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1957 Oscar-winning movie starring Alec Guiness and William Holden
The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American epic war film directed by David Lean and based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwaï (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction that uses the historical setting of the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942-1943. The cast included William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa.

Cast and Crew

Alec GuinnessCol. Nicholson
William HoldenShears
David Leandirector

Video Products

The Bridge on the River Kwai [Blu-ray], 7 Jun 2011
The Bridge on the River Kwai, 21 Nov 2000
The Bridge on the River Kwai (Two-Disc Collector's Edition), 2 Nov 2010

Memorable Lines

Shears talking to Major Warden
Spoken after the injured Warden orders Shears to go on ahead without him
You make me sick with your heroics! There's a stench of death about you. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L-pills—they go well together, don't they? And with you it's just one thing or the other: destroy a bridge or destroy yourself. This is just a game, this war! You and Colonel Nicholson, you're two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman ... how to die by the rules—when the only important thing is how to live like a human being!


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    by Jon Osborne, Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video, 2001
Alec Guiness is brilliant as the British colonel who refuses to compromise. ... the ending is a bit depressing, but then it had to be to make [its] ultimately critical comment on the military mindset ('madness, madness ...' — as the last words spoken in the film suggest).
The Great Anti-War Films: The Bridge on the River Kwai, by Rick Gee, 23 Feb 2002
The film does a splendid job exposing the insanity of war by juxtaposing the madness of Nicholson and Saito with the war-weary cynicism of Shears, and setting up a final confrontation between those who built the bridge and those who would destroy it. Entertaining as it is thought provoking, The Bridge on the River Kwai is a timeless epic that exposes the futility and pointless death and destruction of war.


The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957
Trailer, includes scene of Shears talking to Major Warden about heroism, courage and living like a human being

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Bridge on the River Kwai" as of 11 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.