The Shark on the River Kwai

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The Shark on the River Kwai
Directed by David Lean, Steven Spielberg
Written by David Lean
Starring Jack Nicholson
Produced by David Lean, Steven Spielberg
Distributed by Disney International
Release date David Lean
Runtime 3 hours, 43 minutes
Language Cockney
Budget 5,000,000 Thai Baht
IMDb page

The Shark on the River Kwai is a 1957 British/American World War II film by David Lean and Steven Spielberg. The film is a work of fiction, but borrows the near-fatal biting of two sunbathing British officers by a great white in a Thai river for its historical setting.


We're gonna need a bigger boat, old bean....

A group of British prisoners of war are ordered by Japanese Colonel Saito to build a riverside holiday resort on the banks of the Thai river Kwai[1]. British Colonel Nicholson, however, refuses to work, complaining about the lack of stout ale in the labor camp. Eventually, Saito accepts his demands, and convinces Nicholson to work on the resort after a refreshing lukewarm pint of bitter in the labor camp bar.

Nicholson takes the lead in the construction of the resort, and initially makes good progress. However, a great white shark, released by Allied commandos[2], begins terrorizing the forced laborers, effectively halting any work. Nicholson, proud of his work, hunts down the shark, makes it eat a canister of pressurized oxygen and fires his revolver, sending shark chunks in all directions in a dramatic explosion. Only then does Colonel Nicholson realize that he's been working for the enemy all along, and that he really did need a bigger boat.


  1. doesn't actually exist, it just rhymes with Thai
  2. Unlike modern army sharks, the 1943 versions did not have lasers instead of eyes.
  • Recent evidence suggests that the screenplay for The Shark on the River Kwai may have been based on the silent films The Shark on Pier 6, The Shark on Face the Nation, The Shark Gets Served Up in a Bowl of Soup (fragmentary), The Shark on Sarah Bernhardt, and Clarence Day's Life with Father.
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