I don’t really think The Sound of Music needs an introduction, does it? Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know this movie, even in the vaguest of terms? A smash hit when it was originally released over forty years ago, won a nice helping of awards and, ever since, has been a staple on both home video and television, there’s hardly a soul out there who doesn’t know what The Sound of Music is all about. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, it’s been lampooned enough that, well, you likely already know it without realizing it. But now that Fox Home Entertainment has turned out a pretty stunning Blu-ray, there’s no better time than now to be introduced, or perhaps reacquainted, with this prestigious motion picture.
Experience the world’s most beloved family film as never before. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment toasts the 45th anniversary of the five-time Academy Award®-winning The Sound Of Music with this new highly-anticipated Blu-ray Disc . The film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, based on this true-life story, features Julie Andrews lighting up the screen as Maria, a spirited young woman who leaves the convent to bring love and music to the home of Captain von Trapp and his seven children. Her charm and songs soon win the hearts of the children and their father but when Nazi Germany unites with Austria, Maria is forced to attempt a daring escape with her new family. Directed by Robert Wise and co-starring Christopher Plummer, the film garnered five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. A heartwarming story full of cherished songs such as “My Favorite Things,” “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” “Edelweiss” and the title song, the film graces six different Top 100 lists by the American Film Institute including Musicals, Songs and Movies.
What else can really be said of this movie? A movie that, to this day, continues to remain surprisingly popular. As our world changes and our culture adapts, The Sound of Music seems to be one of those constants, one that pops up every once in awhile. It’s been released a multitude of times on home video, yes, but each time is apparently sells enough to guarantee another release a few years down the road. This latest Blu-ray release certainly won’t be the last for the movie, but that doesn’t mean it should be passed up. Whether this is a favorite movie or one you’re looking to give a spin for the first time, you really can’t go wrong with The Sound of Music.
Based on a true story, this musical adventure is pure escapism. Every step of the way, the lightness of it all, is the pure essence of escapism. Even the climax of the film, which does lean a little dark for what’s a predominantly bubbly and happy-go-lucky flick, goes down easy, ending on a note punctuated with the smiley-face. Now, it’s easy to brush the film off as such, but the film’s utterly infectious ways hides a touching story with a surprising amount of character development and layers. Yes, every switch, be it a character becoming less cold to another, is ear-marked by a not-so-subtle tune, you just can’t overlook how the film ensures each change, each development, each little twist is natural. Whether it’s father of the von Trapp family slowly opening up to his children and their new governess, or his children growing as they discover a whole new world thanks to the governess Maria, it all plays out as it should and never feels forced. And, more importantly, it’s hard to look away and ignore.
And that’s because, well, every tune has a way of just drilling into your head for days on end. I guarantee you’ll be humming songs from this film days after you’ve watched it without realizing. And by no means is that a bad thing. Just how can you forget something “Do-Re-Mi” or “My Favorite Things?” Even if you haven’t seen this movie I promise you’ve heard these tunes. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. The music, the amazing scenery and cinematography, the fine performances and lovable characters, everything just fits together like a best possible glove.
The Sound of Music, as easy as it is to describe, can be pretty hard to explain. As I’m sure this rambling mess of a review has shown, there’s so many different factors to this movie that, apart, might not work. But here, together, it just works in perfect harmony. The songs, the cast, the story, all of it. Each benefits the other and in the end creates a pretty unforgettable movie. No matter how old this film may be, no matter how out of date it may be deemed, it’s a truly timeless tale done to perfection. I dare you not to come out of this film with a smile on your face, not to find yourself humming along to the tunes during or afterwards. It’s a film that really takes you away to someplace else entirely, it allows you to escape to somewhere so foreign but, at the same time, so welcoming.
As I said above, so much has already been said about this film, and far more adequately and thoroughly than I. The Sound of Music is one of those films that’s remembered as a classic for a reason. It hits all the right marks, never deviates or falters even a shade. It brings us delightful character, each as defined as the next, each with their own quirks and stories. Each song is flawless, each note it pitch-perfect, and every lyric tells a story. And, besides, how can you beat that perfect, exhilarating opening to the film? There are reviews out there far better than this one that can expertly describe this movie, but its one best left to be discovered on your own – it truly is. Even rediscovered! With all the grit, grim and dirt that seems to flood out theaters and everyday life, a little piece of escapism, with such an excellent soundtrack, seems like a good idea every once and while, doesn’t it? Well, you’ve found it here with The Sound of Music. Highly Recommended.
The Sound of Music arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case housing the discs (three total, two Blu’s and one DVD) and a whole mess of goodies if you get the big box set; for this review I just got the stand alone release which is really all the casual viewer of this film will truly want—the rest is just icing for the diehards. The overall packaging presentation, however, is very well done and put together and includes the iconic image of Julie Andrews mid-twirl in a field.
Video is absolutely astounding and the amount of work that went into restoring the image to this clarity is absolutely stunning. Considering this film is from the ‘60s, there’s really no reason it should actually look as good as it does; everything is pristine, sharp and highly defined and there truly isn’t a frame in the film (well, give or take a few early ones) that doesn’t look as new as something filmed today. I’ve been blown away by Fox’s Blu-ray transfers in the past of older films (see Patton for one) but this just continues to solidify the studio as one of the best when it comes to restoring films. Granted they do botch it up occasionally, but when they get it right, as they have with The Sound of Music, it is without a doubt some of the best visuals the format has to offer.
Not surprisingly for a film with “Music” in the title the audio track that accompanies this film is pristine as well. Culling from an original six-track stereo mix this Blu-ray release utilizes a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that pans, zooms, and zips around the room with exceptional grace and clarity. I’m not sure how a film this old was able to be kept in such grand condition with flawless dialogue and vocals on the songs but however they did it…I wish more films were maintained with such care. For anyone who grew up watching this film on VHS tapes, this Blu-ray (with the right home theater setup) will truly bring it to life like never before.
• Feature Film Remastered in 1080p Hi-Def with 7.1 DTS-HD Sound
• Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration — All-New Immersive Viewing Experience with Behind-the-Scenes Images, On-Screen Lyrics, Trivia Track and Location Quiz
• Music Machine Sing-Along
• Audio Commentaries with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Director Robert Wise
• Musical Stages: Creating The Sound of Music — All-New Interactive “Backlot Tour” with In-Depth Featurettes on the Songs, the Stage Show & Movie, the Film and Sound Restoration and the Real-Life von Trapp Family
• A City of Song — Virtual Map of Filming Locations in Salzburg, Austria
• Vintage Rodgers & Hammerstein and The Sound of Music Programs
• Screen Tests, Rare Treasures, Interviews, Photo Galleries & More!
Disc 3 (DVD)
• Feature Film In Standard Definition
o Newly Remastered Picture and Sound
o Optional Sing-Along Track
That list is, of course, abbreviated and taken from the press release. The full listing is another three or four dozen bullet points of individual pieces that are all presented in 1080i for the most part (sparring the older “Vintage” pieces which are in standard definition) and range from a few minutes in length to over an hour. All total you’re looking well over half a days’ worth of extra packed onto all of these discs. Whether you have the patience (or desire) to look over every second of these extras will largely depend on how much you enjoy the films to begin with, but the fact that there is so much here to experience and view is simply a massive boon for the diehard fans of the film. Those like me who only just now saw this film for the first time (outside of sporadic TV airings) will likely be put off by the amount of extras and only cherry pick a few, but regardless this is a Highly Recommended set as it really is the type of film that just keeps on giving and giving with each viewing.
The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition is now available on Blu-ray.
Film review by James Harvey
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter