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The Sound of Music

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 29-06-2010


  • ISBN13: 0024543208389
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Julie Andrews in the heartwarming true story that has become a cinematic treasure. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” Julie Andrews is Maria, the spirited, young woman who leaves the convent and becomes a governess to the seven unruly 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.Amazon.com
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The Sound of Music

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For some reason The Sound Of Music has never had any luck in home video release. It has never achieved the picture quality commensurate with its status. The 40th Anniversary Edition seemed like the opportunity for it to finally shine. Alas no. Yes it is a marked improvement over the previous DVD which image-wise was deplorable. But it is far below what we know is possible in film restoration today.

What’s good about the new SoM transfer? Well for starters they’ve removed the much criticised electronic edge enhancement which infuriated so many people in the previous DVD. This is artificial sharpening which looks good on small screens but produces halos around objects when seen on larger displays. The result is a slightly softer image but definitely an improvement over the old DVD. And they’ve made some effort at restoration. The picture looks visibly brighter. The color timing which was way off in the previous DVD has been partially corrected – but not totally. Skin tones which looked overly red previously, now appear closer to normal. However this color correction is haphazard. Some scenes have skin tones looking very natural, others still have that ruddy, sun-burnt look. The night scenes especially have skin tones taking on an ugly muddy-red appearance. In short, the color timing for the new DVD is inconsistent. Ironically, one drawback of the present color-correction is an overly-accurate representation of the original colors in some scenes – in the Edelweiss reprise at the Salzburg Folk Festival, Angela Cartwright’s face (Brigitta) takes on a faint greenish-yellow hue under the stagelight. In the previous DVD this had been corrected to give everyone a uniform pink glow but not in the present DVD. It may be a truer reflection of stagelighting but it is not at all pretty to look at. So in terms of color-correction, in trying to please everyone, the technicians ended up pleasing no one. Black levels however are spot on. Level of detail is also fairly good, especially shadow detail in the darker scenes, definitely better than in the previous DVD but again below what we’ve come to expect of DVD transfers on the cusp of the Hi-Def era. This is especially so considering that SoM was shot, not on 35mm film like other movies, but on 70mm which should, if properly handled, enable us to see detail that would eclipse the very latest Hollywood productions, almost all of which are shot in 35mm today. Sadly it does not.

Sound-wise, the THX Certified 4.1 Surround Sound of the previous DVD has been replaced by a 5.0 Surround. Note the loss of the .1 LFE (subwoofer). This won’t make much difference as SoM does not make much use of the LFE channel but those using less expensive sound systems may end up losing the lower-most frequencies as the front speakers of these systems often cannot reproduce the lowest frequencies that will now be passed on to them. One also wonders why they did not use all 6 channels of the original Todd-AO soundtrack for this DVD. To find out in the Extras that they actually remixed the original 6 track audio into a new DTS soundtrack which we are not given here is only to add insult to injury. Apparently Fox is reserving the DTS soundtrack for its upcoming High-Definition version of SoM due out next year.

The selling point of this 40th Anniversary Edition must be the Extras of which there are tonnes. What I appreciate most in the current set of Rodgers & Hammerstein Anniversary releases is the inclusion of a separate songs-only chapter list. I hope this becomes a feature for all future musicals. An interesting curiosity in this DVD is the ability to hear and sing along with the film in both French and Spanish with the appropriate lyrics appearing beneath much like in a karaoke-singalong. Although the French soundtrack was already present previously, this is the first time I’ve heard the songs sung in Spanish. There are hours of documentaries. I especially liked Charmian Carr’s new documentary “On Location with The Sound of Music,” and the children’s reunion, “From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion,” where the now grown-up children reminisce about their time on the set and point out all the little bloopers they made onscreen. It’s heartening to learn that they’ve all turned out very well indeed. Unfortunately with all the new Extras, some of the features from the previous DVD had to be dumped. By far the saddest loss was the exclusion of Charmian Carr’s delightful 1967 documentary “Salzburg Sight and Sound”.

The Sound Of Music underwent a complete restoration in 2002 for its inclusion in the Academy Film Archive (A.M.P.A.S.). That 65mm restored print was first exhibited in early 2003. From the Film-to-Video restoration comparison included among the Extras, it would seem that this is the restoration used in the DVD. However it also shows how much more muted the colors on the film elements were even after restoration. It is only after the video transfer and color correction that the colors come to resemble what is seen here. The telecine color-timer was obviously over-enthusiastic with the color correction, pumping the colors up beyond what is natural.

For those contemplating getting the 40th Anniversary Edition, do note that Fox has announced that The Sound Of Music will be re-released next year on its new Blu-Ray High-Definition DVD. That’s where the new restoration will re-emerge, hopefully with a more accurate telecine transfer and the newly remixed DTS soundtrack. If you can, it may be wiser to wait for the next incarnation of this beloved classic and hope that Fox finally gets things right.
Rating: 4 / 5

Reviled by some, beloved by many, consistently referred to as the most popular movie musical ever made, THE SOUND OF MUSIC more than fulfills the promise of its beautiful visuals and expert song numbers on home video via DVD. This edition tops the 1995 laserdisc by allowing the sparkling, exemplary design of its 70mm. Todd-AO frame to be exhibited with increased sharpness and resolution. The 4.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is powerful and clean, but since this film was originally mixed for six-track magnetic stereo, it’s curious why the effort wasn’t made by Fox to split the surrounds! Nonethless, the film sounds terrific. The extra features make this package a bargain at the price. Full length commentary by director Bob Wise, with the musical numbers presented sans vocals, is a great touch. And the two documentaries are beautifully presented; full of facts and bits of arcane information that any fan will truly enjoy. A great movie, and a great DVD rendition. More like this, PLEASE!
Rating: 5 / 5

Although this picture has had numerous home video releases over the years from tape to laserdisc, this new DVD version is easily the best to date, offering a crisp, clear, pristine wide screen transfer that looks like it was filmed only hours ago, along with an excellent surround sound mix that is far superior to any previous release, 70mm six track theatrical prints included. The supplemental disc offers documentaries and enough extras to satisfy any Sound of Music junkie.

The feature disc offers an audio commentary by director Robert Wise that is quite interesting and informative, but repeats much of the same information included in the documentary. Parts of it seem a bit rushed, perhaps because he doesn’t speak over any of the musical sequences, which are presented without vocals to highlight the orchestral arrangements and allow one the opportunity to sing along. Wise points out where songs that were deleted or moved would have gone as compared to the original stage show, and one can see how such changes made the film adaptation superior. He also explains the technical aspects of shooting on location and how location shots were seamlessly matched with footage shot back in L.A. on stages. There were also a couple of scenes that were shot but later cut–it makes you wish they had included these outtakes on the supplemental disc of extras. There are some gaps in the commentary where only the movie plays–leaving you a bit hungry for more interesting anecdotes from Mr. Wise, but after over 35 years I guess his memory is as good as can be expected.

The French audio track is fun–How strange to hear the familiar songs in French–not an easy task to translate a song like Do Re Mi which seems it wouldn’t make sense in any language other than English. They did an excellent dubbing job–the voices are quite similar to the original actors’ voices, and the woman dubbing for Julie Andrews holds her own.

The 35 minute audio spot by screenwriter Ernest Lehman is extremely interesting, giving you a taste of what went on behind the scenes in the development of the production, from William Wyler’s indifference to the film he agreed to direct despite hating the Broadway show, and prospective director Gene Kelly kicking Mr. Lehman out of his house and telling him to “shove” his screenplay.

Actor Dan Truhitte also provides an “audio telegram” detailing his experience winning the part of Rolf and some personal anecdotes. But all we hear is his voice–a still picture of his present-day self would have been a nice touch.

We also get some sound bytes of old radio interviews that are typical PR fluff but still an interesting time capsule. The video of theatrical trailers and TV spots is interesting but repetitive. They are almost all the same, with only subtle changes. For those interested in the location there is even a brief but detailed written history of Salzburg.

All in all, this has to rate as one of the best and most complete DVDs ever released (despite those missing outtakes!) Fox did a terrific job, and should be commended for NOT offering the inferior pan and scan version of the picture usually shown on TV. This is one of those wide screen masterpieces that lose a lot when the original aspect ratio is altered. A must for all film collectors and Sound of Music fanatics alike.
Rating: 5 / 5

While I greatly appreciate it for its superior cinematic qualities, The Sound of Music is also special to me for other reasons. I first saw it as a six-year-old in New Zealand in early 1966; it was the second full-length feature film that my parents had taken me to see (the first having been what could be considered its twin, Mary Poppins). My impressions of the film back then were so vivid that even today I can still remember exactly what I felt during most of it. I remember seeing the backdrops of Salzburg and the Alps hugely sprawled across the cinema screen and wondering where these fantastically beautiful places were, and whether one day I would be able to see them for myself. My father bought the soundtrack LP, and of course the songs inevitably became ingrained in my memory. Years later, I felt the desire to tour Europe, as Australasians do, and was unexpectedly offered work near Munich. Since then, I have often hiked in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps and made the day trip from Munich to Salzburg, and, not surprisingly, my thoughts drifted back to the film that first drew my attention to the region long ago.

When I see SoM today, I am struck by its epic sweep, stunningly beautiful photography and lighting, those somehow unforgettable songs, and its intense, sometimes pensive loveliness and sweetness of tone, something that has become increasingly rare in modern cinema. True, the film is perhaps a bit too sugary at times, but, in view of its overwhelming positive attributes, not enough to really matter. I was surprised to see that it is unavailable to buy in the U.S. just now – so here are two tips in the meantime for true devotees, just for fun:

1) For the sake of sheer curiosity, try to see the original German film on which SoM is partially based, Die Trapp Familie (1956). At the least, excerpts of both this film and its sequel, Die Trapp Familie in Amerika (1958), are available in the U.S. as a dubbed compilation (which, like the sequel, I haven’t seen), although I strongly suspect a full-length, subtitled version of the original would be preferable. It is a fascinating experience to watch this modest, but quite well written and acted, pleasantly old-fashioned “Heimatfilm” (“heartland” film), little known abroad, when you know what it helped to inspire. (Georg Hurdalek, who wrote the screenplay, is given due credit in SoM’s opening titles.) It is very different in style to SoM. Strictly speaking it is not a true musical, though there are the expected traditional folk songs instead of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Its tone is much more restrained and naturalistic, really quite underwhelming by comparison. Many of the characters, including the children, are different, although some still have their obvious counterparts in SoM. To be fair, as might be expected, Die Trapp Familie is more authentically Central European. SoM, while to my mind far superior and infinitely more spectacular, is unavoidably anglicized to an extent, with its mostly British or North American actors (manner and body language!), and, as a musical, its story line is in any case more stylized. It is especially fascinating to see how many sequences, camera shots, and even pieces of dialogue in Die Trapp Familie were later used in SoM with comparatively little modification. The line “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window” (in German) is just one example, and numerous sequences, including Maria’s scenes with the Mother Abbess, her departure from the Abbey and first meeting with the family, and the wedding will be instantly familiar to anyone who has seen SoM. In particular, the scene in which the children come into Maria’s bedroom, frightened by the thunderstorm, is almost identical in both films.

If you see Die Trapp Familie, ponder the bewildering fact that this, if any, and not SoM, is the film that a great many Germans associate with the story of the Trapps. Unlike Die Trapp Familie, at the time of its release Germany’s most successful postwar film at the box-office, SoM flopped here and now never even seems to be shown on national television – presumably, the Germans were too fond of their own film and couldn’t relate to a “Hollywood remake.” When talking to people here, I have generally met with the same response: most of whom I’ve asked (even in Bavaria) had never even heard of SoM before (!), let alone seen it, although the film is known to some enthusiasts and to those who have otherwise come across it by chance, and is occasionally mentioned in the press. Given its truly universal renown elsewhere, and the Germans’ enthusiasm for Hollywood movies in particular, this is quite remarkable, even considering that Rodgers and Hammerstein aren’t as well known here either. SoM has an understandably higher profile in neighboring Austria though, since the film was set and partially made there and draws many tourists to Salzburg each year. Here, I have shown SoM to a number of unsuspecting German friends who I thought might enjoy it and have watched their eyes glued to the screen growing wider and wider and wider and wider and wider… (For some reason, the puppet theater and the song “Edelweiss” go down particularly well…)

2) The official SoM website is a mine of information, but for an extra treat, don’t miss Angela Cartwright’s (Brigitta) own delightful and very personal website. Look at page 2 of her scrapbook (be sure to click on “What are the `Sound of Music kids’ doing now?”) and her December 1998 news update in particular.

I am fond of many different film genres, but for me, The Sound of Music remains unquestionably one of the most consistently entertaining, enjoyable, and enduring of all the big Hollywood classics, despite some excessive sentimentality. Now, it is a fond childhood memory come back into the present; looks like I’ll still be watching it when I’m old and gray.
Rating: 5 / 5

This lovely new 40th Anniversary 2-disc edition of THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a real treat. But, for those in a quandry about buying yet another DVD release of the film (following the “Five Star” 2-disc edition), I say, buy this version but keep the old one too, because it has some great extras that were not ported onto this new edition (more about that later).

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is of course based on the long-running 1959 hit Broadway musical that originally starred Mary Martin. The musical was inspired by a Geman film called “Die Trapp Famile”, based on the book by Maria Augusta Trapp. The story is as well-known as those hills that truly did come alive with the sound of music: Maria (Julie Andrews) is a postulant nun at the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg circa 1938. The Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) becomes well-aware that the spirited Maria is hardly suited to the cloistered life of a nun. So Maria is assigned as governess to the seven children of an autocratic widower, Captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Like a breath of fresh mountain air, Maria transforms the children and eventually steals the Captain’s heart away from a worldly Baroness (Eleanor Parker). But the Nazi Anschluss is coming, and the family’s safety is under threat…

This new DVD contains a wealth of new bonus material including :

“Audio Commentary” – brand new commentary track with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, choreographer Dee Dee Wood and Charmian Carr amongst others. The Robert Wise director commentary (from the “5 Star” release) is also included.

“A Few of My Favourite Things” – Julie Andrews hosts this generous-length documentary which features new interviews with key cast and production team members, some rare photos, footage from behind the scenes and more.

“Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence” – Julie and Chris sit down and share their memories from the film.

“From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion” – This is something truly special. This segment reunites all seven von Trapp children to share their own memories and talk about the film. With Charmian Carr (Liesl), Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Heather Menzies (Louisa), Duane Chase (Kurt), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Debbie Turner (Marta) and Kym Karath (Gretl).

“On Location with The Sound of Music” – Charmian Carr takes us on a personally-guided tour of Salzburg, taking in the historical sites as well as the locations featured in the film. This is a cute update on “Salzburg Sights and Sounds”, which Carr made as a featurette during production of SOM in 1965 (and which can be found on the “5 Star” release).

“When You Know the Notes to Sing: A Sing-Along Phenomenon” – This takes a look behind the scenes during the 40th Anniversary “Sing-Along a-Sound of Music” screening held at the Hollywood Bowl with an audience of over 18,00 people. The “Sing Along” version of the film has taken off all over the world, and this featurette gives you a definite flavour of one.

“The von Trapp Family: Harmony and Discord” – This is the fantastic `Biography’ episode which takes an in-depth look at the real von Trapp clan. We learn that the real Maria was a far more flawed and fallible human being than we ever saw in “Sound of Music”, and also the shocking fact that infamous Himmler took over the von Trapp villa shortly after their exit from Salzburg. Featuring interviews with several of the real von Trapp children.

“Mia Farrow screen test” – A fascinating look at the girl who might have played Liesl if Charmian Carr was never cast in the role. Farrow sings a brief section of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” in a blonde wig. Lesley Ann Warren also auditioned for the role (she appeared in the title role of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” instead), but it might have been nice to have had Lesley’s screen test also. Oh well…

“Restoration comparison” – Compares a 1993 print of the film with the new 40th Anniversary restored print.

There are also copious trailers and galleries to watch and explore.

The “Five Star” double disc set also included the fabulous doco “From Fact to Phenomenon”, and that is the main reason why I’ll keep my old DVD alongside this new version. I recommend that all fans purchase this new edition, if only for the reunion featurette. For those who have yet to buy SOM in digital format, this release is a no-brainer.
Rating: 5 / 5

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