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When British POWs, led by Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), are forced to build a bridge by their Japanese captors, a psychological tug of war is set in train between Nicholson and the camp’s commander, Colonel Saito (Sessue Haykaw), over the role of the captured officers. While Nicholson uses the bridge building as a means of keeping up morale (‘when the war is over they’ll know how well we Brits built it’ sort of thing), Allied commandos are planning to blow it up for its strategic value and enlist escaped US soldier, Major Shears (William Holden), to help them.

 "Aimed more at the movie buff than the DVD expert, this welcome release of one of the greatest movies of all time delivers a high quality audio visual home version of David Lean’s classic war drama. There are countless stories of captured soldiers from the war, but only a handful stand out and stand up to the rigorous challenge of time. The Bridge on the River Kwai could have been made yesterday (except for its budget, which was then a massive US$2.8 million) and it would still be a masterpiece. That it won seven Oscars in 1957, including Best Picture, is another pointer to its class.

The major documentary on Disc 2 is the best extra, although while the flyer on the two-disc package proclaims that this doco includes material or information on the restoration, this is not so. Not on my disc, anyway. The background to the development of the script from Pierre Boulle’s novel in French is instructive, and the casting process that ends up with Alec Guinness is surprising. Some of the anecdotes are amusing, and some of the data (bridge construction, etc) provides a deeper insight into the process.

While there is the notable absence of detailed commentary by the late Lean, there is enough in this feature to highlight his ambitions and filmmaking style.

The excellence of the DVD itself adds to the lustre of this terrific package: highly recommended."
Andrew L. Urban

Published 18/1/2001

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia


CAST: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Haykawa, James Donald, Ann Sears, Geoffrey Horne

DIRECTOR: David Lean

RUNNING TIME: 156 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

1 single sided, dual layer disc, plus 1 single sided, single layer disc

* Widescreen presentation
* Digitally remastered 5.1 audio
* Isolated score
* Building the Bridge trivia quiz
* Maps and strategy
* LANGUAGES: English, French, German
* SUBTITLES: English, Greek, German, French, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Hindi, Turkish, Danish, Arabic, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Dutch, Norwegian, Hebrew, Bulgarian

* A new 50 minute documentary on the making of the film
* William Holden introducing a short film from USC
* Original featurette on the making of the film
* Filmmaker John Milius discusses the film
* Photo/poster gallery
* Original trailer
* TOTAL TRIVIA: Ann Sears plays a nurse dating William Holden’s character Major Shears. . .

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