The Bridge on the River KwaiThe Bridge on the River Kwai is a novel by Pierre Boulle, published in 1954, which won the French Prix Ste Beuve. It dramatizes the plight of Allied prisoners of war forced to build the 258-mile Death Railway.
A film based on the movie appeared in 1957. The film portrays a group of British captives in a Japanese POW camp forced to build a railway bridge. It was directed by David Lean, and stars Alec Guinness, William Holden, and Jack Hawkins. It was shot in Sri Lanka and England.
The story is based on a real event, the building in 1942 of a railway bridge in the Thai town of Kanchanaburi. This was part of a project to link existing Thai and Burmese railway lines to create a route from Bangkok, Thailand to Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) to support the Japanese occupation of Burma. About a hundred thousand conscripted Asian labourers and 16,000 prisoners of war died on the whole project, which was nicknamed the Death Railway. The plot of the film is built around the destruction of the wooden bridge. In reality, a parallel steel bridge was added a few months after the wooden bridge was completed. Both were destroyed by the allies, the steel bridge first. The steel bridge has been repaired and is still in use.
One memorable part of the movie is the tune which is whistled by the POW's—the "Colonel Bogey March"—which has become associated with the movie.
The film won seven Oscars:
- Academy Award for Best Picture - Sam Spiegel, producer
- Academy Award for Best Actor - Alec Guinness
- Academy Award for Best Cinematography - Jack Hildyard
- Academy Award for Directing - David Lean
- Best Film Editing - Peter Taylor
- Best Music, Scoring - Malcolm Arnold
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Pierre Boulle - Carl Foreman - Michael Wilson
- Sessue Hayakawa was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.