“One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clipton, even in captivity.”
Last year I was venturing around asia when I stumbled across a beautiful village called Kanchanaburi. The jolly frog was my humble abode, £2 a night did’t seem fair for such a perfect location. Sitting on a floating deck, watching the sunset, listening to the sound of a long tail boat churning up the river. Time seems to stop and you realise, all that happens in the world, all of the things that annoy you or make you unhappy, don’t seem to matter. For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to hold onto these moments, because when you look back they may well lift us out of the trivial mess we get caught up in.
Kanchanaburi has claims to a movie that was on today, “the bridge on the river Kwai”. I was taken back by how much of a ‘movie’ it was. An oscar winner, and interesting insight to a war I don’t really know much about. In fact if I’m honest I know very little about anything that has happend over 20 years ago. I would love to have a greater knowledge of the past, of the wars, why so many people died for me to live…. unfortunately in a world of technology my attention span is…..sorry I forgot what I was talking about there.
Anyway, Ive decided this year to brush up on my history, through visual media! Through photography and movies I will try to get a bit more involved with the past. Whilst watching the river Kwai movie this quote stood out to me…
“I’ve been thinking. Tomorrow it will be twenty-eight years to the day that I’ve been in the service. Twenty-eight years in peace and war. I don’t suppose I’ve been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it’s been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you’re nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men’s careers. I don’t know whether that kind of thinking’s very healthy; but I must admit I’ve had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight… tonight!”
The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances.
It’s interesting that we can travel somewhere or even live somewhere without really knowing to much about what happened before. I think that’s why I enjoyed the film so much, because I discovered so much more to the simplicity I felt when I sat by the river. At one point, years ago bombers were flying over head, guns shots echoing through the jungle and the river may well have been red with the blood from both sides.
Anyway I think it’s good to stop and think…as much as the past is the past its still worth remembering, worth respecting and important to take note that it hasn’t always been that easy. The moments and memories we have had the freedom to make weren’t always possible. Even today people are fighting for the next generation to have the opportunity to create something unique.
Has it been a good life?
When it feels like the end, have we done enough?
Should we compare our lives to other men/women?
Maybe its not really about trying to make a difference, but more about doing what we can in our own lives, so when it does feel more like the end we can look back and say “we did enough, wouldn’t change a thing…”. I was watching another movie (closer to the edge) about motorbikes, the isle of mann TT, a fan quoted, “we only have one lap, may as well make it a good one”.