The Bridge on the River Kwai
One of my on-line friends , in answer to a poll question concerning what movies are best on the big screen, answered “None”. He believes that a movie isn’t very good if it has to be experienced in a theater. Here is exhibit A in the case against this ridiculous claim. Movies were made for theaters not for TV screens, and the framing, cinematography, and spectacle can sometimes best be appreciated when it is thirty feet tall and seventy feet wide. “David Lean” is the answer to any of your friends who have a similar opinion.
I’ve seen The Bridge on the River Kwai maybe a dozen times in my life. I own a beautiful Laserdisc edition. This however was the first time I think I have seen it on a big screen, and this was in the main theater at the famed home of Grauman’s (now TCL). The expansiveness of the jungle can be appreciated more on the big screen. The Bridge itself, both as it is being completed and destroyed is much more impressive on the giant screen in this theater. The climax of the film looks more impressive and the madness of the characters involved is more completely noticeable as two of the principles lie in the foreground of the destruction.
It was the 60th anniversary of the films release and our host was Alex Trebeck, the quiz master of “Jeopardy”. He shared the familiar story of how two blacklisted screenwriters were deprived of their credits for the film, which won the award for screenplay. The Award was given in 1958 to the author of the book, of whom one of the screenwriters said, “At least he had the good grace to not appear at the Awards to accept.”.
William Holden manages to be even better in the film than I remembered, but it is Alec Guinness who really stands out and clear deserved to honor bestowed on him that year. The cast looks incredibly emaciated in the early parts of the film. It was probably as accurate as you could get without being accused of deliberately mistreating the actors. The battle of wills that dominates the first part of the movie is both tragic and comic. Col. Nichols remained dryly sardonic in spite of the hardships he had to endure. A Great Film in a great venue.