Sunday, June 12, 2011

Item From the Past: Some Admirable Lateral Thinking

I've posted before about Kanchanaburi, Thailand, but not the view from the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Fiction has a way, of course, of fictionalizing things. According to the remarkable web site the Man in Seat Sixty-One, "there is a small technical problem with the Bridge on the River Kwai: It crosses a river all right, but not the River Kwai! Pierre Boulle, who wrote the original book, had never been there. He knew that the 'death railway' ran parallel to the River Kwae for many miles, and assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just north of Kanchanaburi. He was wrong -- it actually crosses the Mae Khlung.

"When David Lean's blockbuster came out, the Thais faced something of a problem. Thousands of tourists flocked to see the bridge over the River Kwae, and they hadn't got one; all they had was a bridge over the Mae Khlung. So, with admirable lateral thinking, they renamed the river. The Mae Khlung is now the Kwae Yai ('Big Kwae') for several miles north of the confluence with the Kwae Noi ('Little Kwae'), including the bit under the bridge."

Finally, any time is a good time to watch this clip.

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