Lessons from the Movie – The Bridge on the River Kwai
It was only accidentally that I got to watch the movie. In a friend’s house once I came across dozens of movie CDs gathering dust. I asked him whether I could borrow those and see if those contain anything worth watching. On a listless Sunday when I had nothing else to do, I started checking the quality of the video of those CDs. After two or three movies, came the turn of this movie-the Bridge on the River Kwai. I could not simply stop watching the movie and kept on watching till the end. It was only later that I learnt I had watched one of the all time great movies. Here are the basics of the movie: (Source: wikipedia)
“The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 Second World War film directed by David Lean, based on the eponymous French novel (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. The movie was filmed in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). The bridge in the film was located near Kitulgala.
The film was widely praised, winning seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 30th Academy Awards; in 1997 this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.”
Lessons from the movie:
1. Quite often, the passion for creative activity/inventions/discovery coupled with the urge to display professional competence overrides ethical considerations. That’s why, knowing full well that the bridge would strengthen the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson went ahead to construct the bridge. Or else, we would not have people like Einstein inventing the Bomb. That may be one of the reasons why many bright people, who do not find a positive channel to utilize their talent, join destructive movements like the Naxal movement or insurgency outfits.
2. Whatever you do, sooner or later everything returns to dust. That does not mean we should stop creating anything. The sand artist is a great inspiration. Knowing full well that sometimes, the creative work will be washed away even before its completion, he/she does not loose enthusiasm or stop creating.
3. The movie ends with the words of Clipton – “madness.. madness”. Madness is a subjective view of the observer and there is hardly anything in life that’s not madness. If we took out the madness from life, may be, we would loose the charm of living. This also reminds us not to be too much attached to anything. For the enlightened, the crowd is insane; in the eyes of the crowd the enlightened is mad. There is a spiritual sect in West Bengal called the Bouls – the mad people.
4. Leaders, who show courage and stand by their people even in the face of adversity, are respected.
5. Adversity makes strange bed fellows. Even enemies develop cordiality depending upon the situation.
6. The British take pride in engineering marvels compared to their eastern counterparts to the point of showing disdain for the Japanese Engineers in the movie. I think, they deserve to do so. Many of the bridges they constructed in India still survive even though some are more than 100 years old. Sometimes in India we come across news where a bridge collapses even before its completion.
5 thoughts on “watchings of idle hours #2: leadership lessons from a pow movie”
Great lessons indeed. Hearty thanks for sharing Durga Prasad Ji.
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Thank U Mathur ji for stopping by.
Thanks you good review and paper.
MY REFLECTIONS, shared
Like good books, films also leave a firm imprint on our minds & lives. I saw this in the late 50s when I was in school . My late father was Retd AMC Army and served in Imphal and North East in WW2 and could understand it well
Robin Sharma -the famed author talks about Learning (and relaxing) from good films.
The Bridge on the River Kwai with academy awards & lead role of Sir Alec Guiness of the mid 50s is one such life time lessons on Management film.
I saw this again recently, (several times) with a new insights- a must see again film.
With time, our perception changes and many subtle dimensions surface viz: detachment for objects- even for some of our prized possessions. In this film, the very act of demolishing the bridge built with such care never appeared as a significant part as a young boy. The war story and adventure part was mainly seen.
Detachment gains so much significance in order to lead a more peaceful and less stressful life ..Felt, I could share this with all- not an easy lesson , but needed.
As the great statement goes: We begin to seek significance in the things we do rather than mere success in the mundane.