Scene from the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Movies - TV
The Bridge On The River Kwai's Bridge Went Through Quite The Construction Process
Based on the novel and the factual history behind the Burma Railway, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” follows a group of POWs forced by the Japanese army to build a strategic bridge during World War II. Producer Sam Spiegel, who saw the story as a chance to tell a big-budget wartime epic, decided against using miniatures and built a real bridge to blow up at the end.
Spiegel teamed with director David Lean, and the two set off to make the vision a reality in Ceylon’s (now Sri Lanka) Colombo region, where local laborers and elephants helped during construction. Though Spiegel told The New York Times that the cost was over $250,000 and took eight months, he revealed to Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, author of his biography, that the price was closer to $50,000.
For the film’s climax, Spiegel and Lean rigged the bridge to explode and placed multiple cameras around the area to capture the bridge's demolition from numerous angles. Spiegel invited local celebrities and Ceylon’s prime minister to the destruction, only to postpone it for a day because Lean feared a cameraman was in danger, in reality, he had simply forgotten to start rolling.