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Another war movie, this film follows some British soldiers who are prisoners of war, as they build a bridge for the Japanese in Thailand as part of the Thailand/Burma Railway.

First, near the beginning of the movie, the prisoners are whistling the Colonel Bogey March, which was stuck in my head for days. Gah. [Youtube if you want to share my earworm.]

Colonel Saito, the Japanese commander of the camp, announced to the British POWs that they will be building a bridge, and everyone, including the officers will do manual labour. The British commander, Colonel Nicholson, refuses, citing the Geneva Conventions prohibiting officers from doing manual labour. Saito doesn't take very kindly to this, and locks up the officers. Meanwhile, the enlisted men are doing quite a piss poor job of building the bridge, both from their desire to not help the enemy, and that the Japanese engineers aren't entirely up to snuff.

Eventually, Saito realizes that the plan is not working, and that the bridge won't be done by the deadline, and he will have to commit seppuku. After coming up with some silly reason to save face, he releases the officers. Nicholson, thinking it best for his soldiers if they can take pride in their work, has his best engineers redesign the bridge, and directs the soldiers to do it properly. Conditions improve for everyone.

Meanwhile, an American, Commander Shears, escapes from the camp, and eventually arrives in Ceylon, where he is convinced by the British army there to help them blow up the bridge under construction...

I quite enjoyed the acting, characterization and cinematography. Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson is quite well done, I felt. Also, this movie didn't overly play up the horrors of war (not a lot of killing or sickness), which after a whole slew of depressing movies, was a nice change. It was quite long, 2h40, but I must have enjoyed it cause it didn't feel nearly that long.

It was filmed on location in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which lends quite a bit of authenticity to the film. There are some quite beautiful scenes filmed within the jungle. The film went on to win 7 Oscars.
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October 2011

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