By Barbara Kowal
In David Lean’s classic 1957 motion picture, “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” the story unfolds in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943. A battle of wills rages between a Japanese Colonel named Saito and a newly arrived British Colonel named Nicholson, played brilliantly by the late Alec Guinness. Saito insists that Nicholson as well as his men build a bridge over the River Kwai that will be used to transport Japanese troops and munitions. Nicholson refuses on the grounds that officers do not do manual labor despite all the “persuasive” devices at Saito’s disposal.
Finally, after breaking the psychological will of Saito who relents and agrees that Nicholson and his officers will not do manual labor, Nicholson agrees to build the bridge, not so much to cooperate with his captors but to provide a morale-boosting project for his own military engineers under his command.
In doing so, (...)