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Parents' Guide to

The Bridge on the River Kwai

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Epic of WWII honor and sacrifice gone haywire.

Movie PG 1957 161 minutes
The Bridge on the River Kwai Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 11+

Kids liked it, skipped some parts

Parents should know that there are several scenes with sexual overtones. There's an old pin up calendar prominently featured in several scenes and several swimming-with-the-natives scenes and attraction between the Thai women who are assisting (by force?) the commando party and also POW camp party with dancers.
2 people found this helpful.
age 11+

A bit outdated in its portrayals although Holden and Guinness are standouts.

A film that is set up for epic grandeur. Holden is affable and Guinness is watchable, and the film takes its time getting to the end. The Japanese are given short shrift by the end so much so that they seem inconsequential. The film in many ways feels lopsided in its story structure, and the representation of each group starts to feel a bit of a slog. Lean's work here is not my favorite, although the shots are well organized and they show off the bridge and the film location. The depiction of all the interested parties has not aged well and thus is a difficult film to recommend since it is also largely fictional in the events it portrays.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (15 ):

Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this might be one of the finest war films of all time. Though based on a real-life WWII incident, the devastating story is really about what constitutes military duty and "honor" -- and how they can be twisted into disloyalty and dastardly treachery. While not explicitly bloody, there's a downbeat ending and a final one-word line of dialogue that sums up the whole thing: "Madness!"

There is an abundance of excitement in The Bridge on the River Kwai (the last 20 minutes are excruciatingly tense), but well-acted minefields of issues and thoughtfulness are what make this a formidable arsenal. This is a war movie about ideas, not just blowing things up -- but in the end, both those attributes turn into the same thing, in an example of the usually noble concepts of battlefield chivalry and obedience taken to extremes.

Movie Details

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