‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ opens Film Club season

February 20, 2013

Described as “one of the greatest films of all time” by the United States Congress National Film Library, “The Bridge On The River Kwai” makes a perfect start to the North West Theatre Company Film Club’s 2013 program of special movies. It screens at the Roxy Theatre this Sunday at 4pm.

Although made 56 years ago, this film has stood the test of time and remains one of the great classics. Directed by David Lean, who went on to direct such masterpieces as “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “Doctor Zhivago” (1965), “Ryans Daughter” (1970) and “A Passage to India” (1984), this film scooped the pool at the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Alec Guinesss), Best Screenplay, Best Music, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography.

The cast includes Sir Alec Guiness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa and James Donald. With the backdrop for the film being the infamous Thailand-Burma Railway in 1942, it tells the story of how a British Commander Lt. Colonel Nicholson (Guiness), following a harrowing stand-off with the Japanese Camp Commander, devises a way of maintaining discipline and dignity within his battalion, and his subsequent slide into obsession. It is an absorbing storyline.

While the film is a work of fiction, it borrows clearly from the horrendous events of 1942-43, when the Japanese invaders set out to build a 415 kilometre railway between Bangkok and Rangoon (now Myanmar) in Burma.

Forced labour was used in its construction. About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 allied POW’s died as a direct result of the hardships they were forced to endure. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians and New Zealanders.
“The Bridge on the River Kwai” runs for 2hours, 35 minutes, and is highly recommended.

How to join the Film Club
The NWTC Film Club makes membership available on an annual and temporary basis, but joining for the year is strongly recommended for the 12 films, which screen on the last Sunday of each month at 4pm. This makes the price per film only $5. For visitors and temporary members admission is $10. The club is required to work on a subscription-only basis to qualify for discounted screening rates.

New members can join at the Roxy on Sunday from 3 pm, or, if they want to beat the rush, can organize it during the week at Bingara Information Centre, or by contacting John Wearne on 67241585 or Ros Moulton on 67241613. Membership for the full year is $60.

The 2012 year finished with 38 members, and NWTC are aiming for around 50 this year. It is great value and a fun afternoon out. In addition to the movie, shorts are included when time permits, the films are introduced with a short talk, and members can stay on for wine and an early tea after the film. A quiz is also held when appropriate.