The Sound Of Music Blu-ray Review
‘The Sound of Music’ waltzes on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a superb 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 70mm widescreen aspect ratio of 2.20:1. The restoration team were able to transfer a copy of the original Todd-AO 65mm (70mm) camera negative at 8k resolution, then work on a 4k version of it for the clean up and colourisation. The results are quite striking. Colours are wonderfully saturated with lush green meadows and healthy looking skin tones. The original grain structure hasn’t been destroyed so we’re reminded that it was shot on film. Contrast is excellent throughout, revealing Cinematographer Ted McCord’s lighting as it was meant to be seen. We get great deep blacks in the night shots. The detail is amazing – just look at the blades of grass in the ‘Do-re-mi’ number. This is what I call quality!
The audio on ‘The Sound of Music’ comes in a wonderful DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix – which sounds amazing, based on the original 6 track recording. During the ‘How do you Solve a Problem like Maria’ number, you can place each of the Nuns across the wide front sound stage. In the Song Contest version of ‘Edelweiss’, the audience is all around you as they join in with the faux-Austrian folk song. As Maria walks up the aisle, the huge pipe organ sounds fantastic, benefiting from the effort of the LFE and nudging the sub-woofer into action. As the Nuns chorus join in, it’s hard not to be moved by the emotion of the occasion (some of us always cry at weddings). The harmony as the children sing ‘The Sound of Music’ to the Baroness is enchanting. Dialogue is beautifully clear too with the occasional bit of directionality to liven it up. You’ll have gathered that I like this soundtrack. I smiled as I listened to it. Sheer magic!
The version submitted for review was the 3 disc UK Region free Blu-ray package. Disc 1 contains the movie and some extras, while Disc 2 holds bonus material exclusively. Disc 3 is a DVD version of the movie and bonus material. The extras supplied with ‘The Sound of Music’ are certainly extensive. It’s almost as if they decided to out-Disney Disney with the bonus material. Time to take a deep breath and dive in.
Your Favorite Things: An interactive celebration
You can choose to watch the movie in ‘Your Favorite Things’ mode which allows you to choose the following types of content you’d like to see during the movie by using the four coloured keys on your remote. Shame there isn’t a key to switch the spelling to UK English. I’d just love to see the American graphic designer who did this spell ‘aluminium’. Anyway, the four content types are:
Making Music: A Journey in Images - This picture-in-picture track includes many never before seen images.
The Sing-Along Experience - Yup, it’s ‘The Sound of Music’ karaoke style with the lyrics on screen during the musical numbers so fans can join in with the songs.
Many a Thing to Know - This gives you the opportunity to discover amazing facts about making the movie and also about the real Maria.
Where was it Filmed? - This gives you the chance to put your knowledge to the test with this interactive quiz..Whatever happened to just watching and enjoying the movie. Oh, I see –that’s old fashioned and non multi-tasking.
Music Machine (HD, 58 mins)
It’s the musical numbers only folks, strung together one after the other – so you don’t have to watch the whole movie if you just want the songs. You can either choose to ‘Play All’ or choose an individual song to play. There are no on screen lyrics here.
Sing-along (HD, 58 mins)
This is it! The musical numbers strung together with the on screen lyrics, so you too can maim that tune!
Here we have a fascinating comm. track from Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, choreographer Dee Dee Wood & Johannes von Trapp (Maria von Trapp’s youngest child. Julie Andrews introduces the track (and she sounds a bit croaky) with her reminiscences of shooting the helicopter shot as she runs up the hill at the start of the movie - and being flattened by the chopper’s downdraught. She tells of the problems caused by the Austrian weather as well as the work the film crew did to a farmer’s field. That stream isn’t real you know. As each contributor joins Julie (mostly edited in) they provide their own memories of the filming – and for every fan of the movie this is a true delight. There are gaps in the commentary, but it gives you the chance to watch the movie.
Audio Commentary by Robert Wise
Director Robert Wise flies solo here and we get to hear his views on the casting, the production problems, dubbing some of the stars singing voices as well as the new songs that were added to the original songbook for the movie. As he talks we hear a music and effects track play in the background – so Julie mouths the lyrics but we only hear the orchestra. There are fairly long silences in the commentary , but the background information he provides from a director’s point of view is interesting.
This is a recreation of the set on Stage 15 at 20th Century Fox that was the great hallway of the Von Trapp family villa. The view can be panned left or right using the remote and each area contains items that may be chosen using the remote to lead us into more detail. The areas are:
Maria in the 21st Century (HD, 7 mins) This short focuses on the success that the show and movie have had, including Singalongs in cinemas. Laura Nenanti, who played Maria on the Broadway stage contributes and it looks back over the artists who have played the part, such as Shirley Jones and Mary Martin. There’s even a Rock-Pop version of the songs. Give me the original any time.
Restoring a Classic: Bloom and Grow Forever (HD, 6 mins) Andrew Oran who was in charge of the restoration at Fotokem explains how they transferred a copy of the original 70mm neg at 8K resolution, then worked on a 4K version for the restoration. The team point out the differences between previous versions and the latest – which involved smoothing out colour shifts from scene to scene as well as removing damage. Improvement can be seen before your very eyes. It’s chalk and cheese!
Edelweiss (HD, 2 mins 30s) Laurence Maslon explains how ‘Edelwieiss’ came about and Theodore Bikel who played the Captain in the Broadway stage show remembers it being included in the show for the first time. We get to hear Christopher Plummer’s test version of the song for the movie. Thankfully it was dubbed by Bill Lee.
I Have Confidence (HD, 3 mins) The song ‘I have Confidence’ was written for the movie by Richard Rodgers (as Hammerstein had died in 1960) to provide a travelogue and bridge a gap. We hear of its development process.
My Favorite Things (HD, 3 mins) This short looks at the reasons for the success of ‘My Favourite Things’ through its imagery. Interestingly it was originally written for the stage show as a number between the Mother Abbess and Maria. Just shows how things change in the movies.
Sixteen Going on Seventeen (HD, 2 mins 20s) An explanation behind the song – who needs it? We do get to see Marni Nixon (Sister Sophia & also Deborah Kerr’s singing voice) as she is today, however. It’s a bit of puff.
After the Escape (HD, 9 mins) We hear how the real Von Trapps didn’t actually climb over mountains to escape. They took the train to Italy from the station behind their house. The Von Trapp family themselves explain what happened after leaving Austria and the difficulties they faced.
R&H: Partnership at its Peak (HD, 4 mins) We hear how the stage show opened in 1959 after the success of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s other shows which all included a message – tackling issues of the day such as prejudice (South Pacific). Both family men, they wanted a great story that involved children. They found it!
Shaping the Story (HD, 5 mins) This covers the development of the script for the show, which was episodic and ends on Ellis Island as they arrive in America. The show might also have been called ‘The Singing Heart’ but for a bit of common sense. We hear about Mary Martin starring in the first stage version and others who influenced the success of the show including understanding more about Nuns.
The Von Trapps Today (HD, 6 mins) The Von Trapps tell the story of how they settled in an old hill farm in Vermont and today run it as a hotel and cross country ski resort.
Climb Ev’ry Mountain (HD, 2 mins) Time to analyse the musical number and how difficult it is to sing.
Stage Vs Screen (HD, 3 mins) The differences between the Stage show and the movie are highlighted including the inclusion of new scenes and new songs. The Nazi invasion portrayed in the movie is more blatant than in the stage version too.
Maria (HD, 3 mins) Here we have a dissection of ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’.
The Sound of Music (HD, 2 mins 32s) Yep, it’s a close up look at the title song.
Maria and the Musical (HD, 5 mins) Here we get a profile of the real Maria who was still alive when the stage show and movie were made. Sounds like she was one tough lady and influenced the stage show through becoming involved. She was kept at arms length thereafter.
Cutting Room Floor (HD, 3 mins) Highlights the three songs from the stage show that were not used in the movie. I recall hearing a record that included ‘An Ordinary Couple’ and wondering why I couldn’t recall it from the film.
Something Good (HD, 2 mins) This focuses on the ‘Something Good’ number that replaced ‘An Ordinary Couple’ in the movie.
The Lonely Goatherd (HD, 2 mins 30s) It’s the yodelling number under the microscope here.
Do-Re-Mi (HD, 4 mins) The number that explains how to sing gets pulled apart here.
So Long, Farewell (HD, 1 min) We get told what the song is all about – unbelievable. I love this movie and even I’m getting brassed off with all these bite sized extras. Why not put all the song material together in one decent length doco?
A Generous Heart (HD, 4 mins) A more detailed history of the real Maria and the Captain from her daughter Maria, now elderly, and other family members. Some Hollywood hokum is dispelled by fact.
Final Dream: Oscar Hammerstein Remembered (HD, 6 mins) We hear about the great working partnership and how ‘The Sound of Music’ was the last show they wrote together. Many people who knew Hammerstein contribute and we hear of the discovery of his stomach cancer. ‘Edelweiss’ was his way of saying goodbye.
Stories from Broadway (HD, 4 mins) A 50th Anniversary celebration of the stage show (that was shot in 2009) that starred Mary Martin. Interesting to see Lauri Peters as Liesl, who later starred alongside Cliff Richard in ‘Summer Holiday’. Theodore Bikel provides his recollections.
Restoring a Classic: A Glorious Sound (HD, 6 mins) This short focuses on the creation of the new 7.1 channel mix at Mi Casa Studios from the original 6 track stereo master, that was until recently considered unplayable. Some of the clean up techniques are shown here. Very interesting.
A City of Song
A wide shot of Salzburg is used as a map of the various filming locations used for ‘The Sound of Music’. Choosing a location via the remote gives us the chance to see the area in more detail, see some footage of it together with some fascinating facts from history and stills from the production shot there.
The Sound of Music: From Fact to Phenomenon (SD, 88 mins) At last, a good chunky doco narrated by Claire Bloom, which probably was produced for a VHS release of the movie – going by the quality. It looks right back to the life of the real Maria and provides us with a thorough dossier on the story, the stage musical and the movie. This includes some nice interviews with the Von Trapp family as well as those involved in the production of the film. Apart from the Audio Commentaries that accompany the movie, this is the most useful of the extras.
My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers (SD, 64 mins) Here Julie waxes lyrical about the movie and its worldwide success as she browses through her copy of the original script. She recalls meeting the real Maria von Trapp when she visited the set in Salzburg. It also meanders off course to discuss the Mary Martin stage show version and includes input from Christopher Plummer. Andrew Lloyd Webber pops up as well. It puts everything in one place, so that some of the content of the short, bite sized clips elsewhere on the disc is duplicated.
Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence (SD, 20 mins) A fairly jovial conversation between old pals, Joolz & Chris as they recall events and people from the production. There’s a fair bit of back slapping goes on but it’s nice to see them together in this context. Christopher Plummer looks as if he can’t take it all seriously as Julie prises the information from him. It’s nice and light.
From Liesl to Gretl (SD, 34 mins) A great chance to see the children from the movie all grown up as they tell us what they do for a living nowadays, where they live and how many kids they have. How time marches on. Kim Karath, who played little Gretl looks amazing. They all swap stories and memories.
Salzburg Sight and Sound (HD, 13 mins) A period promo piece as seen through the eyes of Charmian Carr (Liesl) on location in Salzburg for ‘The Sound of Music’. This looks good from a 35mm full frame source, It’s also a bit of a travelogue for sunny Salzburg as she wanders around Mozart’s house and other places of interest.
On Location with ‘The Sound of Music’ (SD, 22 mins) It’s Charmian Carr again, but somewhat older, as she revisits Salzburg and the locations used in the movie and provides a modern day travelogue.
When You Know the Notes to Sing: A Singalong Phenomenon (SD, 13 mins) A Singalong held at the Hollywood Bowl for the movie’s 40th anniversary in 2005. The wacky fans gather in costume – all 18,000 of them, from Drag Queens to a family of five.
Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall (SD, 7 mins) Two years before Julie Andrews was cast in ‘The Sound of Music’, the 1962 CBS TV special which starred Julie and Carol Burnett included this sketch ‘The Pratt Family Singers’, a parody of the musical which was then in the third year of its Broadway run. Here’s a tele-recording of the sketch.
The Julie Andrews Hour: Julie Andrews and Maria von Trapp (SD, 17 mins) An excerpt from Julie’s 1973 ABC variety show which reunited her with the real Maria as they’d previously met in 1964 during the making of the movie. Maria teaches Julie to yodel, among other things.
Screen Tests (SD, 26 mins) This segment from the 1999 AMC TV special ‘Hollywood Screen Tests’ includes an in-depth look at the casting process for ‘The Sound of Music’ narrated by Robert Culp. We see clips from the children’s screen tests. Over 200 kids were tested. We also see Mia Farrow singing ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ as a test for the role of Liesl. Finally we see Marni Nixon singing a medley of songs from the movie as a guide for vocalists who would dub the songs into other languages for international versions of the film.
40th Anniversary DVD Introduction by Julie Andrews (SD, 2 mins) Just as it says on the tin, Julie talks to camera.
Galleries There are three different galleries of pics covering pre-production, production as well as Promotion & publicity. We see storyboards of the famous opening scene, the ‘My Favorite Things’ number, costume designs as well as masses of studio stills from rehearsal through to the Premiere.
Fox Movietone News Academy Awards (SD, 3 mins) Here we have the strangely silent footage from the 1966 Oscars where ‘The Sound of Music triumphed in five categories.
Trailers and Teasers (SD, 17 mins total) A pile of trailers from 1964, all the way through to the movie’s various re-issues over the years, including its video release.
TV Spots (SD, 2 mins) TV spots for the re-issues.
Radio Spots (Audio, 4 mins) 4 radio spots from the original release through to re-release.
This reviewer is off to lie down in a darkened room to recover from Extraphobia.
The multi-Oscar winning movie musical ‘The Sound of Music’ has at last found its way on to UK Region free Blu-ray with an absolutely stonking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 70mm 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The restoration has worked wonders and we now have rejuvenated colour, cracking contrast, delicious detail with a tiny reminder that it was shot on film. The lovingly remixed DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround track brings out the best in the musical numbers. The separation allows you to place each singer sonically in space. Just wait till you hear that pipe organ at the wedding. There is simply so much in the bonus material stakes that even the most ardent fan of the movie can’t fail to be impressed. Even a Singalong version is included. It’s a classic and probably the best, feel good film with the happiest songs ever. Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and the children steal the audience’s heart with every screening.
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