hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks Of All Time: The Bridge On The River Kwai
With some great in-store offers coming this summer on film soundtracks as part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 1957 and the all-time classic war film The Bridge On The River Kwai...
So what’s this film?
It’s up there with the greatest war films of all time. The harrowing story of a British colonel who does a deal with his captors in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, the deal to build a railway bridge for their captors to use. At first the colonel is admired by his men and he stands up to their captors and endures terrible torture, but soon after they begin to question his judgement in continuing to build the bridge. Soon after though, the reasons they must continue to build change completely...
Is this a score or soundtrack?
A superb score, composed by Malcolm Arnold, with a few extra inclusions, like the film's theme, which is titled 'Colonel Bogey' and is whistled. It was written originally in 1914 by Kenneth J. Alford, a pseudonym of British Bandmaster Frederick J. Ricketts. Arnold took this and added a counter melody, his own 'The River Kwai March'. You can watch that below.
So what’s it like?
It's a classic war film score, full of graceful orchestration, occasionally jaunty, mostly very dark and quite moody.
What does it give the film?
It gives the film movement, grace, power and a sense of threat and danger, that grips you from beginning to end.
What’s the best moment?
The moment the troops break into 'The River Kwai March', it's incredible.
Has it stood the test of time?
Oh without a shadow of a doubt. It’s very rare that you see a list compiled of the greatest films of all time and this isn't somewhere in the top 20. The score is also just as powerful as the day it was written, equal parts stirring and jarring.