Sound of Music, The: 40th Anniversary Edition (1965)

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Released 28-Nov-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Introduction-Julie Andrews - Discs 1 And 2
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Main Menu Audio-Robert Wise (Director)
Audio Commentary-Robert Wise (Director)
Audio Commentary-Cast And Crew
Song Lyrics-Sing-Along
Music Highlights-Song List
Web Links-4
Featurette-My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers
Featurette-Julie Andrews And Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence
Featurette-On Location With The Sound Of Music
Featurette-From Liesl To Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion
Featurette-When You Know The Notes To Sing: Singalong Phenomenon
Featurette-Biography - The Von Trapp Family: Harmony And Discord
Featurette-Restoration Comparison
Featurette-Mia Farrow Screen Test
Gallery-Storyboards
Gallery-Photo-Behind the Scenes
Gallery-Lobby Cards And One Sheets
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 167:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:02)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Wise
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Julie Andrews
Christopher Plummer
Richard Haydn
Peggy Wood
Eleanor Parker
Case ?
RPI $32.95 Music Richard Rodgers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
English Song Lyrics
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Sound of Music was never going to be a sure thing. The play on which the film is based only received fairly lukewarm reviews on its premiere and it was considered ‘especially sugary’. In Charmian Carr’s (who played Liesl in the film) excellent book ‘Forever Liesl’, screenwriter Ernest Lehman recalls that some of his colleagues were less than encouraging when they found out he was writing a screenplay for The Sound of Music. Burt Lancaster’s reaction was “Jesus! You must really need the money”. Renowned director Billy Wilder (who was actually considered at one stage to direct the film) quipped; “My dear boy, no musical with a swastika in it can ever be successful”.

    In March of 1965 The Sound of Music opened in 131 theatres across America. Despite a few negative early reviews from the east coast critics it became an almost instant success, its first run being an almost unheard of 5 years. It is estimated that 1 billion people have seen The Sound of Music.

    Many even saw it multiple times during its initial release. My uncle for example estimates he saw it at least a half dozen times when it first came out. What is it about The Sound of Music that made it so popular? When researching the movie for this review I asked my uncle what it was about The Sound of Music that had him going back time after time. He said that it was the feel-good factor of the film and the fantasy. (He also admitted to having a small crush on Julie Andrews at the time.)

    For myself I don’t think I ever would have admitted to being a fan of the film growing up but I did end up sitting right through the film several times when it played on television. I can’t really recall any other films I did that for so I guess it must have subconsciously appealed to me. Watching the film now I find it an undeniably fun film, especially the first half. The second half reinforces our faith in human compassion and in morality.

    In real life the von Trapps may not have climbed over any mountains to escape the Nazis but the magnitude of that decision was no less monumental. In the space of one week the von Trapps received three offers from the Nazi party. Firstly, as shown in the movie, Captain von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy; secondly, the eldest son, who had graduated in medicine, was offered a position in a Vienna hospital to replace a Jewish doctor and finally the von Trapps were invited to sing for Adolf Hitler at his birthday celebrations. It was clear that turning down the Nazis three times was not going to be without consequence and so the von Trapps, carrying only a single suitcase each, boarded a train for Italy with the declared intention of simply going on holiday, but in reality fully aware they would never return to their homeland of Austria again.

    Whether it is the songs, the music, the story or simply the feel good nature of this film, The Sound of Music is an undeniable and deserved classic. It is a film one can come back to again and again and always feel a bit better afterwards. Now that is saying something.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is the second time The Sound of Music has appeared on DVD in Region 4. The original release was marred by excessive edge enhancement and a fair amount of digital graininess. This new release is a very nice improvement over that release, featuring a cleaner and more detailed picture and with greatly reduced (although sadly not completely eliminated) edge enhancement.

    The image is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.20:1 which matches the original 70mm aspect ratio of the film. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is generally fairly sharp and nicely detailed although not as sharp as I would have otherwise expected given that this film originated on 70mm film stock. Director Robert Wise does however mention in the audio commentary that he did deliberately go for a soft focus look to the film so this may explain the slightly soft appearance of the image.

    Colours were generally well saturated and accurate although I did notice a little bit of instability in the colour such as in the scene between Maria and the Captain at 70:59 where they discuss the children’s play clothes. Skin tones sometimes took on a slightly too pinkish tone but overall I was quite pleased with the colours. Shadow detail is very good for a film of this age.

    While greatly improved over the previous release some edge enhancement is still present in this transfer. For example, an overhead shot of Nuns walking in a courtyard at 7:23 clearly features a halo like border around each of the nuns and when the Captain opens the doors to find Maria in the ballroom at 23:32 it clearly features a halo effect around parts of his body. As I said, it is a huge improvement over the original release and it is nowhere near as distracting or annoying as the previous version. Compression artefacts are otherwise kept well under control in this transfer.

    Despite the fact that this transfer is meant to be the result of a restoration, some film artefacts are still present, most notably in the opening sequence of Salzburg and surrounds where a number of vertical scratches are still very much apparent.

    The English Subtitles provided are white and easy to read and follow the onscreen dialogue very well. Separate song only subtitles are provided for the sing-along version.

    This is a dual layered disc with RDSL encoding. The layer change occurs at 74:02. This is reasonably well located at a cut during a scene although I feel it could have been a bit better placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    For a film of its age the sound quality of the soundtrack is quite good.

    English is provided in both Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kb/s and Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kb/s. Both are quite good but the Dolby Digital 5.1 is slightly more dynamic and exhibits slightly superior fidelity. The two commentary tracks are provided in English Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kb/s,

    Dialogue was clear and always easy to understand. Interestingly, the dialogue, and even the singing, spans the front three speakers. For people like myself with front projection systems where the front speakers span the width of the screen the directional effect of the dialogue is terrific. For people with standard televisions where the front left and right speakers are some distance from the screen the effect may be less appreciated. This effect was slightly less pronounced on the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack so if you find this a problem you might want to try that soundtrack instead.

    Making specific mention of the music in this film seems almost superfluous here. You probably already know and maybe even love the songs and music by Richard Rogers (with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein). The Sound of Music simply would not be The Sound of Music without them.

    The soundtrack is very front oriented with the surround channels only really being used for musical ambience and occasional sound effects. The subwoofer too is only used fairly sparingly although it does seem to add nice weight to the thunder in the My Favorite Things bedroom scene.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The original release of The Sound of Music contained a generous collection of extras. Sadly, however, with the exception of the Robert Wise commentary, none of them are carried over to this new special edition. Given this, fans of the movie will want to hang on to the original DVD if they want the most comprehensive collection of extras available. The good news, however, is that the extras that are featured here are quite extensive and of very high quality.

Disc One Menus

    Disc one opens with an Anti-Piracy advert and just to make sure we get the message it is followed by yet another static message about piracy and the penalties. We then get a letterboxed introduction by Julie Andrews about the film. The menus are 16x9 enhanced and the main menu features footage and the music of Do-Re-Mi from the movie.

Audio Commentary/Isolated Music Soundtrack – Robert Wise (Director)

    This is the same commentary that first appeared on the 30th Anniversary Laserdisc and then on the original DVD release. It features music only versions of the songs in the film and in between we get discussion from director Robert Wise. He is quite interesting as he discusses the production of the film, the casting process, scenes that got deleted and why, how the film varied from the stage play and more.

Audio Commentary – Julie Andrews (Actress), Christopher Plummer (Actor), Charmian Carr (Actress), Dee Dee Wood (Choreographer) and Johannes von Trapp (a von Trapp)

    This audio commentary is hosted by Julie Andrews who is the most prominent participant in it. She occasionally introduces short contributions by others indicating this commentary has been edited together from various sources such as interviews. There are a large number of gaps in the commentary where nothing is said. Much of what is discussed here is covered in other extras in this DVD set and I would suggest that those not wishing to explore absolutely every extra may get more value from the documentaries on disc 2.

Sing-along

    This option gives you subtitles for the songs so you can sing-along yourself at home.

Song only chapter list

    This provides direct access to the 24 songs in the movie. At the end of the song you are returned to the menu.

Disc Two Menus

    Disc two opens with an Anti-Piracy advert followed by yet another static message about piracy and the penalties. We then get a letterboxed introduction by Julie Andrews about the extras on the DVD. The menus are 16x9 enhanced. The first menu shows footage of Julie Andrews singing I Have Confidence from the film. The second menu is static but contains an instrumental version of The Sound of Music in the background.

My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers (63:19)

    The title of this documentary is a bit misleading. While it does open with Julie Andrews reminiscing about The Sound of Music and discussing the film's appeal, the documentary is far wider ranging. It is in fact a retrospective documentary that explores everything from the origins of the film, the production of the movie, its affect and impact on those who participated in it as well as how they feel about it now. I won’t say any more because if you only watch one feature on this disc, this is the one to watch. It really is a top notch little documentary and is not to be missed. It is presented at 1.33:1.

Julie Andres and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence (19:25)

    Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer get together to discuss the film. While they are both very complimentary of each other they still manage to convey a few interesting anecdotes about making the film. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

On Location with The Sound of Music (22:34)

    This featurette actually makes a nice bookend to Salzburg Sights and Sounds that appeared on the original DVD. Salzburg Sights and Sounds was actually made during the production of the film and showed Charmian Carr (Liesl) visiting many of the attractions of Salzburg. This new featurettes has Charmian Carr revisiting many of those locations and it also looks at the impact The Sound of Music has had on the city of Salzburg. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

From Liesl to Gretel: A 40th Anniversary Reunion (32:07)

    The actors and actresses who played the von Trapp children in the movie reunite 40 years later and reminisce about the film, about their experiences making it and how it has impacted their lives since. Fan of the movie will probably be interested in what the cast have done since the movie. Interestingly a number of them are now wanting to get back into acting. Of interest to local readers is the fact that Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich now lives and works in Australia. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

When you know the words to sing: A Sing-along Phenomenon (12:15)

    This short featurette focuses on a showing of the Sing-along version at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and shows the extent to which some fans will go to get into the spirit of the film. It’s kind of quirky but probably one of the features you can afford to miss if you don’t wish to explore every extra on this disc. It is presented letterboxed.

Biography – The Von Trapp Family: Harmony and Discord (45:51)

    This documentary from the American A&E network gives us the ‘true’ story behind the Von Trapps. I use the work true in quotes because it still perpetuates a few of Hollywood inaccuracies about the story. For instance, it states that Maria went to the von Trapps to be governess to the seven children when in fact she originally came to the household as a tutor to Maria who was weakened and unable to go to school due to the scarlet fever that had taken the life of her mother. These are minor things but given that the documentary claims to be showing the reality it’s a pity the research wasn’t a bit better. Overall, however, it’s a fascinating look at the real von Trapps and their history. It includes a lot of their recordings, usually as background music. Interestingly, one of the songs given the von Trapp treatment is Waltzing Matilda. The documentary includes the participation of a few members of the family including Maria (the daughter) and Johannes Von Trapp. It is presented at 1.33:1.

Restoration Comparison (6:06)

    This compares the original 1993 film transfer to the 2005 transfer of the film. As is usual with these comparisons there is a great improvement between the two with the original showing far greater effects of age and wear. You will however have to read a lot of text off the screen first describing the restoration. Given the medium it would have been nice to have somebody involved in the restoration describe the process like it was presented on the Vertigo DVD where Robert Harris and James Katz described the restoration of that film. This featurette feels very impersonal and I suspect many won’t persevere reading the two and half minutes of text that precede the restoration comparisons here.

Mia Farrow Screen Test (0:33)

    Mia Farrow was at one stage considered for the role of Liesl in the film. This is her screen test for that role. She sings 16 going on 17 and does a bit of dance.

Still Gallery

    A very large collection of still images categorized into either Storyboard Gallery, Behind the Scenes Gallery or Lobby Card and One Sheets.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The two releases seem to be almost identical except that the Region 1 release also includes French and Spanish soundtracks, Spanish Subtitles as well as various trailers. While it would have been nice to have these trailers on the Region 4 disc, these are still fairly minor omissions. It nonetheless gives the Region 1 a slight advantage and thus I will award the Region 1 as the version of choice. You may however see things differently and choose the Region 4 for the superior PAL resolution which would be a valid reason for preferring our release.

Summary

    The Sound of Music is an undeniable classic that deserves a place in every film buff's collection. The video and audio transfers are both excellent as is the generous extras package. Even if you have the previous release I believe the improved transfer and new extras makes this a worthwhile purchase for all DVD collectors.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Gauntlett (read my bio if you're bored.)
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVPNS575-S Progressive Scan, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE900E HD LCD Projector onto 90" 16x9 Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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