Director: David Lean
Screenplay: Carl Foreman (Uncredited Originally) and Michael Wilson (Uncredited originally) based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
I know some war historians, professional and amateur who bring up such things as the real prisoners-of-war in the movie having built numerous bridges and built them everyday, as they got destroyed everyday. But, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" isn't war, it's a movie. And it's not about the mundane activity of building a bridge per se, it's about how these soldiers built this bridge. At least that's what I remembered.
Yet none of this matters if the film doesn't look and feel real. They build a real bridge in the middle of the jungle just to blow it up. There were epics before, scenes that amaze us, but many of them were on sound stage. You burn the sets from "King Kong" and you got the burning of Atlanta in "Gone with the Wind", but "The Bridge on the River Kwai" looks and feels like another world, both real in the location and surreal in the actions of the characters, a combination that can only happen in the military, but it's also one that has to be found and not simply created. This combination hadn't been shown on film before and rarely has such an accomplishment, both as a piece of entertainment, and as a cinematic accomplishment been seen since. It won seven Oscars including Best Picture, as well as every other accolade it seems to be able to get, only Hayakawa's Supporting Actor nomination lost that year, to Red Buttons's performance in "Sayonara", a more traditional military sprawling Hollywood epic, about Japan that was shot mostly in America and is nowadays mostly forgotten. Shame that was Hayakawa's only Oscar nomination for one of the first major Asia stars in Hollywood. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is a masterful example of every part of the filmmaking process and proof that we'll never stop whistling the Colonel Bogey March and it will probably never leave your mind after hearing it whistled so much.
Madness. The madness of war, the madness of filmmaking, just pure madness.