Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Bridge Too Far

I called this picture A Bridge Too Far because I saw in it the abstract form of a bridge. My title is also the name of a movie, set in Norway during the Second World War, directed by Richard Attenborough in 1977.

But in fact, the movie that I was thinking of as I looked at the picture was The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), directed by David Lean.

Just for the record, Richard Attenborough was mostly known as an actor. He had a brief foray in India with a small role in Satyajit Ray's Shatranj ki Khiladi, which he performed only out of respect for Ray. Perhaps that spurred him on to come back to India in a very big way as the producer-director of the epic Gandhi. His career after that is more or less obscure. He is the brother of the documentary director David Attenborough, who was inspired by Carl Sagan's Cosmos. He went on to write many books and make documentary serials on nature, animal life, and evolution in general.

David Lean, on the other hand, made movies which had to win Academy Awards, such as Brief Encounter, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago. Ryan's Daughter, set in Ireland, which I and many others loved very much, did not succeed, but it did not make him change his mind, and he was so hurt that he vowed not to make any movie again. I lectured on it and defended it at a seminar at the time. Just before his demise he came back to India and made his last film, A Passage to India, which neither he nor his audience understood.

When E.M. Forster, the author of Passage to India, was contacted for clarification, he laughed it off and said that even he did not understand.

E. & O. E.

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