One of the great films of all time, The Bridge on the River Kwai tells the story of a captured British Commander and a group of POWs overseeing the construction of a Japanese railroad bridge, knowing the allies will destroy it.
4K UHD 2160p, HDR10, Dolby Atmos 7.1
Original film release 1957
Rated PG 13, Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
2 hours 41 minutes
Starring: William Holden, Alec Guiness, Jack Hawkins
Directed by: David Lean
If you’ve never seen this late fifties epic, it’s frankly a must see. Filled with drama, action, superb performances and memorable music, this film is a textbook example of how great and enduring films are made.
Bridge on the River Kwai is really two stories – the struggle of POWs to build the Japanese bridge, while another story documents the allied plan to destroy the bridge.
By modern standards, there are sections where the film feels slow, especially with that almost 3 hour running time, but it gives characters time to develop and the complex story of allied soldiers in an escape proof Japanese prison camp is unforgettable. Today, attention spans are shorter, but I never found this movie boring.
David Lean was a master of epic films, as he showed later in Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago. His writers (including Carl Forman Michael Wilson), were at the top of their game. The original novel the film is based on was written by Pierre Boulle, who wrote the novel that the Planet of the Apes films were based upon.
Bridge on the River Kwai is one of those ‘they don’t make movies like this anymore’ movies and its reputation has grown over the years, not diminished.
The film has never looked better than it looks on this 4K disc. Those who have the 2011 Blu-ray release will not be blown away – the changes are sometimes subtle, but were still easy to see with a direct A/B comparison.
The original source print has some minor damage, but considering that it’s 60 years old, Sony has done wonders restoring the print. Sometimes there are density and color shifts around dissolves, but as I said, the film has never looked better.
Audio wise, the disc has been given a 7.1 / Atmos mix that can’t be compared to a modern film with a robust soundtrack, but the audio is an improvement over previous incarnation of the movie. There are surround effects, and explosions aren’t earthshaking but still are more than acceptable. Frankly, I’m glad Sony did not add new sound effects, something that studios do on occasion with older films. Overall, despite some tinny sounding dialog, the sound mix is good and it’s the best sound the movie has ever had.
Most of the extras are holdovers from the Blu-ray release of 6 years ago, some were first seen on the original DVD release, but they are all worth a look.
- Crossing the Bridge: Picture-in-Picture Graphics Track
- Making of The Bridge on the River Kwai
- The Steve Allen Show with William Holden & Alec Guinness
- The Bridge on the River Kwai Premiere Narrated by William Holden
- "Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant" Featurette
- USC Short Film Introduced by William Holden
- An Appreciation by Filmmaker John Milius
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers
- The box set also includes a second disc, which is the Blu-ray version of the film.