TheBridge on the River Kwai
Explain the debates &/or arguments between Colonel Saito & Colonel Nicholson in the Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) camp. Including, for instance, discussions about the Geneva Convention/Code. What are these tensions really about?
ColonelSaito, a Japanese commander in Camp 16, gives the British Prisonersof War (POWs) orders that they will receive a day`s rest and commencework – building the bridge on River Kwai – the following day.Colonel Nicholson, commander of the British army, however, maintainsa fixed position. Nicholson does this to display a refusal tosurrender full command of Saito`s regiment. Immediately, the two –Saito and Nicholson – begin to argue. Nicholson says that theGeneva Convention does not allow British soldiers to do manual labourbeside enlisted men.
In reference to discussions in the POW camp, what aspects or elements of Japanese culture/history are used to justify Japanese perceptions of the British soldiers as well as their treatment? How are these ideas criticized by British officers?
Afterthe British soldiers arrive, Saito gives them orders to rest andcommence work the following morning. This shows that the Japaneseculture or history requires one to follow the command issued by theauthority. However, the argument between Nicholson and Saito revealsthat the British believe in the rule of law. Although they arewilling to follow the rules that have been set by the Japanese, theyresist going contrary to the set laws: the Geneva Convention. TheJapanese` culture of strict adherence to authority is mocked by theBritish through open defiance to authority. The British openly defythe rules set by the Japanese in spite of the death threats advancedby Saito.
Explain Colonel Nicholson`s justifications for: a) not escaping the POW camp, b) helping the IJA build its bridge, and c) contributing high quality work/effort to the bridge-building project. Do you agree with the positions that he takes? Why or why not?
Afterthe British POWs arrive at the Japanese camp, Saito addresses themand furnishes them with the rules and warns them against trying toescape. Nicholson, however, says that the British soldiers willremain cooperative and obedient. Reason being, they never surrenderedon their own accord but rather were ordered to surrender by theirsuperiors. After recovery from the physical ordeal that he had gonethrough due to his defiance, Nicholson visits the bridge. He realisesthat there is a lot of confusion, sabotage, and shirking at theconstruction site. This prompts him to request Major Hughes andCaptain Reeves to develop better designs for the bridge since he feltthat he could do a better job. He also feels that building the bridgewould prove to the Japanese that the British have better ingenuityand his soldiers better motivated, as opposed to just lazing around.The position Nicholson takes is very prudent since his soldiers wouldnot have the strength to out power the Japanese soldiers if theysimply lay around all day every day.
Through the process of "negotiation" & "dialogue" between Saito & Nicholson, how does Saito try to appease the British in order to get them to cooperate? (In other words, what does he do to try to do to make Nicholson change his mind?)
Afterthe argument between Saito and Nicholson ends, Nicholson is put in anisolated room and tortured however, he remains vigilant and refusesto work on the bridge. After a while, Saito releases Nicholson underthe disguise that he had proclaimed "amnesty" to celebratethe great Russo-Japanese war. However, this was not the case sinceSaito was primarily interested in getting Nicholson to cooperate andhelp in building the bridge.
In reference to #4, how do the British turn the tables on the Japanese regarding their work on the bridge?
Afterexamining the construction work being done on the bridge, Nicholsonrealises that he could do a better job. He, therefore, coordinateswith his soldiers and they take over control of building the bridge.That is, after Nicholson requests Reeves and Hughes to come up with abetter design of the bridge, this automatically meant that theBritish would take control of the construction of the bridge.
What construction problems are discovered by the British concerning the existing methods the Japanese are using?
Aftera lengthy back and forth with Saito, the British finally get commandof the bridge. Nicholson realises that order and discipline inbuilding the bridge is insufficient. The Japanese were also veryinefficient in utilising the resources that they had. Thus, Nicholsondecides to prove to them the West is far better that the Japanese, interms of quality of work done and efficiency.
What solutions or changes in overall bridge planning, design & construction do the British officers recommend?
TheBritish decide that the designs and planning of the Japanese iscompletely inefficient and haphazard. Nicholson, therefore, decidesto Western methods to use, and stresses on the use of efficiency, toshow the Japanese that the designs advanced are far better. TheBritish soldiers decide to construct a proper bridge, in spite of themilitary advantage it would afford the Japanese.
In the end, does Colonel Nicholson have a change of heart about helping out the Japanese? Explain.
Afterthe physical torture and insults Saito hurls at Nicholson, he decidesto help out after all. The reason for the before-mentioned can beattributed to the chaos and disorganisation he witnessed at theconstruction site. After the psychological turmoil he had undergoneunder the hands of the Japanese, Nicholson decides to prove to themthat Westerners are better than the Japanese in all aspects. Bybuilding a bridge that exceeded Japanese` expectation, the Japanesewould hold the British in high regard, and Saito would be indebted toNicholson for saving his life.
In what ways (provide at least FOUR) does this movie either support or contradict what has been presented regarding: the Meiji Restoration, Japanese skill-levels (education, engineering, training, preparedness, etc.), Japan`s role in WWII, the treatment of POWs, the Co-Prosperity Sphere, etc.
First,today, the Japanese are regarded as being one of the most creativeindividuals in the technology industry. Having invented products suchas energy efficient cars (Toyota), outstanding electronic gadgets(Sony), and many more innovative products, it is difficult to fathomhow they would be unable to build a bridge, and would rely on POWs todo it for them.
Second,the Japanese are highly efficient people. They have the ability touse few resources to do much work. In the movie, Nicholson says thathe would like to teach the barbarians (Japanese) a lesson aboutefficiency. This is very unrealistic considering most Britishproducts consume a lot of energy to operate optimally, for example,cars.
Third,after 1868 Meiji Restoration, Japan regained her independence and hada say in International Affairs. Thus, by the time the European POWswere being captured, Japan should have been fairly developed in thearea of technology. The film depicts a country that is completelyunderdeveloped and lacking, in term of manpower and technologicaladvancement. In fact, if the British POWs, according to the film, didnot agree to cooperate, the bridge would not have been built.
Lastly,considering Japan`s motivation for participating in WWII, the moviedepicts a country that was interested in collaborating with Britain.Japan joined Germany and Italy before WWII in a bid to deter Westerncountries from interrupting its invasion of China. Thus, the movie`sdepiction of a country relying on British help to build a bridge forit is highly contradictory.