Pierre Boulle (Pierre Boulle)

Pierre Boulle

Author. A writer of mainstream French fiction, he often injected satire and social commentary into the pulpish plots of his books. Boulle’s best known novels are the war saga “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1952) and the science-fiction tale “The Planet of the Apes” (1963). Both were made into classic American films. Born in Avignon, France, Boulle trained as an engineer and in 1936 went to Milaya as a technician on British rubber plantations. During World War II he served with the French Army and later with Free French forces in China, Burma, and French Indochina. According to some sources he was also involved in espionage under the name Peter John Rule. In 1943 Boulle was captured by Vichy loyalists on the Mekong River and became a prisoner of the Japanese; he endured months of slave labor before his escape the following year. For his services and bravery he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Medal of the Resistance. After the war Boulle settled in Paris and began to write stories based on his experiences in Southeast Asia. “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, his second novel, won the Prix Sainte-Beuve and became an international best-seller. Boulle used an actual World War II incident—the forced construction by British POWs of a railway bridge in Thailand, though he set the action in Burma—to satirize single-minded devotion to military protocol as one of the follies of war. The 1957 screen adaptation, directed by David Lean, won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. Since the film’s writers, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were blacklisted at the time, Boulle (who spoke no English) was credited with the script and awarded the Oscar. (Foreman and Wilson were given credit posthumously in the 1980s). “The Planet of the Apes”, Boulle’s other famous work, is a dystopian and slightly tongue-in-cheek look at a future world where the roles of man and ape are reversed. Filmed in 1968, it spawned four movie sequels, a televison series, and a remake in 2001. In all Boulle wrote 14 novels and five collections of short stories. His last book, “The Marvelous Palace”, was published in 1977. (bio by: Bobb Edwards)


  • February, 20, 1912


  • January, 01, 1994


  • Cimetiere de St. VĂ©ran
  • France

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