• Publication date: March 5, 2009

Surviving The Odds The Soldiers Who Built The Bridge On The Kwai

With his 2001 epic "To End All Wars" told through the experiences of POWs held in a Japanese labor camp towards the end of World War II, director David L. Cunningham shares a story of faith and hope.
With Brian Godawa writing the screenplay, the film is based on survivor Ernest Gordon's book, 'Through the Valley of the Kwai', that chronicles his experiences on the Death Railway .

With his 2001 epic "To End All Wars" told through the experiences of POWs held in a Japanese labor camp towards the end of World War II, director David L. Cunningham shares a story of faith and hope.

With Brian Godawa writing the screenplay, the film is based on survivor Ernest Gordon's book, 'Through the Valley of the Kwai', that chronicles his experiences on the Death Railway.

One of a group of Scottish soldiers, Ernest Gordon found a sense of self and spirituality in the direst of times while participating with other POWs to build The Bridge on the River Kwai. Under bushido logic, the Japanese and Koreans were known to be especially cruel to their prisoners in these labor camps, and soon Gordon would suffer much anguish and strife being subject to malnutrition, Beri Beri, Malaria, Jungle Ulcer, and having to have a kidney removed without the benefit of pain medication. Gordon was placed in the 'Death Ward' designated for those who were not expected to survive.

There he received 24-hour care by two soldiers in their late twenties; 'Dusty Miller' and 'Dinty' Moore, boiling rags, cleaning and massaging Gordon's legs everyday. Against all odds Ernest survived the 'Death Ward', his story inspiring a revival of hope and faith amongst the other prisoners. Ernest eventually moved to America where he became the dean of the chapel at Princeton University.

In Brian Godawa's adaptation, "To End All Wars" tells the brutal tale of a group of Scottish soldiers who discover first hand the atrocities of war. Major Campbell [Robert Carlyle], Gordon [Ciaran McMenamin], Dusty [Mark Strong], and American Lieutenant Reardon 'Yanker' [Kiefer Sutherland] are captured by the Japanese and their Korean counterparts in the last three and a half years of World War II. They are beaten, starved, and brutalized, before they are forced to work on the 'Railway of Death', building track through an impossibly dense jungles of Burma. The POWs realize respect is the key, and earn some from the camp staff by taking efficient charge of the engineering challenge. Ultimately they find true freedom by forgiving their enemies.

David L. Cunningham's film focuses on the battles within, shaping the actions of each individual soldier, laying even more gravity to the already dismal image of war. "To End All Wars" won the 2002 Crystal Heart Award and the Grand Prize for Dramatic Feature in the Heartland Film Festival.

Rated R for war violence and brutality, and language, this real-life war-drama runs for a total screen-time of 125 minutes.