“The Bridge on the River Kwai” is not what generally comes to mind when you think of a WWII epic. Instead of tanks, air raids and gun battles, this film focuses on the Prisoner of War camps where soldiers were forced into labor and unjust punishment. I loved the content of the film but 2 hours and 40 minutes was way too long to tell this story. Everything develops so slowly that it becomes difficult to stay focused. It is celebrated as one of the greatest films of all time but I can’t find any reason that this film should have beat “Twelve Angry Men” for the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. I don’t even think that it is as good as “Witness for the Prosecution,” another Best Picture nominee from 1957. Still, Alec Guinness puts on an Oscar-winning performance and several of the film’s iconic scenes have etched their imprint onto cinema history. I feel nostalgic during the “Colonel Bogey March” sequence, the hot box scene is very raw, and the “What have I done?” concluding scene is excellent. Even though this movie came out 20 years before “Star Wars,” it is hard to watch Guinness without thinking about Obi-Wan Kenobi the entire time. Ironically, I believe his Oscar-nominated “Star Wars” performance to be better than his performance in this film. I would even go as far to say that Charles Laughton, Henry Fonda, and Lee J. Cobb were all more deserving of the 1957 Oscar. The acting in this film is good but the scenery, cinematography, and screenplay are what you will remember. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” is a significant part of cinema history but its legacy is tainted by several other films of its era that contain superior acting and dialogue.
[Pictured: The film is long, but its worth watching the entire thing for this surprising conclusion]