Two action-filled classics grace the screen

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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This week at the Tryon Theatre, we have our next pairing of films for The Tryon Film society, wherein we will show two repertoire films in one week, united by a theme. The theme this week is “Spring into Action,” as we hope to compliment the newly arrived spring season with some thrilling and action filled classics— “The Bridge on The River Kwai” and “The Great Escape” —both of which have received universal acclaim and have notable historic significance in their influence on popular culture. 

Both of these films were made nearly 60 years ago, and to this day remain compelling examinations of humanity enduring adversity. With the age and popularity of these films, we trust that the majority of our audience are aware of them, if not familiar with them. For those that have seen them before, their value is self-evident, and worthy of a rewatch. For any audience member that has yet to see these films, they will surely prove themselves worthy of investing attention. 

“Bridge on the River Kwai ” was released in 1957, directed by David Lean (best known for the cinematic epic Lawrence of Arabia), and adapted from the identically titled 1952 novel from Pierre Boule. The film’s narrative follows the story of allied POWs in a Japanese overseen internment camp from the Burma campaign. The plot begins when a group of recently surrendered British soldiers arrive at the camp, which is already populated by captured Americans, who attest to the brutality of their experience. Soon after their forced introduction, these men find themselves tasked with the construction of a bridge that connects sections of a railway integral to the Japanese war effort. As their captivity wears on, the intersecting dynamics of the camp’s leaders, the warden and the captured officers, prove an intricate web of pride, duty and duplicity. 

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“The Great Escape” also tells the story of allied POWs, but rather than set in the Pacific theater, this film takes place in a German internment camp, overseen by a division of the Luftwaffe, Nazi Germany’s aviation command. This film was directed by John Sturgess, and adapted the non-fiction book of the same title, but with significant reimaginings and fictionalizations of the event and key people involved. With its large and celebrated ensemble cast, “The Great Escape” featured multiple leading men of the time. However, one actor (and his character) is the arguable center of the film’s narrative, Steve McQueen’s Captain Hilts. Hilts, among the other allied prisoners, is a key part of their shared strategy to engineer an escape, one in which they planned on freeing more men than ever before achieved. Their plan is to tunnel, and the scheming and machinations they pursue in this plan provide for brilliantly entertaining cinema, working significant comedy into a serious and dramatic subject. 

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” will be shown on Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday at 2:30 p.m., and Saturday at 7 p.m. “The Great Escape” will be shown on Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

We hope you will join us for both of these films and spring into the season appropriately!