The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition

The Sound of Music was not one of my parents’ favourite things so, consequently, I do not have any fond childhood memories of it as I have for the Wizard of Oz or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which were always Christmas perennials in our house.  As a teen I can remember whenever the film came on television the channel being changed rapidly before Julie Andrews belted out the first line of the title song.  It’s easy to understand why because The Sound of Music did not look good in pan and scan on a 24 inch screen and it certainly didn’t sound good through small Mono speakers.

It’s safe to say that the film is often readily dismissed as being too schmaltzy and terribly outdated even for the time it was made in 1965, after all the stage show had first been a hit in 1959 and it would be Rodgers & Hammerstein’s last together.  When I finally got around to seeing it all the way through in my early 20s I had the advantage of seeing it on DVD on a 32 inch widescreen TV and I was totally enthralled by it.  Director Robert Wise, who edited Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, managed to tell the story of the Von Trapps with all of the songs but none of the saccharine.  He also captured the reality of The Anschluß without preaching or oversimplifying the politics of Nazi Germany and its occupation of Austria in 1938.

Now we come to the 45th Anniversary Blu-ray edition and I am totally bowled over by the movie again and this time I have the benefit of watching it with my son who is 5 and I am amazed that he sits enraptured by the whistle-stop tour of Salzburg that is Do-Re-Mi, the stunning 70mm digitally restored print filling the 50 inch Plasma screen with a glorious 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer which has to rank amongst the best I have ever seen.  Each note resonating clear as crystal in immaculate 7.1 DTS-HD quality and you realise that what you saw squeezed onto old TV sets growing up in the 1980s could never do the 1965 Best Picture Oscar winner justice and must be partially responsible for the bad reputation the film had for so many years.

The package comes with a second Blu-ray full to the brim with extras the best of which, for my taste, is Rodgers & Hammerstein: The Sound of Movies a feature length retrospective charting the entire history of their successful creative collaboration hosted by the original stage Maria Von Trapp, Mary Martin.  There is also a long interview with screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who also wrote Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, in which he recounts the process of bringing his vision of The Sound of Music to cinema audiences, he is largely to thank for removing a lot of the sentimentality from the libretto and injecting it with authenticity and genuine wit.

I hope that now it has been restored to its former glory future audiences will have the fortuity of growing up with this wonderful story of one family’s struggle through song to journey over the Alps and far beyond the clutches of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich featuring some of the best popular songs written in the 20th century; not only the title song and Do-Re-Mi but also My Favourite Things, Lonely Goatherd and Edelweiss replete with standout performances from the indefatigable Julie Andrews and dryly humorous turn as the stern patriarch from the redoubtable Christopher Plummer.  The Sound of Music looks as sharp and bright as a new pin on Blu-ray and as a testament to its lasting appeal, my son has asked me to put Do-Re-Mi on every day this month!

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2 Responses to The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition

  1. LiliBoom says:

    I am commenting here because this was indeed one of my favourite Christmas films while growing up (together with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bedknobs and Broomsticks). I haven’t seen it in ages and I loved reading a review of it in here. What I’m doing though is I am basically leaving you a general feedback about this blog. Truth is I will be very concise: it is surprising and refreshing to find reviews and articles about actors and films that aren’t part of the Twilight Saga. Films with depth, if you want to put it that way. Don’t get me wrong, after an exhausting day the last thing I’d do would be to crawl on the couch and watch Inland Empire. I would probably get over the whole 1st series of How I met Your Mother all over again (despite the fact I could re-enact it myself at this point) instead, but this doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Lynch is and always will be one of my favourite directors. I would love for at least 70% of kids/young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 to read this blog very carefully! Mind you, I would love even well-grown people to take a good read at this every once in a while…

    Good job.

  2. Chip Lary says:

    The Sound of Music was shown every year on TV when I was growing up, so I saw it quite a few times as I grew up. I like it quite a bit. The reason some people hate it are that they are just the people who hate musicals and/or love stories precisely because they tend to be happy movies.

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