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The Bridge on the River Kwai
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The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957
Drama
Adventure
2h 41m
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.(imdb)
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The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957
Drama
Adventure
2h 41m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 72.73% from 4399 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(4399)
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Rated 19 Mar 2007
94
92nd
The Bridge on the River Kwai is an excellent war movie that really isn't about war at all, but rather a situation devised by one. Alec Guiness puts on one of the great performances of his career and leads the way with William Holden in this all-time great classic.
Rated 19 Mar 2007
90
97th
One of the best war films I've seen. The pitting of man's creative impulse against his desire to destroy is absolutely compelling, as is the conflict between pride and survival. Guinness delivers an outstanding performance and Lean's direction is similarly excellent.
Rated 15 Aug 2007
95
96th
Lean, Guiness, World War 2, three of my favorite things. Bridge on the River Kwai is fantastic. If your looking for blood you won't find much here, but one thing you will find, is one hell of a finale. This is essential viewing, and if you dont like long run times, all you gotta remember is David Lean directed, and you will not be dissapointed. Guinness turns in a marvelous performance, as well as Hayakawa. The ending however, made me jump in ways most movies haven't. Watch, This, Film.
Rated 09 Feb 2007
5
93rd
Beginning of the second split in Lean's filmography, when he shifted to large epics, and one of the great anti-war films. The analogous rigidities in the English spirit and Japanese code are folly in the jungle, where the necessity of survival leaves little room for vain principles. I like to think of this film as somewhat proto-Herzogian, for its characters who are dedicated to the point of absurdity, and for its incredibly real depictions of toil against the rugged terrain.
Rated 07 Mar 2007
5
91st
One of the great adventure films and my favorite World War II pic (it was my favorite war pic, period, until Apocalypse Now came along). The movie is highlighted by a fascinating clash of egos between Guinness and Hayakawa, who both turn in fantastic performances, but the movie is uniformly excellent and thrilling throughout in spite of its 160 minute runtime. Nobody does epic quite like David Lean. The finale is one of the most exciting sequences in movie history; it will take your breath away.
Rated 07 Aug 2007
9
90th
A scathing anaylsis of the absurdity of war, a meditation on the conflict between principle and survival, an excellent portayal of man's will to overcome oppression by subtle methods of pride in one's duty, and an incredible cinematic endeavor all in one.
Rated 20 Oct 2008
100
98th
The greatest three hours ever. I don't know how to describe how epic and powerful the experience is on you. Just watch it, and you'll see what I mean.
Rated 21 Nov 2020
100
97th
It's easy to look at a David Lean film and just admire his ability to craft epic productions. And that makes sense, given this film's painterly photography, detailed sets, and fantastic action sequence. But that overlooks his great skill at working with story & actors. The recurring theme of internalizing values holds up to this day. As does his ability to get great performances from actors of different backgrounds (English, American, Japanese). On every rewatch you can learn new things.
Rated 04 Feb 2007
85
73rd
Good stuff, good stuff. I can understand the ire of the British military who felt that the movie unfairly made them out to be more stubborn and foolish than, for instance, the much more sensible American guy in the prison camp. I don't think it's necessarily all that unrealistic, though. Alec Guinness plays his part to the point of perfection.
Rated 01 Apr 2007
92
97th
Yet another beautifully shot Lean film, you can see the care he took in every shot. Guiness and Holden are terrific and provide a very good contrast of the different views on war, motivation and personal dedication.
Rated 08 Jul 2007
94
96th
It may lag and take its time, but by the time the last scene starts to unfold, the realization that it is a brilliant film takes hold of you.
Rated 20 Feb 2022
92
92nd
What Lean does better than anyone else with a ‘Scope frame is somehow use the huge canvas to obscure what you want to see while also leading you towards what he does. The story, as my wife would undoubtedly say, is all Macho Patriarchy Bullshit Posturing but it’s a film not built on the foundations of war as we think it but on honor and subtle social mores that distract men from their mission and sides from reconciliation. In that mold it evolves from an anti-war movie to a beyond-war movie.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
97
98th
One of the all time greatest movies. If you're from my generation you hear, "Sir Alec Guinness" and you think "Obi Wan Kenobi". This is a tragedy. His performance here so outshines Star Wars it is unfathomable. This is one of the best war films ever as well. Don't take my word for it, please go rent it! This should be on everyones top-10 list. (200th review!!!)
Rated 09 Mar 2010
9
95th
The ego battle between Saito & Nicholson is fascinating to watch, two principled men, both as stubborn and ruthless as each other. But it's more than that, that's just the framework. There's a real sense of adventure, that builds up until the grand finale, as a third party (also British) comes to attempt to blow up the bridge. But for all the principles, and intentions of man, some getting what they want, albeit only briefly, the tradedy and nihilism of war take it all away in one fell swoop.
Rated 10 Jun 2010
3
80th
The finale would be a throwaway moment in any action film, but here it's tense and a huge dramatic release. The film's been building up to that moment over its intense length and it pays off in spades, especially since the audience is never tipped to root for either party. All three characters here are sympathetic, and yet all three of them are in their own way in the wrong - Nicholson with his stiff upper-lip act, Saito's war crimes and sense of honour, and Shears' cowardice and thievery.
Rated 26 Jan 2013
90
97th
Could Alex Guiness possibly be more awesome? This and 'Brief Encounter' are my favorite Lean productions.
Rated 02 Dec 2008
10
98th
More masterful stuff from Lean. One of the best endings I've seen and it makes up for it dragging at parts. Great acting all around...watch this!
Rated 03 Feb 2009
95
80th
The jungle trek takes away from the escapist and delusionary madness surrounding Guinness's, Hayakawa's, and Holden's characters, but it is entirely necessary to build towards a deeply felt tragedy contrasted with the (intentionally) inappropriate upbeat military march that it's know for.
Rated 28 May 2009
85
89th
At times, sadly, overdone, but on the whole it's a completely enveloping and wildly captivating film, with some great acting. The camera work is impressive and it was certainly funded appropriately. It could have done with a little more action and been a little more condensed, but regardless it's an amazing movie worthy of the praise and acclaim it has recieved.
Rated 28 Dec 2009
96
97th
One of the best endings I have seen. David Lean delivers a masterpiece showcasing larger than life, but always believable and very human personalities. He overpowers with masterful use of dramatic irony. I had many doubts about this film, but in the end (literally, at the end of the film) I was convinced of this film's greatness. A must-see. The film does tend to unnecessarily drag on at times, but perhaps it was necessary to attain the full effect. Also, the story is inaccurate, but who cares?
Rated 01 Jan 2010
4
96th
One of the strongest tools in storytelling is that of putting the hero in a dilemma, but Bridge trumps that by putting the audience into a dilemma. The power play between Guinness and Hayakawa is masterful, and Holden's character adds a much needed shot in the arm to the entirety of the picture. I really cannot find a single complaint about it--the photography is truly stunning.
Rated 01 Mar 2007
65
73rd
Classic war movie.
Rated 01 Mar 2007
97
88th
Simply put, a classic.
Rated 26 Mar 2007
97
98th
This is my favorite David Lean film. There are, of course, the adventure sequences, but the truly memorable parts of the film involve Guinness' internal and external conflicts, Sessue Hayakawa's struggles between his mind and his country, and the obliviousness of the special forces team. I can hardly think of a more fitting (or timeless) conclusion to a movie. Nothing short of brilliant.
Rated 02 May 2007
75
74th
William Holden's performance doesn't quite fit in with the naturalistic ones from Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. But dear God, the ending is wonderfully insane.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
87th
David Lean's precursor to Lawrence of Arabia is funny and is an amazing study of culture clash (British v. Japanese, British v. American).
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
92nd
An excellent classic movie. Excellent acting, excellent story, excellent visuals. Sir Alec Guiness owns this role. A definate must see!
Rated 14 Aug 2007
95
97th
classic, can't not whistle!
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
81st
Makes me yearn for a good modern day war movie.
Rated 05 Apr 2012
80
78th
The two stories is in my opinion a bit out of balance, but still it's a great film. Guiness does a great performance and the "battle" between him and the japanese officer is truly entertaining.
Rated 06 Apr 2021
90
92nd
I can't wait until I am 70, when I can lean back in my recliner, and let this film wash over me. For an epic, it is more of a character study, and the film parallels the experiences of two soldiers in Guinness and Holden. It is also neat that the first hour, it has you sympathize with Guinness, but as the film progresses, you realize how much of his plight was from his own ego and not a selfless nationalism that he claims.
Rated 13 Feb 2009
81
84th
Great and refreshing war movie, where Alec Guinness puts down an excellent performance as a British colonel standing up to his captor to keep his pride and honor. Great film in general.
Rated 23 Mar 2009
80
80th
Historically quite inaccurate. Ok, but still a classic film. The music is also very memorable.
Rated 03 Apr 2009
92
85th
Bridge on the River Kwai is pretty much everything you could dream for in a film. It's a sprawling epic buoyed by terrific performances and a wonderful screenplay, and I'd say the whole package is better, much better, than Lawrence of Arabia. The last moments of the film are as tense and brilliant as only this era could deliver.
Rated 03 Jun 2010
85
88th
A brilliant tale about obsession and pride, and my second favourite 'whisling' movie of all time.
Rated 08 Sep 2010
79
94th
Guinness is so excellent in his role here. His acting, along with Lean's directing and palpable levels of dramatic irony, help create a masterful film with deep themes about the point of war, courage, pride, and destruction.
Rated 11 Sep 2010
90
92nd
I wasn't too keen on it in the first act, but after Alec Guinness got out of the little shack, I became more and more engrossed, especially as Saito became a much more complex character. If anything, the antagonist of the film was not a person, but merely the presence of pride; in the end it fucks everybody over. The climax was brilliantly composed; the slow crescendo of the train's sounds amongst the growing series of clusterfucks was thoroughly effective. I got chills.
Rated 25 Sep 2010
85
90th
My only gripe is the pacing. Better editing and this would be closer to perfection.
Rated 11 Oct 2010
90
94th
Beautiful cinematography but most importantly brilliantly crafted characters with skilled actors to bring them to life.
Rated 21 Apr 2011
97
99th
Madness!
Rated 15 Jul 2011
70
72nd
A perfect final act doesn't completely nullify the merely average first 2 hours, which definitely plod along. Great example of a film whose reputation is built almost solely on its stunning finale.
Rated 25 Jan 2018
90
95th
Guinness and everything that happens on the bridge is glorious cinema. Pride, duty, and obsession are beautifully played out. The secondary story is much less interesting and, often, a bit of chore. Still, David Lean's lens is one of the most vibrant and impressive to date.
Rated 09 Apr 2012
67
53rd
It's a movie I recognize as great, but I was still bored through most of it. I love Guinness, the ending, and the way it addresses the themes of pride and war. With so much greatness, I hate that I didn't love it more.
Rated 28 May 2016
85
80th
A slow burner. They'll build that bridge eventually
Rated 26 Feb 2007
80
93rd
Few films underline the futility of war and the resiliency of the human spirit better.
Rated 26 Mar 2007
100
95th
One of the great adventure films
Rated 26 Mar 2016
85
87th
Somewhat slow at first but the build is superb and the ending is a great payoff. There are some moments I didn't like, but they are few and far between. Definitely worth a watch if you have the time.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
70
77th
Taken literally, it seems impossible to imagine that such a character could really pursue such an approach in such a situation, so that the whole thing seems to be making a straw-man argument, on the basis of an utterly fanciful version of what life and death were like while working on the Burma railway. Even so, it’s about as good as this type of Hollywood thing can get.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
96th
One of the shortest long movies there is, the storytelling clips along and the acting is top notch
Rated 29 Apr 2014
96
86th
Breathtaking!
Rated 03 Sep 2007
94
98th
This is the most human world war two story I have ever seen on film. If you want to watch a serious movie that leaves you feeling satisfied I would recommend this one.
Rated 16 Sep 2007
80
89th
very good film
Rated 24 Oct 2007
100
98th
This movie almost made me never want to see another movie again. Nothing could measure up. Brilliant.
Rated 31 Jul 2012
4
91st
Surprisingly complex and immensely enjoyable movie about doing the right thing, whatever the consequences.
Rated 02 Jan 2008
90
95th
A compelling film with stunning performances from Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins. Deeply moving and thought provoking on one level and a cracking good story on another. Splendid and stunning panoramas and camera work make this a visually impressive piece which still holds up to today's standards.
Rated 24 Feb 2008
95
95th
Masterpiece.
Rated 25 Feb 2008
80
64th
one of the classics which everyone should see.
Rated 30 Dec 2012
90
95th
A really powerful movie with a fantastic first half and a killer ending. It just blew me away. Yes it has its flaws like being slow at parts, but the time did fly by. What an achievement. Madness
Rated 11 Mar 2008
92
61st
Excellent, though sad.
Rated 27 Jun 2008
95
87th
one of my all time classics
Rated 18 Jul 2016
94
98th
If you are looking for historical accuracy, move along. If you are looking for some pretty entertaining if not "light" lessons on pride and their effects during wartime with a stellar cast thrown in, this is probably the movie you are looking for. It's wonderfully directed, the irony and foolishness of the situation is always on point, even the score was good, and I normally am not a fan of the overly dramatic use of music from the era.
Rated 12 Apr 2014
86
94th
An exceptional, if mostly fictitious, war drama. David Lean is at the very top of his game in this one and he'll only surpass this level a few years later with the phenomenal Lawrence of Arabia. The cast is equally formidable, with an Alec Guinness - the cream of the crop - displaying what is perhaps the finest work of his career.
Rated 24 Dec 2008
90
79th
A classic. William Holden is good, but Guinness steals the show. Great war movie.
Rated 02 Jan 2009
74
81st
Obi Wan during some of his most trying times during the Clone Wars. His Jedi mind tricks come in very handy against the weak minded but even he is not prepared for every eventuality.
Rated 11 Jan 2009
100
98th
Pure cinema.
Rated 03 Apr 2009
91
98th
Great Movie
Rated 26 Dec 2012
95
83rd
well directed
Rated 10 Apr 2009
100
93rd
Ironic adventure epic with many fine moments but too many centres of interest and an unforgivably confusing climax. It is distinguished by Guinness's portrait of the English CO. The physical detail of the production is beyond criticism.
Rated 11 Apr 2009
92
95th
"... what have I done?"
Rated 12 May 2012
85
73rd
A wonderful blockbuster with characters. Alec Guinness is marvelous to watch.
Rated 04 Jun 2018
60
69th
Interesting and entertaining old school epic. For me, better than "Lawrence of Arabia".
Rated 17 Jun 2009
97
93rd
Films aren't often made this good. Really...if you want to spend your time well, set aside about three hours for the next rainy day...sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a lot of energy and sit and watch this puppy straight through. It is amazing.
Rated 18 Jun 2009
75
54th
Should've been great: Alec Guinness, Pierre Boulle, Michael Wilson, David Lean. Instead it drags incessantly. I won't argue its brilliance, I just think about an hour and a half could be cut out.
Rated 10 Oct 2019
9
98th
Brilliant - beautifully filmed and strong performances poses some great questions about the nature of duty and pride.
Rated 01 Aug 2009
88
94th
Typical David Lean. Just full of class.
Rated 14 Jan 2023
72
62nd
Would be better if they just let Alec Guinness fuck the bridge like he so obviously wanted to
Rated 08 Jun 2019
100
84th
Classic.
Rated 29 Oct 2009
90
94th
Greatest masterpiece of David Lean!
Rated 11 Nov 2009
80
50th
Great war flick that shows a lot of the intricacies of war and being a prisoner of war. Acting is top notch. However it drags a bit in more than a few places because David Lean likes those long drawn out sequences where not much (or nothing) is happening. I know that's his signature, but he hadn't quite perfected it yet as he does in Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago.
Rated 12 Nov 2009
84
49th
While the scenes in the POW camp are masterful, the plot involving the commandos sent to destroy the bridge distracts, even if it does lead up to one of the greatest and most tense climaxes I've seen.
Rated 18 Dec 2009
87
93rd
Great and refreshing war movie, where Alec Guinness puts down an excellent performance as a British colonel standing up to his captor to keep his pride and honor. Great film in general.
Rated 25 Dec 2009
93
91st
A rare epic that is also an absorbiing personal story. Guinness and Hayakawa are wonderful here and Holden is pretty good too.
Rated 05 Oct 2020
95
87th
Jolly good show.
Rated 30 Mar 2010
68
70th
Col. Nicholson's foolhardy, then complacent orderliness spices up a literate but otherwise ordinary "feel good" war movie script. The comparatively easy conditions in camp, tolerance and leniency shown by Japanese captors toward unruly captives are an affront to history. Actual slaving by the Japanese was atrocious. Lean (the producers' umpteenth choice to direct, with Ford, Hawks, Zinneman, Wyler etc. unattainable) and the good cast made this movie far better than it should have been.
Rated 11 Nov 2010
75
73rd
A story about the place of honourable humanity inside the cage of war and imprisonment. Unimpeachably vivid.
Rated 30 Aug 2014
91
92nd
Alec Guiness delivers one of the best actings of cinema.
Rated 15 Oct 2012
92
94th
*whistling Colonel Bogey's March* I've popped my 'Lean' cherry with this film on bluray - can it get any better? Absolutely outstanding. I don't know when I'll want to go back and rewatch this again in its entirety, but there's so many classic moments! The acting here is fantastic, the movie looks beautiful, the progression of the film is logical and all characters are completely believable.
Rated 14 Jan 2011
76
10th
A beautifully-shot film I was fortunate enough to experience on the big screen during a brief run of the digital print alongside its release on blu-ray. Alec Guinness is marvelous, but the rest of the film limped along for me.
Rated 09 Feb 2011
94
97th
Great movie. Epic, exciting, and profound. The story was perfectly paced. And I loved the performances, especially by Guinness. I was on pins and needles during the last five minutes. Really exciting stuff pulled off by expert film making.
Rated 11 Apr 2012
92
96th
So they started to build this bridge on the River Kwai, then they changed the location of the bridge to a different part of the River Kwai, finally the bridge on the River Kwai was built and then eventually the bridge they had built on the River Kwai was blown up. I think the film was called: The Bridge That Couldn't Be Built.
Rated 02 Aug 2012
95
91st
Overstretched length aside, this is an absolute masterpiece with a brilliant amount of depth and symbolism. The film is beautifully shot and the acting (especially from Alec Guiness) is spot on. The final scene is possibly the most amazing in all cinema. Haunting and breathtaking.
Rated 16 Jun 2011
85
83rd
Fantastic older movie - definitely watch the HD colorized version if you can find it!
Rated 29 Jun 2011
80
85th
"The Bridge on the River Kwai" is a nuanced, compelling and extremely well-crafted epic that probably falls under the category of films I admire more than I like. Indeed, there are many admirable things here: Lean's grand scope and skillful helming, Guinness' iconic performance, the well-drawn characterizations and the exquisitely put together climax. There are some drawbacks such as the exhausting runtime and the vexing, overwrought score but are mostly overcome by the film's other assets.
Rated 20 Oct 2011
40
97th
"The Bridge on the River Kwai is David Lean's last film not to succumb to bloat." - Christian Blauvelt
Rated 13 Oct 2018
70
53rd
Colonel Nicholson: "What have I done?"
Rated 20 Aug 2015
95
63rd
The Bridge on the River Kwai starts by taking us to the remote Japanese Prisoner or War camp where a fresh batch of English soldiers are being moved in. Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) runs the unit who have to work under Colonel Saito (Hayakawa) as the men are going to be made to build the Bridge of the River Kwai, the camp has no boundaries but escape would see the soldiers head in the a jungle environment with little chance of surviving. Shears (Holden) has been involved in the camp building the
Rated 03 Dec 2011
28
92nd
VHS recording seen on a 20-inch TV, yet it was still a brilliant, bitter, bitter, caustic, darkly funny satire and condemnation of war.
Rated 14 Aug 2013
55
36th
Dull. And very far from my 96-PSI here. Alec Guinness does it again, but his honor-crusade is a bit too far from credibility. And the whole dilemma with the British both wanting to build and destroy the bridge leaves little role for the Japanese. I mean, where are the Japanese in this? Nowhere!
Rated 26 Sep 2019
90
92nd
Very humane and thoughtfully written story of POWs, with particular attention given to the contrasting principles of the British colonel and the POW camp commander. Like most good genre films, particular war films, has a main message that differs from its contemporaries. Extraordinarily tense climax, and since I'm a fan of delicious ironies, they just made it all the more better.
Rated 16 Jan 2012
85
95th
Given that this film is quite long and that it's a war film (which I'm not always keen on), I wasn't sure I'd enjoy watching this. However, this didn't end up being a problem. It was mostly slow-moving but never boring. It had some good things to say about humanity, rules, morality and so on in the time of war. And the ending was fantastic.

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