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Columbia/TriStar should be proud of the job they have done on the Bridge on the River Kwai two-disc set. Though there is a single-disc version without any significant features also available, fans of this film should feel obligated to purchase this supplement-heavy edition. Before getting to the extras though, the image on this title, framed at 2.35:1 and anamorphic, is extremely good but not without some issues. The main problem is an often-evident lack of sharpness and detail. While not present throughout the film, since the majority looks magnificent, the imperfections do stand out. The sound, with both English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks, is also less than perfect. There is next to no surround material, but fortunately the dialogue is centered up front and is distortion free. Also available are two-channel surround tracks in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Optional English, Korean, Thai, and French subtitles are also available. As for the extras, they are as impressive as the movie. The sole extra feature on the first disc is an isolated music track in stereo. It is the second disc that holds the majority of supplemental material. The main point of interest is an excellently detailed making-of documentary that runs nearly an hour. Also included is a brief promotional short called "Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant" and a USC short film on appreciating the art of movie making (featuring The Bridge On The River Kwai in particular), hosted by William Holden. Enthusiastic director John Milius, a great fan of this film, offers his personal insights in a short featurette. Finally, along with a lengthy sampling of posters and lobby cards from around the world, are four theatrical trailers, some selective talent files, and a number of DVD-ROM features. An outstanding DVD set for a very impressive film.
Digitally mastered audio and anamorphic video
English 5.1 [Dolby Digital] and 2-channel [Dolby Surround], French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai
Isolated music score
Trivia: "Experience Building the Bridge"
Maps and military strategy
Screensavers from original movie art
Exclusive documentary: adaptation of Boulle's novel, casting, history of production, score, release, restoration
Original featurette: "Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant"
Movies like this are the reason to upgrade to 4k. Be aware that there is noticeable film grain in the image, but that's because this movie was shot on film. So owning this disk is essentially having a perfectly preserved 35mm print of the film at your disposal to watch at any time. It is glorious, especially when considering that there are no special effects or miniatures on display here. Everything you see is what the camera operators saw, full scale, during shooting. A classic.
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.