Bridge On The River Kwai, The

Featured In Issue 153, January 2011

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Mild war violence
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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A, B & C
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David Lean
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and loosely based on a true World War II event, "The Bridge On The River Kwai" garnered seven 1957 Academy Awards® including Best Picture. Guinness plays Colonel Nicholson, a by-the-book, almost-crazed British colonel who leads POW's in building a railway bridge for the Japanese in Burma, while Holden and Hawkins are allied commandos sent out to destroy the endeavor. (Gary Reber)

Special features include Crossing The Bridge: Picture-In-Graphics Bonus View Track, "The Making Of The Bridge On The River Kwai" documentary (SD 53:03), The Steve Allen Show with William Holden and Alec Guinness (SD 06:30), The Premiere Narrated by William Holden (SD 01:50), "The Rise And Fall Of A Jungle Giant" featurette (SD 06:13), a USC short film introduced by Holden (SD 15:42), an appreciation narrated by filmmaker John Milius (SD 08:06), a photo montage, additional behind-the-scenes footage, theatrical trailers, up-front previews, and BD-Live functionality. The package also includes a 34-page booklet and replicas of the original theatrical lobby cards.

The picture's 2.55:1 aspect ratio was seen for the first time on the anamorphically enhanced DVD reviewed in Issue 43 and Issue 45 (as a Limited Edition). Those DVDs, both from the same transfer, exhibited image quality that was absolutely improved over the LaserDisc reviewed in Issue 9. The smeared LaserDisc picture completely lacked definition, while fine detail on the DVD was noticed in backgrounds, on faces, as well as into the jungles, and the huts' grass rooftops. Viewed alone, the DVD picture looked pretty good, given the dated imagery. The newly remastered 1080p AVC picture exhibits a significant improvement, with images that are sharper, with excellent detail, contrast, and shadow delineation. The Technicolor fidelity is nicely balanced, though, fleshtones can still appear slightly orange at times. Still, the transfer perfectly renders the earthen hues that depict the dusty terrain setting against which the British soldiers work amidst wooden and bamboo structures. The Japanese flag is an example of the bolder application of color that catches the eye. Resolution is superb, especially revealing in close-ups of facial features, clothing, and object textures. While the picture still looks dated in many scenes, the film has never looked better. Source element artifacts and film grain are minimal, for a cinematic picture that is solid and absolutely satisfying. One cannot imagine any fan of the movie being disappointed with the image quality. (Gary Reber/Suzanne Hodges)

The DVDs featured a Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack that was a remastering effort that provided both a nice restoration and at the same time a welcome update to current audio standards. The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack faithfully represents the remaster. Although the recording is dated, fidelity is rather good, taking into account the original soundtrack's age. Nonetheless, distortion and other artifacts associated with the vintage audio shine through. The music has some low-end augmentation via the .1 LFE, and is generally immersive with moderate surround envelopment. Sound effects are generally balanced toward the screen, with gentle atmospheric spread into the surrounds. Screen-based imaging is subtly yet noticeably wide, with seemingly new effects added to the original audio. The dialogue has no intelligibility issues, but fidelity is compromised and there is some distortion. The music is feebly stereophonic and seems to have been processed in the re-mastering for dimension. This lossless presentation elevates the sonics to a level of excellence not previously achieved. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)