The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai

David Lean (1957)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Few Second World War films are as enduring as this multi-Oscar-winning examination of the stiff upper lip from director David Lean. Alec Guinness plays Colonel Nicholson, the epitome of British dignity and resolve who, after brutal treatment at the hands of his Japanese captors in Burma, leads his men in the building of a strategically vital railway bridge for the enemy as an exercise in keeping up their - and his - morale. This is interesting enough, but the ironies of war are further pointed up by the subplot in which wily American escapee William Holden is dispatched back into the jungle to blow up said bridge. The central performances are all first rate, including Sessue Hayakawa as the Japanese commander, but it's Guinness who stands out, imbuing Nicholson with a brand of pride, patriotism and courage that speaks of another age. The film was adapted from Pierre Boulle's novel by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who went uncredited at the time as they were blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings.


A British colonel in a Japanese PoW camp is ordered to build a railway bridge over a river, forging a vital communications link. At first he refuses to obey, but eventually agrees to take the project on - and becomes so obsessed with the task that he creates a dilemma for an American soldier sent to destroy the structure. David Lean's Oscar-winning Second World War drama, starring Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins.

Cast & Crew

Shears William Holden (2)
Colonel Nicholson Alec Guinness
Major Warden Jack Hawkins
Colonel Saito Sessue Hayakawa
Major Clipton James Donald
Lieutenant Joyce Geoffrey Horne
Colonel Green André Morell
Captain Reeves Peter Williams (1)
Major Hughes John Boxer
Grogan Percy Herbert
Baker Harold Goodwin (2)
Nurse Ann Sears
Director David Lean
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourAvailable on: video, DVD and Blu-ray