September 15th, 2010

Interesting words

"They had that attitude that makes brothers, that unexpressed but instant and complete acceptance that you must be Masai wherever it is you come from. That attitude you only get from the best of the English, the best of the Hungarians and the very best Spaniards; the thing that used to be the most clear distinction of nobility when there was nobility. It is an ignorant attitude and the people who have it do not survive, but very few pleasanter things ever happen to you than this encountering of it."
Ernest Hemingway

82 - Real, not miniature

I have been mulling over the bridge explosion and train crash in The Bridge on the River Kwai. By any measure it is a spectacular scene and the culmination of increasing tension and anxiety in the viewer. Reading up on the movie, though, I learned that the bridge was an actual bridge, and the train was an actual train. It wasn't special effects or miniatures, etc. The bridge cost $250,000 to build (in 1957 dollars); the train was 65 years old and bought from the Ceylon government for the purpose of being destroyed in the film.

Knowing that makes the sight of the explosion even more exciting, and underscores the reality of the event. I read that the first time the shot took place, the explosions failed to go off and the train went safely across the bridge. They had to back it off and do it again. Also, there was a small engine at the rear of the train, put there to make certain that all the cars went off the bridge and into the river Kwai.

The movie got seven Oscars, including best picture, and no wonder. Alec Guinness at his most superlative.