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Posted on Nov 28, 2007 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Hollywood Got It Wrong

By Wyatt Kingseed

1.jpgThe Bridge on the River Kwai – 1957 by David Lean

Lean’s masterpiece tells the story of the construction by British prisoners of a bridge over the Kwai River to support the Japanese occupation of Burma during World War II. An escaped prisoner joins a squad of commandos sent to blow up the structure. It’s got great acting, a great script, and a dramatic, explosive ending, which all worked to secure the film seven Academy Awards, including ones for Best Film and Best Director.

The bridge was indeed destroyed, but not as depicted in the film. The commando raid through the stifling jungle—an all but impossible mission—never happened. Instead, Allied planes took out the bridge and in much less dramatic fashion than Lean foisted on the public. No train tumbled head-first into the river.


If one can excuse Lean for creating the film’s two main protagonists out of whole cloth—Japanese Colonel Saito and British Colonel Nicholson—to symbolize the courage and determination of the real men involved, the climax was hardly necessary to convey the message uttered by another character in the film: war is “madness.”

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