Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Hey, take your stinking human paws off my classic war movie, Mr. Blu-Ray!

By Army Capt. Bart “Buddy” Love Best Defense guest film reviewer I recently purchased the Blu-Ray version of the classic World War II film Bridge on the River Kwai. I’ve watched the film enough times over the years that many of the quotes are burned into my mind. As I settled in on Saturday to ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

By Army Capt. Bart "Buddy" Love
Best Defense guest film reviewer

I recently purchased the Blu-Ray version of the classic World War II film Bridge on the River Kwai.

I've watched the film enough times over the years that many of the quotes are burned into my mind. As I settled in on Saturday to watch the film I was struck by the distortion of one of the movies most memorable lines. In the scene Colonel Nicholson, played by Alec Guinness, is informing his officers of his intent to build the bridge. He states: "We can teach these barbarians a lesson in Western methods and efficiency that will put them to shame. We'll show them what the British soldier is capable of doing."

By Army Capt. Bart “Buddy” Love
Best Defense guest film reviewer

I recently purchased the Blu-Ray version of the classic World War II film Bridge on the River Kwai.

I’ve watched the film enough times over the years that many of the quotes are burned into my mind. As I settled in on Saturday to watch the film I was struck by the distortion of one of the movies most memorable lines. In the scene Colonel Nicholson, played by Alec Guinness, is informing his officers of his intent to build the bridge. He states: “We can teach these barbarians a lesson in Western methods and efficiency that will put them to shame. We’ll show them what the British soldier is capable of doing.”

It’s one of my favorite lines since many years later those “barbarians” taught us a thing or two about efficiency. As the movie reached the scene COL Nicholson begins to speak the line and I suddenly noticed something missing; I couldn’t make out the word “barbarians.” I replayed the scene twice and sure enough no barbarians. I then turned on the subtitles and played the scene again. In the subtitles the word “them” was placed where “barbarians” should have been.

I’m not sure why anyone would edit this line out. My knee-jerk reaction is to assume that it is some sort of conspiracy since the movie was released by Sony. Of course the explanation could come down to simple human error in editing the film.  

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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