The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

(On VHS, August 2000) There’s a lot to love about this film: The lush backdrops of the south-Asian jungle, the expensive sets, the great actors, the superb premise of wartime defiance by typically British soldiers forced to work for the Japanese. The script is very good for most of the film’s duration, presenting issues of ethics and conduct yet not browbeating anyone with them. All throughout the film, there’s a palpable sympathy with the bridge-building team, which makes things worse when the film decides that war is hell and that there can be no such thing as a fun wartime adventure. That’s when people start dying and the last-minute attempt to instil a Profound Message falls flat. Too bad, because the rest of the film is classic material.

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