai, which in Boulle’s book was called the River Kwai, was completed in February 1943, followed by a concrete and steel bridge completed in June 1943. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Over the protests of some of his officers, he orders Captain Reeves and Major Hughes to build a proper bridge, in order to maintain his men's morale and pride in their professionalism. Ordinarily, the film would have been taken by boat to London, but due to the Suez crisis this was impossible; therefore the film was taken by air freight. By daybreak the river level has dropped, exposing the wire connecting the explosives to the detonator. Boulle based his novel, published in 1952, on his … Nicholson spots the wire and brings it to Saito's attention. The 1957 movie Bridge on the River Kwai may be one of the most famous war movies ever made, winning seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. The 1957 award winning British-American war film The Bridge on the River Kwai was based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai (1952) which brought these struggles of the survivors to light. [36] By October 1960, the film had earned worldwide box office revenues of $30 million. The steel bridge was repaired and is still in use today. [12], Director David Lean clashed with his cast members on multiple occasions, particularly Alec Guinness and James Donald, who thought the novel was anti-British. When the Japanese launched their lightning attacks in December 1941, they not only targeted the American fleet and its island bases, but … Boulle nonetheless enjoyed the film version though he disagreed with its climax. Wise: "I never heard it in Thailand. Toosey later defended him in his war crimes trial after the war, and the two became friends. [8], The film was relatively faithful to the novel, with two major exceptions. The official credit was given to Pierre Boulle (who did not speak English), and the resulting Oscar for Best Screenplay (Adaptation) was awarded to him. As a result, Boulle, who did not speak English, was credited and received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; many years later, Foreman and Wilson posthumously received the Academy Award.[3]. Nicholson forbids any escape attempts because they were ordered by headquarters to surrender, and escapes could be seen as defiance of orders. These problems resulted in a number of anomalies that were very difficult to correct, like a ghosting effect in many scenes that resembles colour mis-registration, and a tick-like effect with the image jumping or jerking side-to-side. [39], The film initially received generally positive reviews, with Guinness being widely praised for his performance. Arnold won an Academy Award for the film's score. [42], Slant Magazine gave the film four out of five stars. "The ending of that was sort of the story of life. [15] Guinness later reflected on the scene, calling it the "finest piece of work" he had ever done. The commandant, Colonel Saito, informs them that all prisoners, regardless of rank, will work on the construction of a railway bridge over the River Kwai that will connect Bangkok and Rangoon. But I am writing a factual account, and in justice to these men—living and dead—who worked on that bridge, I must make it clear that we never did so willingly. Lean shouted at them, 'For God's sake, whistle a march to keep time to.' He knew that the railway ran parallel to the Kwae for many miles, and he therefore assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just north of Kanchanaburi. [10][11], The film was an international co-production between companies in Britain and the United States. When Joyce is mortally wounded by Japanese fire, Shears swims across the river, but is himself shot. The Bridge on the River Kwai has never been a great-looking film. At the morning assembly, Nicholson orders his officers to remain behind when the enlisted men march off to work. [54] The original negative for the feature was scanned at 4k (roughly four times the resolution in High Definition), and the colour correction and digital restoration were also completed at 4k. While Nicholson disapproves of acts of sabotage and other deliberate attempts to delay progress, Toosey encouraged this: termites were collected in large numbers to eat the wooden structures, and the concrete was badly mixed. However, the true history of what really happened during the building of the bridge over the River Kwai has almost been erased by the popularity of the movie. It was repaired in time to be blown up the next morning, with Bandaranaike and his entourage present. Despite this, he won an Oscar and a Grammy. Madness! The filming location for Bridge on the River Kwai is today indicated by a discreet, rusted piece of metal on which directions to the area have been painted. On this, its 60th birthday, The Bridge on the River Kwai has lost none of its majesty. does not fall onto the plunger, and the bridge suffers only minor damage. Joyce, manning the detonator, breaks cover and stabs Saito to death. ABC, sponsored by Ford, paid a record $1.8 million for the television rights for two screenings in the United States. Shears is enjoying his hospital stay in Ceylon when British Major Warden invites him to join a commando mission to destroy the bridge before it is completed. Unique to this film, in some ways, were other issues related to poorly made optical dissolves, the original camera lens and a malfunctioning camera. [50][51], The film was restored in 1992 by Columbia Pictures. He, Shears, and Canadian Lieutenant Joyce reach the river in time with the assistance of Siamese women bearers and their village chief, Khun Yai. David Lean's epic war drama The Bridge On The River Kwai is a film that succeeds in keeping the "epic" relatively small scale. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities. Usually, the correspondence centres on requests for support from the War Office. In many tense, dramatic scenes, only the sounds of nature are used. These issues, running throughout the film, were addressed to a lesser extent on various previous DVD releases of the film and might not have been so obvious in standard definition. For the novel, see, 1957 World War II film directed by David Lean, American theatrical release poster, "Style A", A transcript of the interview and the documentary as a whole can be found in the new edition of John Coast's book, Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, 11th greatest British film of the 20th century, the highest-grossing film of 1957 in the United States and Canada, Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Best Sound Track Album, Dramatic Picture Score or Original Cast, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition), "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress", "New to the National Film Registry (December 1997) - Library of Congress Information Bulletin", "Flashback: A look back at this day in film history (, "How Father Brown Led Sir Alec Guinness to the Church", "links for research, Allied POWs under the Japanese", "The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the, "Once-Stupendous-Now-Modest $2,700,000 Budget Kept Secret; 'River Kwai's' Sockfull Gross", "Balu Mahendra, who made his visuals speak, dies at 74", "Warren Buffett carries an American Express card and about $400 in cash", The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai, "Movies | Disc & Digital | Sony Pictures", "Wayne and Shuster Show, The Episode Guide (1954–1990) (series)", Lost and Found: The Story of Cook's Anchor, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, National Board of Review Award for Best Film, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Bridge_on_the_River_Kwai&oldid=992497779, Films featuring a Best Actor Academy Award-winning performance, Films featuring a Best Drama Actor Golden Globe winning performance, Films whose cinematographer won the Best Cinematography Academy Award, Films whose director won the Best Directing Academy Award, Films whose director won the Best Director Golden Globe, Films whose editor won the Best Film Editing Academy Award, Films whose writer won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award, Films that won the Best Original Score Academy Award, United States National Film Registry films, Films with screenplays by Michael Wilson (writer), Short description is different from Wikidata, Album articles lacking alt text for covers, Wikipedia articles with CANTIC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, $30.6 million (worldwide rentals from initial release), Best DVD Original Retrospective Documentary/Featurette, This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 16:08. For him, its completion will exemplify the ingenuity and hard work of the British Army. It was initially scripted by screenwriter Carl Foreman, who was later replaced by Michael Wilson. Lean had a lengthy row with Guinness over how to play the role of Nicholson; Guinness wanted to play the part with a sense of humour and sympathy, while Lean thought Nicholson should be "a bore." [44] William Holden was also credited for his acting, he was said to give a solid characterization and was "easy, credible and always likeable in a role that is the pivot point of the story". As the Japanese engineers chose a poor site, a new bridge is begun downstream. The conditions to which POW and civilian labourers were subjected were far worse than the film depicted. The British Film Institute placed The Bridge on the River Kwai as the 11th greatest British film. MHM’s movie summary, film and plot synopsis of The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, and Jack Hawkins. This was an entertaining story. Julie Summers, in her book The Colonel of Tamarkan, writes that Boulle, who had been a prisoner of war in Thailand, created the fictional Nicholson character as an amalgam of his memories of collaborating French officers. The two did not collaborate on the script; Wilson took over after Lean was dissatisfied with Foreman's work. The film is set in 1943, as the forces of Imperial Japan are tightening their hold on South East Asia. Visit Kitulgala during the peak season of January to March, as the climate is cooler and with less rainfall; it’s the ideal time to partake in a variety of water sports in the area. It was still highly unusual at that time for a television network to show such a long film in one evening; most films of that length were still generally split into two parts and shown over two evenings. The destruction of the bridge as depicted in the film is also entirely fictional. The four commandos parachute in, though one is killed on landing. The adventure war film The Bridge on the River Kwai may have swept the board of awards and attracted acclaim as one best films of the 20th century, but … Sri Lanka is to rebuild the replica bridge destroyed in an iconic scene from the film Bridge on the River Kwai, as part of a tourism drive. The novel was made into the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by David Lean, which won the 1957 Academy Award for Best Picture. Attention! When the bridge was built, the water beneath it was actually the Mae Klong River, although it did join the Khwae Noi River elsewhere. Thank God that I'm starting work tomorrow with an American actor (William Holden)."[13]. Thanks to the film, the Bridge, situated in the Thai town of Kanchanaburi a couple of hours drive from Bangkok, is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions. The Bridge on the River Kwai is an epic World War II film directed by David Lean and based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa. [37], The film was re-released in 1964 and earned a further estimated $2.6 million at the box office in the United States and Canada[38] but the following year its revised total US and Canadian revenues were reported by Variety as $17,195,000. The film won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 30th Academy Awards. David Lean himself also claimed that producer Sam Spiegel cheated him out of his rightful part in the credits since he had had a major hand in the script. [41], Roger Ebert gives the film four out of four stars. The filming location for Bridge on the River Kwai is today indicated by a discreet, rusted piece of metal on which directions to the area have been painted. You may not have heard of Kanchanaburi, but there’s a strong chance that you’re familiar with the 1957 Academy Award-winning dramatic film ‘The Bridge Over the River Kwai’, which was set there. In fact, two bridges were built: a temporary wooden bridge and a permanent steel/concrete bridge a few months later. Both bridges were used for two years, until they were destroyed by Allied bombing. The Bridge on The River Kwai. Two trains a day leave Bangkok Thonburi station (also known as Bangkok Noi) on the West side of the river in Bangkok, for Kanchanaburi then River Kwai Bridge … War film directed in 1958 by David Lean, and starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, James Donald, Sessue Hayakawa, André Morell, Geoffrey Horne, Peter Williams, John Boxer, Percy Herbert, Harold Goodwin, Ann Sears, Heihachiro Okawa… [30], Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey of the British Army was the real senior Allied officer at the bridge in question. However, cameraman Freddy Ford was unable to get out of the way of the explosion in time, and Lean had to stop filming. According to Columbia Pictures, they followed an all-new 4K digital restoration from the original negative with newly restored 5.1 audio. When the shipment failed to arrive in London, a worldwide search was undertaken. When he asks that their Japanese counterparts pitch in as well, a resigned Saito replies that he already gave the order. To the producers' horror, the film containers were found a week later on an airport tarmac in Cairo, sitting in the hot sun. The Colonel Bogey strain was accompanied by a counter-melody using the same chord progressions, then continued with film composer Malcolm Arnold's own composition, "The River Kwai March," played by the off-screen orchestra taking over from the whistlers, though Arnold's march was not heard in completion on the soundtrack. Under cover of darkness, Shears and Joyce plant explosives on the bridge towers. [33], The Bridge on the River Kwai was a massive commercial success. Desperate, he uses the anniversary of Japan's 1905 victory in the Russo-Japanese War as an excuse to save face and announces a general amnesty, releasing Nicholson and his officers and exempting them from manual labour. [34] According to Variety, the film earned estimated domestic box office revenues of $18,000,000[35] although this was revised downwards the following year to $15,000,000, which was still the biggest for 1958 and Columbia's highest-grossing film at the time. David Lean’s 1957 The Bridge On The River Kwai is an epic anti-war film. The Bridge on the River Kwai, British-American war film, released in 1957 and directed by David Lean, that was both a critical and popular success and became an enduring classic. [55], This article is about the film. The documentary itself was described by one newspaper reviewer when it was shown on Boxing Day 1974 (The Bridge on the River Kwai had been shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day 1974) as "Following the movie, this is a rerun of the antidote."[32]. Although the 1957 film was set on the Death Railway of Burma, where British PoWs built a real bridge over a real River Kwai in Thailand, it was filmed in Sri Lanka. [42] Ebert notes that the film is one of the few war movies that "focuses not on larger rights and wrongs but on individuals", but commented that the viewer is not certain what is intended by the final dialogue due to the film's shifting points of view. Bookmark the permalink. But the unusual move paid off for ABC—the telecast drew huge ratings with a record audience of 72 million[49] and a Nielsen rating of 38.3 and an audience share of 61%. Spike from the Burma Railroad. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a classic 1957 British-American war film based upon the 1952 novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. This entry was posted in Asia Travel, Movie Locations and tagged bridge on the river kwai, Bridge On The River Kwai filming locations, how to get to Peradeniya Botanic Gardens by local bus, kitulgala, Mount Lavinia Hotel, obi-wan kenobi, Things to do in Colombo, where was bridge on the river kwai filmed?. [33] Boulle had never been to the bridge. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. Some of the characters in the film use the names of real people who were involved in the Burma Railway. Bridge on the River Kwai was the highest-grossing film of 1957 and received overwhemingly positive reviews from critics. 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