Tuesday, September 18, 2018


by Barbara Kowal (writer), Los Angeles, October 28, 2006


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, Colonel Nicholson will prove that by building a better bridge than Colonel Saito’s men, the British soldier is a far superior being even when under the thumb of his enemy. However, as the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that in the end, no matter how well built the bridge is, it will only benefit the Japanese. Nicholson’s acts in fact, were deemed as collusion with the enemy.

Meanwhile, an American POW named Shears, who had escaped from the camp, later agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British commandos back to the POW camp again with a mission to blow up Nicholson’s bridge. After all, the world was at war.

Upon his return, in the film’s thrilling final sequence, at the moment when Shears as well as Nicholson confront each other before they both die, Shears suddenly realizes that Nicholson’s mania to complete his project has driven him mad.

Again, in the famous Stanley Kubrick film, “Dr. Strangelove,” we have another psychologically deranged pervert named General Jack D. Ripper who, in the midst of a psychotic episode, seals up his Air base and orders an all out nuclear attack on Russian targets. In the end, General Ripper commits suicide.

This whole material world is like that. Indeed, most people are living a life of madness, their minds stolen by the false propaganda fed to them daily on TV and the media. This is ever so apparent in today’s anxiety ridden, high-tech, electronic world where more and more it seems we are heading full speed ahead toward a nuclear holocaust.

Everywhere one turns, it seems that the material energy is getting more intense. There is War, terrorism, diseases, floods, high gas prices, global warming and famine. Yet for most of us, we go about our daily business while death patiently awaits us. Will it be today or tomorrow? No one knows. But as the old adage goes, “There is nothing so certain as death and taxes.”

This is madness. A new kind of madness that has permeated the atmosphere like a mist and seems to have taken on biblical proportions.

The greatest purveyor of this new madness is Hollywood. Hollywood has, at its disposal, a tremendous impact on world affairs, be it social or political. Notwithstanding entertainment for entertainment’s sake, there are innovative ways Hollywood can bring people an awareness of their spiritual self in new ways without being overly didactic or trying to convey a “message.”

It is hoped that new writers and filmmakers will be allowed to express their vision in ways that will benefit all of humanity and that producers and those who make the decisions to finance such works will be allowed the freedom to do so.

If Hollywood wants to reach out to a new audience it must do so in bold new ways. If they can do this and change their current course of direction, I have no doubt that they will attract an audience to once again.

About the Writer

Barbara Kowal is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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