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The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

86






Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1957
Feature running time: 162 minutes
Genre: War/Drama
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.55:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


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."



Film Synopsis:


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.




My Take:


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.




Parental Guide:


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)

Audio: 82


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:




Video: 90


  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:
'The Bridge on the River Kwai' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.6 mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound that has an average bitrate of 3.0 mbps.

'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.



Bonus Features:

  • 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





Final Thoughts:


'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?!













Lee Weber
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
 

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I vaguely remember this movie and seeing bits and pieces of it when i was still young. Needless to say that's all i needed are small previews to get hooked. Seeing that bridge definitely brings back a lot of memories.


Definitely recommended. Collect!


Cheers
 

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BB had this out the day before official release, so I've had it since then.

Lee is exactly right. A beautiful release for a GREAT film.

Thanks Lee!
 

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This movie is a great disrespect to the prisoners who were there. Hardly like what happened in reality.


The real bridge is made of steel not wood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by DL86 /forum/post/19504900


This movie is a great disrespect to the prisoners who were there. Hardly like what happened in reality.


The real bridge is made of steel not wood.

Its a fictional story with roots in reality--it never claims to be fact or based on a true story. I don't see how that is an insult.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber /forum/post/19505428


Its a fictional story with roots in reality--it never claims to be fact or based on a true story. I don't see how that is an insult.

Perhaps you need to read a bit more. It most certainly is an insult, and is widely regarded as such by Burma railway veterans, military historians and well informed lay men.


The bridge is very real, so any notion that this can simply be regarded as divorced from reality is asinine. The damage to Colonel Toosey and his family still resonates today. Also, the French author decided not to base the commanding officer on the reality of Toosey, but on some utterly irrelevant French officers he despised. The crew themselves began to feel that the book was anti British, this view was certainly shared by Sir Alec Guinness.


I could go on, but I think the point is made.
 

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Thanks for the review. I rarely sign up for pre-releases, but I had to have this Blu-ray and The Sound of Music, so I got them both several weeks ago.


I noticed all the issues you mentioned, the squeezed (or stetched) feeling in a few scenes, almost a bit of over saturation, and some occasional high contrast, but as you also mentioned, this is a glorious Blu-ray and those few oddities are easily forgiven when viewing this presentation as a whole.


This has always been one of my favorite films and I've only had an old VHS tape from an over-the-air broadcast that I've watched for the past 20 years, so this was definitely a treat to watch on my new HD TV. The level of detail in the both the film and the soundtrack is wonderful, and as you noted, the color accuracy is right on the money.


I understand how some of the younger generation might feel this film drags, but that's only because they aren't accustomed to the level of character development offered by this film. The slower pacing allows us to really explore both of the main character's individual journey's, something that today's faster paced films often neglect in favor of showy eye-candy effects.


I had started to buy the DVD last year, but I'm glad I waited and got this Blu-ray release. A winner for sure.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber /forum/post/19505428


Its a fictional story with roots in reality--it never claims to be fact or based on a true story. I don't see how that is an insult.

It is a great movie. I watched a documentary previously on the real bridge and the ex prisoners of the camp who were giving the documentary felt really angry at this film. It didn't really show the true horror of what happened and had a lot of false facts. It was the largest massacre of people outside of Nazi Germany during WWII.


But then again as you said it doesn't claim to be based on a true story.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldmachine /forum/post/19505593


Perhaps you need to read a bit more. It most certainly is an insult, and is widely regarded as such by Burma railway veterans, military historians and well informed lay men.


The bridge is very real, so any notion that this can simply be regarded as divorced from reality is asinine. The damage to Colonel Toosey and his family still resonates today. Also, the French author decided not to base the commanding officer on the reality of Toosey, but on some utterly irrelevant French officers he despised. The crew themselves began to feel that the book was anti British, this view was certainly shared by Sir Alec Guinness.


I could go on, but I think the point is made.

So...did you like the film?
 

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Thanks Lee for reviewing this masterpiece. So many good old movies are coming out on Blu-Ray these days. I can understand why the new ones get reviewed more frequently, but it's great to read about the technical quality of the "Kwai" Blu-Ray. I bought the disk instantly and think the film the film looks better than I've ever seen it. The only technical point that bothers me is that they transfered the entire 2.55 CinemaScope frame which, even on a 94 inch wide projector screen, creates some distance between the viewer and the compelling characters. I used the "masking" on my JVC projector to make it closer to the 2.35 aspect ratio usually used in theaters for anamorphic. That made it easier to get involved with the story. Anyone who loves movies needs to see "The Bridge On The River Kwai."


Col. Toosey was a great officer who saved the lives of his men and created a bridge that benefited Burma long after the Japanese were defeated. The movie is not history. The fictional Col. Nicholson is a self centered sociopath in the film. Laurence Olivier turned the part down saying "The man is a bloody traitor!" The twist in Nicholson's behavior during the middle of the film makes it one of the best morality tales ever made. It is a stunning adventure film which probably would not get made today because it relies on character and atmosphere rather than the explosive, non stop action of current films.


I'm sorry Col. Toosey and his men were hurt by their circumstantial link to the film, but it's not their story. It is a fictional collision of good intentions that make for a mind blowing climax in one of the greatest movies ever made. Yes, I liked it!
 

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I really love Blu-ray. I am now viewing films in my home just as I remembered seeing them in the theater. This one is gorgeous.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DL86 /forum/post/19504900


This movie is a great disrespect to the prisoners who were there. Hardly like what happened in reality.


The real bridge is made of steel not wood.

Who watches cinema for the point of view or accuracy of the event?


Jean Luc Godard said it best, cinema is the most beautiful lie ever.
 

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Be looking forward to this one, I've walked on the bridge a few times recently and really gotten a "shiver"

I can understand some getting touchy about the movie itself. As with all theatres of the Pacific War where many from neighbouring countries didn't return, a huge toll Australians died in this very spot.
 

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The following is a link to a Burma site which describes the true "Bridge over the River Kwai", which is steel and the wooden bridge built by Allied POWs which passes over another river, which was renamed River Kwai based tourist interest following the movie.

http://www.seat61.com/Kwai.htm
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DL86 /forum/post/19504900


This movie is a great disrespect to the prisoners who were there. Hardly like what happened in reality.

The real bridge is made of steel not wood.
WRONG The original bridge was made from wood. The metal bridge was constructed by the Japs after the war as a peace move. The reason I know is I lived in Thailand from 2006-2008 and would get a bus/ train to Kanchanaburi every few weeks just to watch the sunset and relaxe by the river Kwai. The original bridge is about 1/4 mile from the steel structure on the site of the Jeath museum. There is only a little bit of it left now. I have a small piece of wood and one of the metal pins as a keep sake. My grand dad lost both his legs there when he was shot down near Burma.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgeb /forum/post/19507687


I really love Blu-ray. I am now viewing films in my home just as I remembered seeing them in the theater. This one is gorgeous.

Agreed. I just watched this Blu-ray edition of The Bridge On The River Kwai. It looks and sounds like it was just made, not 54+ years ago. It is amazing to remember that they filmed this movie on location in the jungles of Ceylon with bulky Cinema Scope cameras and without the benefit of modern CGI.
 

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Played Bridge last night and I got a few audio pops here and there. These are the kind of explosive pops I've seen reported before due to a problem with the DTS-HD MA processing.


I have a Denon 3808 AVR and 3800 BD player, both of which have old f/w. I've been playing trouble-free since I got the gear over two years ago, so I've had no reason to upgrade so far. My 3808 is decoding (bitstreaming from the 3800). Maybe it's time to upgrade the f/w on both of those components!


Has anyone else heard any loud audio pops?
 
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