Share

Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

The Bridge on the River Kwai Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport Japanese munitions. Nicholson refuses, despite all the various "persuasive" devices at Saito's disposal. Finally, Nicholson agrees, not so much to cooperate with his captor as to provide a morale-boosting project for the military engineers under his command. The colonel will prove that, by building a better bridge than Saito's men could build, the British soldier is a superior being even when under the thumb of the enemy. As the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that it will benefit the Japanese. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (William Holden), having escaped from the camp, agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British soldiers back to the camp to destroy Nicholson's bridge. Upon his return, Shears realizes that Nicholson's mania to complete his project has driven him mad. Filmed in Ceylon, Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary British filmmaker David Lean, and Best Actor for Guinness. It also won Best Screenplay for Pierre Boulle, the author of the novel on which the film was based, even though the actual writers were blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were given their Oscars under the table. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:December 18, 1957

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Pierre Boulle Best Screenplay 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Pierre Boulle Best Adapted Screenplay 1957 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Alec Guinness Best British Actor 1957 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Alec Guinness Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1957 Winner
National Board of Review Alec Guinness Best Actor 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Alec Guinness Best Actor 1957 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle Alec Guinness Best Actor 1957 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts David Lean Best Film - Any Source 1957 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association David Lean Best Director 1957 Winner
National Board of Review David Lean Best Director 1957 Winner
Directors Guild of America David Lean Best Director 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences David Lean Best Director 1957 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle David Lean Best Director 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jack Hildyard Best Cinematography 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Malcolm Arnold Best Score 1957 Winner
National Board of Review Sessue Hayakawa Best Supporting Actor 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sessue Hayakawa Best Supporting Actor 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sam Spiegel Best Picture 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Michael Wilson Best Adapted Screenplay 1957 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Carl Foreman Best Adapted Screenplay 1957 Winner

Cast

William Holden
as Shears
Alec Guinness
as Col. Nicholson
Jack Hawkins
as Maj. Warden
Sessue Hayakawa
as Col. Saito
Geoffrey Horne
as Lieutenant Joyce
James Donald
as Maj. Clipton
Andre Morell
as Col. Green
John Boxer
as Maj. Hughes
Percy Herbert
as Pvt. Grogan
Harold Goodwin
as Pvt. Baker
Henry Okawa
as Capt. Kanematsu

Crew

David Lean
Director
Sam Spiegel
Producer
Michael Wilson
Screenwriter
Carl Foreman
Screenwriter
Pierre Boulle
Book Author
Pierre Boulle
Screenwriter
Jack Hildyard
Cinematographer
Malcolm Arnold
Composer (Music Score)
Gus Agosti
First Assistant Director
Ted Sturgis
First Assistant Director
Peter Newbrook
Camera Operator
Stuart Freeborn
Makeup
George Partleton
Makeup
Advertisement