I’m one of those godforsaken cinema heathens that didn’t know much about this movie other than its signature WHISTLED THEME SONG. And I’m ashamed to admit that what I knew of that I got from The Breakfast Club.
Well, now I know what all the hoopla (and whistling) is about, and I’m glad I’ve finally seen it. But I’m also glad I knew very little about this movie beforehand. Knowing just the basic premise -- American and British prisoners held in a Japanese work camp during World War II and forced to construct a bridge -- I had made a lot of assumptions about how the movie would play out. In my mind, it was somewhat closer to Papillon and The Great Escape with a bridge building project thrown in the middle. Luckily, I was very wrong. That is, in fact, only a portion of the middle of the movie. But what makes the movie a classic are those unexpected elements at the beginning and the end.
Don’t worry, I won’t spoil those elements. Just go in whistling and knowing nothing and you’ll be well-rewarded with one of the most entertaining and slyly effective epics on the absurdity of war that you will ever see.