"The Bridge on the River Kwai" Throwback Review
The Bridge on the River Kwai brings a quality that has often been sorely lacking from war films: humanity. Few films about the world's greatest conflicts have been able to inspect the human spirit as well as David Lean's film.
Lean doesn't relish in the violence that war brings. Quite the contrary, he often cuts away from the gunshots and explosions, focusing on the wildlife and our relationship with it. It's quite a surprising move considering Lean had quite the combative personality and never spared anyone's feelings, especially those closest to him. Maybe it was because he had used all his humanity on his characters, leaving nothing left for the real world.
Apart from what's under the surface, Lean also fills his widescreen with visual wonder. The film moves at a steady pace, rotating between one magnificent set-piece after another. The storyline with William Holden's character may not work as well as Alec Guinness's, but it culminates in a suspenseful finale with one of the most well-acted, written, and directed sequences in all of cinema.