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(45th Anniversary Edition)

Celebrating its forty-fifth anniversary, THE SOUND OF MUSIC ($35) remains one of the greatest and most popular accomplishments in musical cinema. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a timeless film with universal appeal that has garnered millions of fans, across numerous generations, in the four-plus decades since it was first released. Based upon the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical, this lush cinematic adaptation of the material greatly benefits from superb 65mm Todd-AO cinematography, which shows the Austrian locations in all their glory, as well as having one of the most memorable scores to ever grace any motion picture, not to mention a fine Ernest Lehman screenplay that cuts down on the saccharine, plus the assured direction of the legendary Robert Wise.

Set in Salzburg, Austria, in the last Golden Days of the Thirties and inspired by real life events, THE SOUND OF MUSIC tells the story of a young postulate named Maria (Julie Andrews), who isn’t necessarily an asset to the Abbey in which she lives. Since the Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) is unsure of Maria’s future as a nun, she decides to send the young postulate out into the world to help her discover her true place. From the Abby, Maria travels to home of the widowed Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), where she will serve as governess to the retired Austrian naval man’s seven children. Upon her arrival in the von Trapp home, Maria is aghast to that find the Captain is a harsh martinet, who treats his children as though they were sailors under his command… instead of as his own flesh and blood. Not surprisingly, Maria’s exuberance turns the Captain's ordered existence into utter chaos, but she eventually melts through his icy exterior and restores the loving relationship between the Captain and his children. It is also during this time that Maria wins the Captain’s heart and discovers where her destiny truly lies. The first rate cast of THE SOUND OF MUSIC also features Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Charmian Carr, Daniel Truhitte, Heather Menzies, Nicholas Hammond, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath, Ben Wright, Anna Lee, Marni Nixon and Norma Varden.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE SOUND OF MUSIC available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is taken from an 8K scan of the original 65/70mm film elements and the image has been meticulously rejuvenated in the digital domain, without unnecessary tampering to the filmic qualities. With its grain structure in tact, THE SOUND OF MUSIC looks glorious; second only to seeing it projected in 70mm. That said; the Blu-ray presentation of THE SOUND OF MUSIC blows away all previous home incarnations, which are all rendered sad echoes by comparison. Right up front let, me state that portions of THE SOUND OF MUSIC employed diffusion lenses for its cinematography; hence those portions of the film appear softer than those sections that were shot without filtration. Those portions of the film shot without diffusion lenses are wondrously crisp, highly defined and beautifully textured. All to the intricacies contained in the costumes, and furnishings are clearly visible, something that has been nearly impossible to truly appreciate at home before this release. Colors are warm and attractive, featuring a mildly golden glow that enhances the settings and time period. Flesh tones are always appealing. Blacks are deep and inky, while whites are crisp. Contrast has a heightened quality, while shadow detail is very good for a vintage film. The elements from which THE SOUND OF MUSIC has been transferred appear to have been digitally scrubbed of blemishes, and as I stated above, without compromise to the grain structure. THE SOUND OF MUSIC features a wonderful grained quality that maintains a wholly film-like and organic appearance.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, THE SOUND OF MUSIC sounds better here than it ever has in the past. While remixed for modern home theater equipment, the sound still maintains the flavor of the original multi-track sound, with its big, wide soundstage and some instances of directional dialogue elements. Channel separations are well implemented and directional vocals move across the front in a seamless way to match onscreen locations. The surround channels add overall ambience and reinforcement to the musical passages. Thanks to the lossless encode, the film’s music and songs are really allowed to shine. There is more clarity and nuance to the orchestrations than I remember hearing, and overall the music and vocals just come across as being more full bodied. Even the bottom end of the track has more heft than I remember. Speaking voices are cleanly rendered, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. An English 4.0 Dolby Surround track is also provided, as are French DTS 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, some of which have been ported from the previous DVD releases. Starting things off is an enhanced viewing mode entitled Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration (requires a Profile 1.1 player). In this mode one has access to Making Music: A Journey In Images (picture-in-picture with storyboards and photographs), The Sing-Along Experience (on screen lyrics), Many A Thing To Know (trivia and factoids) and Where Was It Filmed? (quiz). Next, there are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with director Robert Wise, while the second one includes cast members Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, plus choreographer Dee Dee Wood, and Johannes von Trapp. For fans of the music and songs, additional Music Machine and Sing-Along modes are provided to allow those so inclined to skip past all that pesky plot and characterization. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental materials. Newly produced, Musical Stages offers access to the following brief programs: Maria In The 21st Century, Restoring A Classic: Bloom And Grow Forever, Edelweiss, I Have Confidence, My Favorite Things, Sixteen Going On Seventeen, After The Escape, R&H: Partnership At Its Peak, Shaping The Story, The Von Trapps Today, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, Stage Vs. Screen, Maria, The Sound Of Music, Maria And The Musical, Cutting Room Floor, Something Good, The Lonely Goatherd, Do-Re-Mi, So Long, Farewell, A Generous Heart, Final Dream: Oscar Hammerstein Remembered, Stories From Broadway and Restoring A Classic: A Glorious Sound. Focusing on the film’s location, A City Of Song is another newly produced collection of brief programs that features: Mellweg: Maria's Mountain, Nonnberg: Maria's Abbey, Residenzplatz: Scenes Of Joy And Sorrow, Siegmundplatz: The Horse Pond, Von Trapp Villa: A Place Of Harmony, Frohnburg: A Facade Fit For Hollywood, Gazebo: A New Home At Hellbrunn, Mozartsteg - A Bridge To The Past, Werfen: Planning A Picnic, Winkler Terrace: The Ultimate View, Mirabell Gardens: Do-Re-Mi-Rabell, Leopoldskron: Story Of A Lake, Salzburg Marionette Theatre: Pulling Strings, Mondsee Cathedral: A Marriage Of Fact And Fiction, Rock Riding School: Staging A Festival, St. Peter's Cemetery: Safe Haven, Rossfeld: A Dangerous Escape and The Sound Of Music Tour: A Living Story.

Taken from previous DVD releases come the following Vintage Programs: The Sound Of Music: From Fact To Phenomenon, My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers, Julie Andrews And Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence, From Liesl To Gretl, Salzburg Sight And Sound, On Location With The Sound Of Music, When You Know The Notes To Sing: A Sing-Along Phenomenon, Rodgers And Hammerstein: The Sound Of American Music, Rodgers And Hammerstein: The Sound Of Movies, Location Interviews, Reissue Interview With Julie Andrews And Robert Wise, A Telegram From Daniel Truhitte and Ernest Lehman: Master Storyteller. In the section entitled Rare Treasures, one will find the following: Julie And Carol At Carnegie Hall: The Pratt Family Singers, The Julie Andrews Hour: Julie Andrews And Maria Von Trapp, Screen Tests, 40th Anniversary DVD Introduction By Julie Andrews, and Pre-Production, Production & Publicity Galleries. Finally, the Publicity section offers: Fox Movietone News Academy Awards, Trailers & Teasers, TV Spots and Radio Spots. Disc three offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a timeless, classic musical that has finally been provided with a glorious presentation worthy of its status. The Blu-ray is visually and aurally magnificent, plus it offers a wondrous supplemental package. Absolutely, positively recommended.


The Sound of Music (45th Anniversary Edition) (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1965)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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