Viewed – 20 January 2011 Blu-ray
45th Anniversary Edition
The mere mention of Rogers & Hammerstein’s timeless musical favourite conjours up memories of sitting slouched in front of the TV at Christmas, too much turkey & stuffing in our bellies, wondering just how long this thing is on for and whose eaten all the Christmas pud? Yet as the movie is one of the most over played films of the Christmas (or any holiday) season, some look on it with disdain brought on from over familiarity. Which is a real shame, as this was probably the last really good musical of old Hollywood, the kind that you just don’t get to see anymore, and having watched it again, many years later – it’s grand sing-a-long wonder, thought-provoking drama and touching love story has aged very well indeed.
Maria (the legendary Julie Andrews) plays a Nun who’s fun-loving attitude and rebellious nature forces the abbey to send her to become a Governess at the house of the respected Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) in order to care for his seven children. All the other Governesses have either been driven out or left of their own accord, but it’s not long before Maria captures the hearts of the Von Trapp children by releasing them from their father’s strict, military regime and teaching them to sing and enjoy life. At the same time she catches the eye of Captain Von Trapp who falls in love with her, yet with the backdrop of the war and Austria’s impending occupation by the German army, danger looms around the corner.
As a movie of two halves, it’s hard to say just what makes The Sound Of Music so special to me. Of course the songs are brilliant, with Do-Re-Mi and 16 Going On 17 being particular highlights, and along with the stunning cinematography and simply beautiful set design and picture post card framing, this is as much a joy to the eyes as it is the ears. Then with the second half quickly descending into tense drama as The Von Trapp Family grow to realise they have to run from the Nazi’s, it becomes so much more than ‘just another musical’. It has real meaning. Julie Andrews is of course amazing in the central role, suitably supported by a stiff-upper-collar Christopher Plummer who reveals layers of depth as the story progresses, and the young actors playing the children are especially good, with an honourable mention going to Charmain Carr as Liesl.
Presented in pristine 1080p high-definition from a painstakingly restored 70mm master, this is a real treat and a great showcase title for Blu-ray. I can safely say I have never seen this movie look so vibrant, detailed and beautiful, backed up by a hefty 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack that brings the songs a new lease of life. The Blu-ray is also packed with features, such as trivia tracks, quizzes, picture-in-picture story boards and rare archive photographs, as well as two audio commentaries, one by Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer, the other by director Robert Wise. On the second disk we have a fantastically presented 3D tour showing the foyer of the Von Trap House where you can click on various items and be whisked away to a wealth of featurettes on the making on the movie, the stage play, the recent broadway musical and also interviews and footage of the real-life Von Trapp Family.
A stunning package and a wonderful treatment for a wonderful movie.
Verdict: 5 /5