Sweden Town Supervisor Rob Carges has been thrust into the role of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Like Colonel Nicholson, who was played by Alec Guinness in the film, Rob Carges is a good man who cooperates with the bad guys.
The film won 7 Academy Awards, and the ending is an absolute classic. Let’s hope that Rob Carges has the same kind of realization that the Colonel Nicholson character had at the end of the film.
For Colonel Nicholson (Guinness), it was the realization that he had violated the soldier’s code of conduct by collaborating with the Japanese Army during World War II.
For Rob Carges, it will be the realization that he has been used by unscrupulous people to destroy a great opportunity to revitalize Brockport.
The movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, is based on an actual incident during World War II.
In 1943, as part of the Japanese Burma-India campaign, the Japanese Army built a railroad from Bangkok, Thailand to Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar).
To build the railroad, the Japanese Army used slave labor, including civilians and prisoners of war. 12,399 Allied POWs died building the railroad.
The prisoner of war camp on the banks of the Khwae Noi river near Kanchanaburi, in western Thailand is the location of the actual bridge and the setting for the movie.
In the movie, Colonel Nicholson (Guinness,) was the ranking British officer in the Japanese prisoner of war camp.
The captured allied soldiers are doing such a poor job of building the bridge that it keeps falling down.
Morale among the prisoners of war is also very low, because of the slave labor conditions.
When Colonel Nicholson conducts an inspection of the bridge, he is shocked by the shoddy workmanship and the low morale, so he orders British engineering officers to design and built a proper bridge in order to improve the moral of his men.
They do so and because Colonel Nicholson has his troop collaborate with the enemy, the work on the bridge moves ahead smoothly.
Meanwhile, three POWs attempt to escape by jumping into the river. Two of the POWs are killed.
The third escapee, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Shears (William Holden) is badly wounded, but escapes and makes his way to a British army hospital in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
While he is in the hospital, Lieutenant Commander Shears is approached by Major Warden (Jack Hawkins), who is the leader of a British Commando unit.
The Major wants Shears to lead the commandos back to the bridge so they can blow it up.
Shears says no, but Major Warden knows that Shears is actually an enlisted man who stole the identity card of a dead naval officer, when his ship was sunk, because he had heard that officers received better treatment as prisoners of war.
Like Rob Carges, the William Holden character is caught between a rock and a hard place.
In The Bridge on the River Kwai, Shears is facing prosecution for impersonating an officer if he doesn’t help Major Warden.
In the Town of Sweden, Supervisor Carges is facing the distinct possibility of being investigated and prosecuted by the New York State Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau.
Carges failed to act when several members of the Sweden Town Council broke the law by violating provisions of the Code of Ethics set down in Chapter 19 of the Town Code.
Complaints have already been filed with the Attorney General’s Office, so the clock is already ticking. It is just a matter of time before the whole mess explodes in Rob Carges’ face.
“What have I done?”
It pains me to see Rob Carges’ reputation crumble into dust. Rob and I have been friends and neighbors for more than thirty years.
When our kids were young, his family used to come to my house every New Year’s Eve, and the kids would celebrate by popping open confetti-crackers until my floors were ankle deep in confetti.
My hope is that the light bulb will go on in Rob’s head and that he realizes he is being used by some unscrupulous people on the Sweden Republican Committee.
I would hate to see Rob get caught up in an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau.
But that’s where this looks like it’s heading, unless Rob looks in the mirror and says, “What have I done?”
In the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Shears (Holden) and the commando group reach the bridge and plant their explosives to blow up the bridge the next morning when the first troop train of Japanese troop is scheduled to cross the bridge.
But something goes wrong, the water level in the river drops exposing the electrical wires to the detonator.
Colonel Nicholson and the Japanese camp commandant, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) walk across the new bridge and Nicholson notices the electrical wires in the water below.
So he and the Japanese officer rush down to find out what is going on.
Shears (Holden) rushes across the river to stop Nicholson, but he is killed before he can get there.
Nicholson is wounded but he recognizes Shears and it makes him realize that he has been collaborating with the enemy.
Nicholson says, “What have I done?” then staggers off toward the detonator.
As the troop train passes over the new bridge, Nicholson collapses on the detonator, the satchel charges explode, the bridge is destroyed an the troop train crashes into the river.
Colonel Nicholson realized before it was too late that he had made a brutal mistake, by collaborating with the enemy, and he did something about it.
Will Sweden Town Supervisor Rob Carges realized before it was too late that he has made a brutal mistake, by letting people like Jim Bell tell him what to do?
Will Rob Carges do something about it?
At the end of the film, the POW camp’s medical officer Major Clipton shakes his head muttering, "Madness! Madness!"
Will the people of Brockport and Sweden walk away from all this shaking their heads about Rob Carges’ behavior as they mutter, "Madness! Madness!"