Thrilling epic about British prisoners during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Director David Lean has wisely focused not on the overall conflict, but on the individuals involved and in doing so, has fashioned a perfect fable. Set in a Japanese POW camp, this landmark story features the now classic battle of wills between camp commander Colonel Saito and prisoner Colonel Nicholson. Sessue Hayakawa and Alec Guinness bring a brilliant subtlety to their respective parts. Their characterizations are transcendent: fully formed characters that are noble in their determination, yet critically flawed. The ethical conundrum it raises is just one of the many plot points that makes this drama so mesmerizing. Every 161 minutes of this film just flies by, and I don’t say that often.