|They've been working on the railroad.|
First and foremost, what is The Bridge on the River Kwai? It is the perfect description of madness, in each and every character.
The main character of madness is Col. Nicholson, played by Academy-Award winning Alec Guinness, who decides to stop slacking, and build a bridge for the Japanese. It's a confusing decision, and isn't considered the first act of madness for nothing.
The second character of madness is the Japanese officer himself, Col. Saito. He is the man, that believes the British would actually build them a bridge. Saito, on a deadline, needs to build a bridge or he'll be forced to commit suicide. But dependence on the enemy? Madness!
Lastly, is the liar, Shears. Shears frequently asks to be put on the sick list to avoid work, and escapes building the bridge. At a rehabilitation, Shears is asked to go back and blow up the bridge. His daring and crucial escape, wasted. Madness!
All three of the listed characters are the main ones, and have their own intricate background. Each one is equally important to the story as the next.
Though the film spans three hours, it also never bores. It is dark, suspenseful, and funny at times. It is a perfect interpretation of madness!