Bridge on the River Kwai

The story in this film was loosely based on a true World War II incident, and the real-life character of Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey.  Toosey was one of a number of Allied POW’s, that was in charge of his men from late 1942 through May 1943 when they were ordered to build two Kwai River bridges in Burma (one of steel, one of wood), to help move Japanese supplies and troops from Bangkok to Rangoon.  The film was the number one box-office success of the year (the highest grossing film) and it won critical acclaim as well as receiving eight Academy Award nominations and seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Alec Guinness), Best Director, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (French novelist Pierre Boulle), Best Cinematography, Best Score, and Best Film Editing.

The largely fictitious plot describes the mistreatment of prisoners in the POW camp and how they tried to sabotage the construction of the bridge.  Construction of the bridge serves as a symbol of the preservation of professionalism and personal integrity to one prisoner, Colonel Nicholson, a proud perfectionist who was pitted against Colonel Saito, the warden of the Japanese POW camp.  There is a slight technical problem with the Bridge on the River Kwai, as it crosses a river, but not the River Kwai.  Pierre Boulle had never been there, although he knew about the ‘death railway’ where many British POW’s suffered horribly and died, that ran parallel to the River Kwae for many miles, and he assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just North of Kanchanaburi.  He was wrong and this became a problem for the Thais because thousands of tourists flocked to see the Bridge on the River Kwai, so they renamed the river so it would match the infamous bridge.

Without the help that the Japanese got from the POW’s this river may have been unbridgeable.  I always loved the whistling song ‘Colonel Bogey March’ which became the theme song from The Bridge on the River Kwai movie.

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #107 prompt – Unbridgeable.

16 thoughts on “Bridge on the River Kwai

  1. Solidarity has gotten a lot of people through a lot of intolerable conditions that wouldn’t have made it alone. What a strange thing about the people renaming their river to match a movie. Imperialism at its worst!

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  2. Movies catch popular imagination at times. Lately, we have a slogan ‘How’s the josh?’ (Josh means enthusiasm) being used by corporate and political leaders in meetings. The answer from the audience is ‘High, Sir!’. It originated from a movie which depicts a military operation.

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      1. As you already know…old movies…and tv shows are what I watch the most. I appreciate you bringing this one up. I’ve missed seeing it before.

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