The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1957
Feature running time: 162 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.55:1
Audio Format(s): English, French(PAR), Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
Starring: Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Anne Sears
Directed by: David Lean
Music by: Malcolm Arnold
Written by: Screenplay By Carl Foreman & Michael Wilson, Novel By Pierre Boulle
Region Code: A/B/C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 7, 2010
"This is War. This is not a game of Cricket."
When British POWs build a vital railway bridge in enemy-occupied Burma, Allied commandos are assigned to destroy it in David Lean's epic World War II adventure THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Spectacularly produced, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI captured the imagination of the public and won seven 1957 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Alec Guinness), and Best Director. Even it's theme song, an old WWII whistling tune, the Colonel Bogey March, became a massive hit. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI continues today as one of the most memorable cinematic experiences of all time.
What is there to say that has not been said about 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' since its release and Academy Award for best picture in 1957? I can give a look from a movie buff who somehow let this masterpiece slip by. I am lucky to first see this looking better than it ever has, from a new and meticulously digitally restored 4k master, and with a newly remixed 5.1 lossless track. What a way to experience it for my first time.
I can see the fact that I have not yet seen this film blowing some reader mind. I have seen Sir David Lean's other epics, Lawrence of Arabia (many, many times), Dr. Zhivago and even A Passage to India. 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' is the one I feel will get more replays from me. It is a magical film where everything from script, cinematography, direction, music and acting were cosmically aligned perfectly.
The story a simple on. Set in a Japanese prison camp in Burma during WW II, we meet a battalion of British soldiers as they are arriving as POW's to the camp, marching with their pride intact, whistling 'Colonel Bogey March".
Pride, rules, sense of duty, and stubbornness are what get these men through the day as they are involved in this madness of war. Stuck in the woods, doing their 'jobs' is not only their mission but what keeps them sane. The Japanese Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), who is the head of the camp, insists all POW's must work. Lt. Colonel Nicholson's (Alec Guinness) only way to keep his mind sane are the rules. He insist on pointing out the rules of capture as outlined in the Geneva Convention, which he just happens to have in is possession. He tries to convince Colonel Saito to follow them and not make he and his officers do manual labor. A stalemate occurs and Saito puts Nicholson in the "oven" (solitary confinement). All the while a lone American prisoner named Shears (William Holden) has finagled his way onto the sick list and watches this play-out from afar, as he plans his escape.
The POW's are building a bridge over the Kwai river that has a deadline set by the Japanese. Lt. Colonel Nicholson's actions have led to slow work by his captured troops and Saito's fear of missing that deadline. If he misses it, Saito will be disgraced, and by the Japanese code of honor he must commit suicide. Saito gives in, letting Nicholson and his officers off work detail and let's them command the troops as they build the bridge. This leap of desperate faith is just the tip of the iceberg here. This film is deep, epic in length and emotion.
At a running time of almost three hours, 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' plays out effortlessly, like any great film; every moment, character arch and shot worth watching. Sir David Lean is one of the few masters of cinema, proving here why modern filmmakers such as Spielberg, Lucas etc. are still chasing his influence. If you have yet to see this masterpiece, please do yourself a favor and seek it out.
Rated PG for mild war violence
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
'The Bridge on the River Kwai' is a glorious looking Blu-ray achievement. Remastered in 4K for this release, David Leans epic comes to life from Sony home Entertainment. There are a few issues to note. When a scene transitions, the first few seconds look soft and have noise, with some loss in definition that clean up a moment later. There are also a few times the aspect ratio looks off, having some noticeable vertical squeeze. These are rare distractions that only the most picky viewer might make out. I sneaked a peek at a DVD release and this is leaps and bounds above it. Black level and shadow detail are well above average, though there was the rare instance of crush. There are details like the definition on Alec Guinness' beard or on Saito's medals, that you just don't expect to see in a film from the 50's. Colors are natural, bordering on a bit saturated, having that Technicolor look. The detail, strong blacks and colors really pulled this together to look amazing with hardly any noise to be seen. There is a nice level of grain intact for those worried about any video processing. What had me in awe was that, at times, it looked like it was filmed recently. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound is also well ahead of how anyone has yet to hear 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'. Yes it has its limitations, which are source related. The LFE never digs down to the gut and is lacking on gunfire and explosions. The surrounds are used with taste and ease, never forcing what was not ever there before to a new place in the mix. Dialouge is always where it needs to be as are sound's from the front sound-stage. It is a pleasing mix but is missing the sonic depth from a modern recording.
- Making of 'The Bridge on the River Kwai
- The Bridge on the River Kwai Premiere Narrated by William Holden
- The Steve Allen Show with William Holden & Alec Guinness
- Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant- Featurette on the Building of the bridge
- USC Short Film Introduced by William Holden
- Photo Gallery
- An Appreciation by John Milius
- (HD) Crossing the Bridge: Picture-in-Graphics Track
- (HD) Trailers: Theatrical trailer, Re-release Academy Awards trailer, TCM Classic Film Festival, Tommy, and Midnight Express.
- DVD Disc
- BD Live enabled
- 32 Page Digibook with Lobby Cards
'The Bridge on the River Kwai' is as easy a recommendation as it gets. Sir David Lean brings us yet another timeless epic with themes we can all relate to. Filmed beautifully with precision, combined with brilliant performances and a great score, 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' is the cream of the crop and not to be missed. Sony's Blu-ray is glorious, with a beautiful (not perfect) 4K re-master and enjoyable supplements. If you have yet to see this, what are you waiting for?!
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer