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The Bridge On The River Kwai [DVD] [2000]

4.6 out of 5 stars 223 customer reviews

Price: £2.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Writers: Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson, Pierre Boulle
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Format: Subtitled, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Bulgarian, Danish, English, French, German, Hindi, Icelandic, Swedish, Turkish
  • Dubbed: French, German
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Dec. 2000
  • Run Time: 161 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004YN4L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,381 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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 Dalkin

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
If further proof be needed that when it comes to Blu-ray, the old ones are the best ones, along comes this superb version of The Bridge on the River Kwai.

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.
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Format: Blu-ray
"Take a good look, Clifton. One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people who use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it - not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clifton, even in captivity."

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.
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Format: DVD
Directed by David Lean, this film focuses on an attempt by a team led by Major Warden (Jack Hawkins) to destroy a strategically important bridge over the Kwai river in Burma in 1943, a bridge built by British prisoners during World War II. An epic in every possible sense, the inhumanities of the Japanese are probably underplayed somewhat so that we can focus on two essential conflicts of will, one between Japanese Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) and the other between Warden and Shears (William Holden) who is forced to join Warden's team and thereby avoid a court martial for impersonating a U.S. naval officer. It should also be noted that Nicholson struggles with a conflict between his obligations as a British officer (i.e. to resist his enemy in any and every possible way) and his determination to demonstrate British superiority over the Japanese captors. Colonel Saito has his own conflicts, notably between imposing his will on Nicholson and the British troops and getting the bridge built. At the heart of this magnificent film are several moral dilemmas which help to explain why we become so emotionally involved with its narrative.
One of the many pleasures of seeing this film (especially in its DVD format) is the juxtaposition of lush tropical settings with the raw emotions of those who are building the bridge and those who are determined to destroy it. I am also struck by how carefully Lean develops the semi-adversarial relationships between Nicholson and Saito and between Warden and Shears. Although "Madness... Madness" is frequently quoted as an evaluation of those relationships, I disagree.
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