The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport Japanese munitions. Nicholson refuses, despite all the various "persuasive" devices at Saito's disposal. Finally, Nicholson agrees, not so much to cooperate with his captor as to provide a morale-boosting project for the military engineers under his command. The colonel will prove that, by building a better bridge than Saito's men could build, the British soldier is a superior being even when under the thumb of the enemy. As the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that it will benefit the Japanese. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (William Holden), having escaped from the camp, agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British soldiers back to the camp to destroy Nicholson's bridge. Upon his return, Shears realizes that Nicholson's mania to complete his project has driven him mad. Filmed in Ceylon, Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary British filmmaker David Lean, and Best Actor for Guinness. It also won Best Screenplay for Pierre Boulle, the author of the novel on which the film was based, even though the actual writers were blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were given their Oscars under the table. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi~Erin Demers
William Holden and Alec Guinness on The Steve Allen Show
Archival audio of Willliams Holden narrating The Bride on the River Kwai premiere
Although Kwai is one of the greatest movies ever made and this is the best looking version of it any of us will ever see, I can't figure out who at Sony thought this the best choice for their first old classic film to be issued on 4K bluray. I would have thought they'd want to blow people away with their first such release! Kwai. Although an incredible movie, it is a film plagued by image quality issues. Equipment problems and a faulty prime lens (which could not be replaced in time to be of any help) resulted in sharpness issues in many scenes. Excessive film grain problems are only enhanced in 4K. Sony also owns another classic masterpiece by the same director, David Lean (and it too won the Best Picture Oscar), and which was filmed in 65mm (the equivalent of roughly 11k!) and looks amazing. They even have a 4K transfer which I've seen and it is SPECTACULAR! The grain structure of this film shot on large format film as practically microscopic and the sharpness in eye boggling! It would have made a far more impressive choice to usher in Sony classics on 4K bluray than the image flawed Kwai. If you love this film as I do, you will never see a better version available--buy it. But it is still a very weird choice for this format--and one which will blow nobody away.
This is a great, great film. Very realistic War film dealing with the building of the railroad between Burma & China. The Japanese Imperial Armies treatment of prisoners was quite brutal with many a allied soldier dying along the way. The Japanese expected the project to take 5 years to complete but that was before they realized they had a free labor source, with the use of POW's the rail line was laid in 16 months.
Starvation, overloading of work, dismal or absent accommodation and sanitation, and the individual viciousness of Japanese and Korean engineers and guards, took their expected toll. Disease (predominantly dysentery, malaria, beriberi and cholera), brutality (69 men were beaten to death by their guards) and 12 to 18 hour daily work shifts made for a high death rate. In fact, the work went on 24 hours a day with the aid of oil pot lamps and bamboo/wood fires that were kept burning all night long. When looking down on the work area at night it looked like working in the “jaws of hell” - thus the workers gave it the name “Hellfire Pass”. While this film focuses on the building of one bridge on their route to China it still shows realism of the brutality in a realistic manner.
This is a film all young people should watch to show them that there is no Glory in war only hardship and death.
Video - This is a completely remastered image that has not been cropped as in past releases. The edges have been reincorporated giving this Blu-Ray that extra wide ratio. The Colors are neutral as one would expect a jungle to appear. Flesh tones are healthy and look natural. This is the clearest copy I have ever had the pleasure to watch, blowing the DVD out of the water!
Audio - A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) is very front heavy with little going on in the rear fields, still, this soundtrack is very robust and sounds excellent. I had no problems hearing dialog and could not hear hiss, pops or abnormal inconsistencies in this soundtrack. Not bad considering the source was in mono.
Extra's - This Blu-Ray package does not contain the extra's disc that the " Collectors Edition" did so you get a few extra's but not all the trimmings. Heres a list of what you will find on this single disc set.
1.Making of the Bridge On The River Kwai
2.The Steve Allen Show (with Alec Guinness & William Holden)
3.The Bridge narration featuring William Holden
4.Rise And Fall Of A Jungle Giant
5.USC Short Film featuring William Holden
6.An Appreciation by filmmaker John Milius
10.Crossing The Bridge: Picture-In-Graphics track
With a great starring cast, impeccable image quality, sound with great clarity and a decent amount of extra's I definitely recommend this Blu-Ray package!