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War Office officials attempted to sabotage the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai

The War Office tried to sabotage the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai, criticizing the ‘inauthentic’ portrayal of British prisoners of war.

The department then warned that the film ‘would not go well with the public’ Hollywood producer Sam Spiegel wrote a letter to it, hoping to get the cooperation of the RAF in the filming.

The film is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and focuses on a British commander, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, and Colonel Saito, the commander of the Japanese prison camp in Burma, now Myanmar, where Nicholson and his men are being held. Saito insists that all men, including the officers, should work on building a bridge to connect Bangkok and Rangoon.

Nicholson refuses to let his officers do manual work and they are all held in prison shelters. The other men under his command have to work on the bridge, though they sabotage its progress whenever possible.

Pressing Saito to complete the bridge leads to a compromise, and Nicholson decides that if the men are forced to work on the bridge, they will design and build it properly. He believed it would boost British prestige and demoralize their Japanese kidnappers.

However, he eventually realizes the enormity of his actions by the end of the movie and collapses.

Now, newly published letters in the National Archives have now revealed the full extent of the War Office’s doubts about the film, with officials warning that the film’s storyline was ‘not true at all’.

The 1957 film is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and centers on a British commander, Lt.Col.Nicholson, and Colonel Saito, the commander of the Japanese prison camp in Burma, present-day Myanmar, where Nicholson and his men are held .

The 1957 film is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and centers on a British commander, Lt.Col.Nicholson, and Colonel Saito, the commander of the Japanese prison camp in Burma, present-day Myanmar, where Nicholson and his men are held .

The War Office wrote to the film “it wouldn’t go well with audiences,” after Hollywood producer Sam Spiegel wrote to it in hopes of getting the RAF’s cooperation on the filming.

The War Office found the film, which won seven Oscars, unfairly portrayed British prisoners of war, especially officers

The War Office found the film, which won seven Oscars, unfairly portrayed British prisoners of war, especially officers

The War Office found the film, which won seven Oscars, unfairly portrayed British prisoners of war, especially officers

The War Office found the film, which won seven Oscars, unfairly portrayed British prisoners of war, especially officers, and suggested that they collude with their Japanese captors.

The Bridge on the River Kwai: An American World War II classic that won seven Oscars for its display of prisoners of war

The 1957 film is based on the novel written by Pierre Boulle and is set in a Japanese POW camp.

Central are a British commander, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, and Colonel Saito, the commander of the Japanese prison camp in Burma, present-day Myanmar, where Nicholson and his men are being held.

Saito insists that all men, including the officers, should work on building a bridge to connect Bangkok and Rangoon.

Nicholson refuses to allow his officers to do manual labor (under the Geneva Convention) and they are all held in prison shelters.

The other men under his command have to work on the bridge, though they sabotage its progress whenever possible.

Pressing Saito to complete the bridge leads to a compromise, and Nicholson decides that if the men are forced to work on the bridge, they will design and build it properly.

This will not only show their superior professionalism and skill to their captors, but also maintain the men’s morale as they will take pride in their work, he believes.

In the explosive ending of the film, he finally realizes the truth of his actions by saying, “What have I done?”

Sarah Castagnetti, visual collections team manager, wrote at the time: ‘Prisoners of war were obliged to try to escape and sabotage the enemy’s war effort whenever they could.

“The idea that they would love to work to build a first-class railway bridge in record time was unpalatable to say the least.”

At Spiegel’s request, a War Office officer, Major Close, wrote to the deputy director of public relations: “I don’t think much of this story.

‘At first it is not true at all and only occasionally resembles the facts as they were at the time.

‘I may be biased because I worked on this particular railway for 3.5 years.

“However, I have asked independent people to read the script and they agree that it would not go down well with the British public.”

The movie was vastly different from real life events.

Unlike Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, Philip Toosey, the senior British officer of the section who inspired the film, attempted to delay and sabotage the construction while caring for the well-being of his men.

The files showed that the War Office had also passed on to Spiegel the concerns of Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, president of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPoW) and a former Allied commander and prisoners of war.

He noted: “ It is reasonable to expect that the audience who sees the film will think that the events that take place in the film are typical of what actually happened … our members are like a body justifiably proud of their behavior. as prisoners. war.

“They suffered a lot for it and they would now deeply dislike the presentation of any movie that tended to misrepresent and criticize their behavior.”

In response to concerns, Spiegel wrote an extensive defense of the script.

He said the film was a fictional story that looked at the different ways the British, Japanese and Americans expected their soldiers to behave during the war, and insisted that British director David Lean and co-stars Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins would not have worked on a move that showed British POWs in a bad light.

Recently published letters from the National Archives have shown that the War Office is opposed to the Hollywood film Bridge on the River Kwai. Major Close wrote in the letter above: “I don't think much of this story. At first it is not true at all and only occasionally resembles the facts as they were at the time

Recently published letters from the National Archives have revealed that the War Office is opposed to the Hollywood film Bridge on the River Kwai. Major Close wrote in the letter above: “I don't think much of this story. At first it is not true at all and only occasionally resembles the facts as they were at the time

Recently published letters from the National Archives have revealed that the War Office is opposed to the Hollywood film Bridge on the River Kwai. Major Close wrote in the letter above: “I don’t think much of this story. At first it is not true at all and only occasionally resembles the facts as they were at the time

The files showed that the War Office also passed on to Spiegel the concerns of Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, president of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPoW) and a former Allied commander and prisoners of war.

The files showed that the War Office also passed on to Spiegel the concerns of Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, president of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPoW) and a former Allied commander and prisoners of war.

The files showed that the War Office also passed on to Spiegel the concerns of Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, president of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPoW) and a former Allied commander and prisoners of war.

Officials and producers came to an agreement that a disclaimer would be shown on screenings making it clear that the film was fictional - although this agreement was not always adhered to

Officials and producers came to an agreement that a disclaimer would be shown on screenings making it clear that the film was fictional - although this agreement was not always adhered to

Officials and producers came to an agreement that a disclaimer would be shown on screenings making it clear that the film was fictional – although this agreement was not always adhered to

Despite their doubts, the War Office eventually gave the RAF permission to work with filmmakers

Despite their doubts, the War Office eventually gave the RAF permission to work with filmmakers

Despite their doubts, the War Office eventually gave the RAF permission to work with filmmakers

Sarah Castagnetti, visual collections team manager, wrote at the time: 'Prisoners of war were obliged to try to escape and sabotage the enemy's war effort whenever they could. The idea that they would love to work to build a first-class railway bridge in record time was indigestible to say the least '

Sarah Castagnetti, visual collections team manager, wrote at the time: 'Prisoners of war were obliged to try to escape and sabotage the enemy's war effort whenever they could. The idea that they would love to work to build a first-class railway bridge in record time was indigestible to say the least '

Sarah Castagnetti, visual collections team manager, wrote at the time: ‘Prisoners of war were obliged to try to escape and sabotage the enemy’s war effort whenever they could. The idea that they would love to work to build a first-class railway bridge in record time was indigestible to say the least ‘

Despite their doubts, the War Office eventually gave the RAF permission to work with filmmakers, although it again made its concerns clear.

It wrote: ‘We are not entirely happy with this film story which does contain certain inaccuracies and which, in our opinion, does not always authentically portray the behavior and behavior of British officers.

“Nevertheless, we do not intend to create any stumbling blocks and are willing to assure the RAF that we have no objection to the proposed shootings.”

Officials and producers came to an agreement that a disclaimer would be shown on screenings making it clear that the film was fictional.

It would also make it clear that there was no implication that British POWs were doing anything to discredit themselves.

However, after the film’s launch, this did not appear on all screenings, leading to a slew of complaints in the newspapers.

But despite the furor, the film was a box office success, winning seven Oscars.

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