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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Bridge aka "Die Brücke" [Blu-ray]

 

(Bernhard Wicki, 1959)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Fono Film

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #763

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:43:14.688

Disc Size: 45,170,538,584 bytes

Feature Size: 30,272,335,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 30

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: June 23rd, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio German 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• New interview with writer Gregor Dorfmeister, on whose autobiographical novel the film is based (22:41)
New interview with filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff about the film’s impact on German cinema (9:52)
Interview from 1989 with director Bernhard Wicki (14:36)
Excerpt from a 2007 documentary by Elisabeth Wicki-Endriss, Wicki’s widow, featuring behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot (9:04)
PLUS: An essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: Bernhard Wicki’s astonishing The Bridge was the first major antiwar film to come out of Germany after World War II, as well as the nation’s first postwar film to be widely shown internationally, even securing an Oscar nomination. Set near the end of the conflict, it follows a group of teenage boys in a small town as they contend with everyday matters like school, girls, and parents, before enlisting as soldiers and being forced to defend their home turf in a confused, terrifying battle. This expressively shot, emotionally bruising drama dared to humanize young German soldiers at a historically tender moment, and proved influential for the coming generation of New German Cinema auteurs.

 

 

The Film:

Bernhard Wicki's directorial debut, this is an excellent little film with little plot and no known names on the roster. In the final days of World War II, German teenagers join the Nazi army in a futile attempt to stop the enemy invasion. A sympathetic officer places the boys as guards of a seemingly unimportant bridge. The seven youths are thrown into battle when American tanks unexpectedly appear and try to cross the bridge. The film has a definite anti-war message.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Despairingly—almost masochistically, as if it were purposely designed to reopen the healing wounds of the German people and make them suffer again some of the final agony of World War II—it tells of the useless courage and senseless deaths of seven teen-age German lads hastily conscripted into the Nazi army and put to defend an old stone bridge in the last few days of the war.

Nothing constructive comes from it, from the rear-guard disaster or from the film, save a sense of the utter futility of the desperate defense and of war. Herr Wicki, taking his subject from a factual novel by Manfred Gregor, does not even convey to the audience a bit of purification at the end. For the last remaining one of his youngsters, who apparently does survive, becomes a brute who slays another German soldier in his maniacal urge to hold the bridge.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Bridge looks quite good on Blu-ray from Criterion. Their 2K restoration can look very impressive in the many close-ups seen later in the film. The image has some softness that seems consistent throughout and must surely be a function of the original source. There are two of three scenes with visible vertical scratches but they don't last long. This is dual-layered with a max'ed bitrate and the contrast is a highlight as well as some heaviness connoting a film-like presence. They are a few instances of depth. This Blu-ray provides a strong 1080P presentation - surely the best it ahs ever looked for home theater consumption.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Criterion remain authentic with the audio transferring via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. The dialogue is flat but the aggressive effects do pack some punch - and there are quite a lot of them later in the film. The notable score with a lot of emotion is by Hans-Martin Majewski. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion load up with some interesting extras. We get a new, 23-minute, interview with writer Gregor Dorfmeister, on whose autobiographical novel the film is based. Criterion visited Bavaria in March 2015, where Dorfmeister, 86-years of age, now lives. He describes how he remembers the key events. There is a 1/4 hour excerpt of an interview from 1989 with director Bernhard Wicki from the German television show Das Sonntagsgesprach (Sunday Talk) and he discusses making The Bridge. There is a new 10-minute interview with filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff about the film’s impact on German cinema and younger Germans and the affection his generation of filmmakers - collectively known as the New German Cinema - had for director Bernhard Wicki. There is a 9-minute excerpt from a 2007 documentary by Elisabeth Wicki-Endriss with Wicki’s widow, featuring behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot. The package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Bridge is a powerful film experience - strongly realized by director Wicki. Children indoctrinated to put their lives on the line for a forgone ideology. I think this was a fabulous choice for Criterion to bring to Blu-ray and seeing it in 1080P only intensifies the film's realism. The supplements add further value and The Bridge is strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

June 2nd, 2015


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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