During the British rule, Ceylon was also the location of choice for several documentaries. The best known film was ‘The Song of Ceylon’ by Basil Wright which was made for the Empire Marketing Board. Narrated by Ceylonese photographer Lionel Wendt, the film focused on Buddhist rituals and the island’s natural beauty before reporting about native industries and the impact of British technical know-how on these industries.
Due to the islands tropical beauty, Ceylon was also the location of choice for several Hollywood productions during the 1950s. ‘Outcast of the Islands’ by Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Beachcomber’, ‘The Purple Plain’ by H.E. Bates, and ‘Elephant Walk’ by Robert Standish were popular novels adapted to the big screen and filmed on location in Ceylon. Unfortunately, none of these films enjoyed box office or critical success. All this changed in 1957 when David Lean’s World War II masterpiece ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. To this date, this film adaptation of French author Pierre Boulle’s novel remains the most famous film made in Ceylon. In the early 1980s, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas filmed Blockbuster hit ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ which starred Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw.