Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Bridge on the River Kwai 1958

It is good to revisit this film, among the two most celebrated by the director. Two things once again are of greatest impact: the portraiture of Colonel Nicholson, a military commander beloved of his men, inflexible in his commitment to principle, in the face of certain death; and the breath taking cinematography of the tropical jungles in SE Asia, the theater of the Anglo -Japanese war. The drama of the first half, culminating in the breaking of the Japanese commander Saito, in the tussle of wills, is far more interesting. The second part meanders somewhat into an involved essay on the contradictoriness of war. It is an intimate portrayal of the jungle,: towering bamboos, ancient trees of majestic girth and sprawling roots, waterfalls and rivers, a million birds noisily dispersing in the sky. Nicholson himself pushes the plunger to blow up the bridge he has so lovingly constructed. But that is no matter, since the bridge is an edifice of human spirit, more than a thing to be used. In fact, there is perfect poetic symmetry in the conclusion..


Seongyong Cho said...

And, as reflected by its final scene, it is also about the human madness, and I remember well the moment Nicholson suddenly realizes his situation after having been totally blinded by his determination: "What have I done?"

S. M. Rana said...

But the bridge had already served its purpose of preserving the morale of prisoners and enacting a unique human drama of co-operation cutting across warring armies.