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The Bridge On The River Kwai [DVD] 
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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(r), 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.
Based on the true story of the building of a bridge on the Burma railway by British prisoners-of-war held under a savage Japanese regime in World War II, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) is one of the greatest war films ever made. The film received seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Performance (Alex Guinness), for Sir Malcolm Arnold's superb music, and for the screenplay from the novel by Pierre Boulle (who also wrote Monkey Planet, the inspiration for Planet of the Apes). The story does take considerable liberties with history, including the addition of an American saboteur played by William Holden, and an entirely fictitious but superbly constructed and thrilling finale. Made on a vast scale, the film reinvented the war movie as something truly epic, establishing the cinematic beachhead for The Longest Day (1962), Patton (1970) and A Bridge Too Far (1977). It also proved a turning-point in director David Lean's career. Before he made such classic but conventionally scaled films as In Which We Serve (1942) and Hobson's Choice (1953). Afterwards there would only be four more films, but their names are Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Dr Zhivago (1965), Ryan's Daughter (1970) and A Passage to India (1984).
On the DVD: Too often the best extras come attached to films that don't really warrant them. Not so here, where a truly great film has been given the attention it deserves. The first disc presents the film in the original extra-wide CinemaScope ratio of 2.55:1, in an anamorphically enhanced transfer which does maximum justice to the film's superb cinematography. The sound has been transferred from the original six-track magnetic elements into 5.1 Dolby Digital and far surpasses what many would expect from a 1950s' feature. The main bonus on the first disc is an isolated presentation of Malcolm Arnold's great Oscar-winning music score, in addition to which there is a trivia game, and maps and historical information linked to appropriate clips.
The second disc contains a new, specially produced 53-minute "making of" documentary featuring many of those involved in the production of the movie. This gives a rich insight into the physical problems of making such a complex epic on location in Ceylon. Also included are the original trailer and two short promotional films from the time of release, one of which is narrated by star William Holden. Finally there is an "appreciation" by director John Milius, an extensive archive of movie posters and artwork, and a booklet that reproduces the text of the film's original 1957 brochure. --Gary S DalkinSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Occasionally in HD/Blu-ray forums I read ill-informed comments that such and such a film will look rubbish on Blu-ray because it 'pre-dates HD'. Well this one was released in 1957: see for yourselves. The fact is that film has a vastly high resolution to begin with, even greater than that of Blu-ray. As long as the original negative is in a pristine condition, it can't help but look better. Many older movies are given a new lease of life on the format and quite often - thanks to state-of-the-art restoration techniques - can sit proudly alongside the best of today's titles.
BotRK boasts a fine new transfer: "a 4K digital restoration from the original negative with newly remastered 5.1 audio" according to the sleeve notes. If the film does show its age to some degree, it's where the source elements don't quite match and look slightly grainier. This is certainly true of the opening few minutes but don't let that put you off. Once the PoWs have marched into camp, the picture is exemplary and is easily on a par with other highly regarded Blu-rays, such as Zulu or The Sound of Music. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has been mixed with care: any effects are only sent to the surround channels when the scene justifies it and not for their own sake. Music for the most part is confined to the front stage and a crisp dialogue track is anchored to the centre, where it belongs.
As regards the film itself, it won seven Academy Awards and deservedly so.Read more ›
Still one of David Lean's very best films despite its faults, unlike most of his epics, the plot of The Bridge on the River Kwai is focused enough to allow the film its debate on the nature of heroism and command without seeming forced, and is divided clearly into two halves. The first is a battle of wills between two madmen and their respective codes of honour; the British Colonel Nicholson, who seeks to turn defeat into victory, and the Japanese Colonel Saito, whose cruelty comes from his inability to see his lack of shame over their surrender.
Nicholson is so determined to use the building of the bridge as a weapon against his Japanese captors to rebuild his troops' morale that he is blind to the strategic consequences ("I hope these Japanese appreciate what we're doing for them." mutters Donald's medical officer). As Nicholson exceeds his requirements, he assumes Saito's role, even to the point of forcing officers and those on the sick list to work - the very points they had earlier clashed over - forcing the Japanese Colonel to face a surrender of his own. Ultimately reduced to the meek voice of acquiescence at one of their conferences, he alone achieves his objective but only at the cost of his self-respect. He alone realises what he has become.
The second half is more standard adventure fare, as anti-heroic escaped prisoner Holden (his casting clearly based on his similar role in Stalag 17) is press-ganged into returning to the bridge with gung-ho masochist Jack Hawkins to blow it up.Read more ›
The criticism is that this film does not relate any reality. Those who want to know about the real Bridge can go to Thailand and do their own research.
This is principally an entertaining "war" film all about face, principles, the British Empire, life in the army with a not unsympathetic portrayal of the Japanese general who in reality would have represented a more brutal oppressor.
Everything about this film resonates with something you can connect with in daily life:
"Without rules commander there would be no civilisation"
"We're under the heel of a man who'll stop at nothing to get his way"
"As for me, I'm just a slave, a living slave"
"someone deserves a medal sir!"
Some excellent speeches and a panoramic look at Life and Sri Lanka, captured at a time a little more pristine than at present. Extraordinary climax at end with tremendous camera shots for a 50s film. Brilliant!
Famously shot in Peru, where temperatures soared to over fifty degrees during filming. Half of the original crew were replaced mid-way through the shoot after suffering heat exhaustion. Only the stalwart Alec Guinness soldiered on every day and endured the full intensity of the eighteen month film shoot. Rumour has it, kindly Alec would fetch the film crew water from a nearby ravine each morning, where he would trudge twelve miles across rocky terrain armed with just a sturdy pair of shorts and a tin bucket. Guinness was also on hand to offer medical assistance when twelve cameramen all went down with cholera - a disease brought on by drinking poorly sanitised water.
The film follows the adventures of an English army, led by Guinness. They have set up camp in Peru where they have instructions from the British government to build a two foot bridge across a narrow stream, so that cattle may pass safely. Guinness' stiff-upped lipped Colonel Water Blitherington is well-meaning enough, but his insistence on using only natural materials to build the bridge severely slows down the building process. On several attempts, the bridge collapses when it transpires cattle are not sufficiently supported on a bridge made only of leaves and small twigs.
The moment when Guinness is relieved of his command by Lieutenant Horatio Viper (Oliver Reed) is a heartbreaking and tenderly played scene. Some light relief is found in the infamous tune that is whistled by all the troops as they work. Those with a keen ear will note the tune was later used as the main theme for the game show Wheel of Fortune.
Overall, a rewarding and touching film that provides another angle on the Vietnam war.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I watched this film on its original release, at the time I thought It was great as a child. On watching it again I still found it a great film, and has stood the test of time in my... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Clark Ross Ramsay
great item I will be buying some more from these again. Thanks.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Exactly what I wanted, fit for purpose; excellent service too...!Published 2 months ago by Mr. Lynn W. Coles