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Customer Review

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars simpler tastes for simpler times, but in a gorgeous setting, 28 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Bridge On The River Kwai [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
One of the most celebrated movies about WWII, carefully restored
to show the gorgeous cinematography. 5 stars for the magnificent
jungle shots, both the claustrophobic closeups (machete work
to make headway through bamboo thickets, attempting to detect
enemy soldiers in the all-obscuring foliage where visibility does
not extend much beyond a couple of feet, etc.) and the luscious
panoramic vistas of waterfalls, forest canopies, and even beaches.
But, by modern standards, no more than 2 stars for mostly 2-dimensional
characters; even the very British colonel (Alec Guiness) who directs
the building of the bridge and the more clownish (but ladies' man
for all that) lone American character (William Holden) remain cutouts
in spite of rather heavy-handed attempts by the director to suggest
some notions of moral complexity. The Japanese colonel in charge of
the prison camp is equally caricatural, a latter-day samurai frustrated
by the inadequacy of bushido philosophy when confronting the very
practical Brits.
I was a baby in 1957, and perhaps in those days simple characters
were still needed to help viewers get over the atrocities of the war;
and at least the movie is not completely manicheistic, since every character
is flawed, except perhaps for the "Siamese" locals (including a quartet
of implausibly pretty young female "porters"). But in today's terms,
the characters are more quaint than revealing and the movie comes across
as describing mythical lands and a mythical war, not anything connected
to the very real, bloody, and brutal WWII.
The only part of the movie that feels real is the nearly complete neglect
of women, relegated to cute nurses and these implausible porters; the men,
on the other hand, predictably behave as any frat boys would...
Worth watching for the spectacular scenery and the indomitably British
Alec Guiness (stiff upper lip and all that), but not a great movie.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Aug 2011 13:22:11 BDT
Triestino says:
"But in today's terms, the characters are more quaint than revealing and the movie comes across as describing mythical lands and a mythical war, not anything connected to the very real, bloody, and brutal WWII."

Oh come, now! Were you fast asleep during the episode when the officers of the battalion were put in "ovens"? And what about the ending? Bridge on the River Kwai has its faults (mainly to do with the ambiguity of the message that the novel was trying to convey) but lack of authenticity isn't one of them. Nor is woodenness of characterization. A film about the Second World War that is not entirely American and that doesn't adhere to the new rule that exactly 50 percent of the characters of all films must be female may be repugnant to some, but do try to see the film without the gift of hindsight, and try also - just for an hour or so - to transpose yourself into a non-American culture. That way, you will find that the film works, despite its flaws.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2013 17:19:57 GMT
I agree with Triestino. The review is an insult to those of us born before 1957!
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Review Details

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Reviewer

B. Moret
(REAL NAME)   

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,769,987