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The Sound of Music - Blu-ray & DVD Review

The Sound of Music

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ONE of the great joys of owning a Blu-ray player is being offered the chance of becoming re-acquainted with old favourites in stunning, high definition format.

I’ve already been fortunate enough to rediscover the likes of Michael Mann’s Heat, Tony Scott’s Top Gun, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and Curtis Hanson’s LA Confidential. In each case, it was like watching something new again, such was the beauty of the cleaned up moving image, the clarity of the sound and the benefit of watching it on a big screen at home.

Each week, there seems to be a new opportunity to rediscover a past classic and this week it’s the turn of Robert Wise’s much loved, timeless classic The Sound Of Music, which makes its long-awaited Blu-ray debut to celebrate its 45th anniversary.

The result is stunning: from the breathtaking Salzburg locations that open the film in picturesque Austria (surely, a treasure trove for the nation’s tourist board) to the clarity of those famous songs. It’s a stunning package, embellished by numerous special features (available in a multitude of formats).

The Sound of Music is, of course, one of those movies that every man hates to love. And yet it’s probably an essential part of every child’s coming of age, thanks to the annual TV holiday screenings it gets, or the songs that must surely have been a part of every family’s life at some stage.

The film itself is fun… even if it’s dated. I chuckled to myself as I recalled the precocious kids from contemporary movies such as Nanny McPhee and their form of mischief, as opposed to the ‘naughtiness’ on show here.

The purity, naivety and politeness also comes in stark contrast to the less mannered state of today’s society… especially in scenes involving courtship.

But that’s why the film retains such a special place in the public collective memory. It’s a feel-good film that doesn’t completely ignore the disturbing, distasteful politics of the time it is set given that it was inspired by the true story of the real Von Trapp family and their eventual flight from their homeland to avoid Nazi occupation and enforced military service.

It is, though, a charming film thanks to the timeless, sing-along quality of its songs and the breeziness of its performances. Both Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer are pitch perfect as, respectively, Maria and Captain Von Trapp, while the children are sweet without being annoying.

The songs, too, are great… from the obvious Sound of Music and Maria? to the more playful likes of Do-Re-Mi, My Favourite Things, The Lonely Goatherd and So Long, Farewell. And then there’s the beautiful Edelweiss which, perhaps more than any other song on the soundtrack, encapsulates the beauty, innocence and emotion inherent in the story. For these, we can thank Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

But then, in the case of The Sound of Music, there’s a great deal to be thankful for. It’s a timeless, heart-warming masterpiece for so many reasons… and a real treat in Blu-ray format.

The technical bits…

Meticulously re-mastered The Sound Of Music 45th Anniversary Edition is presented with new 7.1 audio and offers Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration featuring a Sing-A-Long, behind-the-scenes images, trivia and a location quiz.

There’s also A City of Song with a virtual map of filming locations and interactive tour of the movie’s locale of Salzburg, Austria; vintage programmes including a hilarious send-up of The Sound of Music from Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews herself; an enchanting interview with the real Maria von Trapp on The Julie Andrews Hour; and, for the very first time in home entertainment format, a spectacular full-length documentary, Rodgers & Hammerstein: The Sound of American Music, hosted by Mary Martin; and much more.

The Sound of Music is available in 3-Disc Blu-ray and DVD Combo Packs and, for a limited time, as a Limited Collector’s Set packaged in a keepsake box and featuring a 100-page My Favourite Things scrapbook, a reproduction of the original 1965 souvenir programme, an exclusive hand-painted My Favourite Things music box and more.

The Sound Of Music 45th Anniversary release is just one aspect of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s year-long campaign to honour the studio’s 75th birthday.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and the Alien Anthology have also been given their Blu-ray debuts, while in addition, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic South Pacific was released for the first time on Blu-ray on Monday, October 18, 2010.

Certificate: U
Running time: 175mins
UK DVD and Blu-ray Release: November 8, 2010