The Sound of Music – 40th Anniversary Edition (1965)

by | Jan 18, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

The Sound of Music – 40th Anniversary Edition (1965)

Starring:  Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Eleanor Parker
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Video:  2.20:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio:  DD 5.1, DD Stereo, Spanish Mono, French 2.0
Extras:  Anniversary Introduction by Julie Andrews (2); Singalong Karaoke Subtitles in English, Spanish and French; Audio Commentary (2); My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers (63 min); Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence (19 min); On Location With The Sound of Music (22 min); From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion (33 min); When You Know The Notes To Sing: A Singalong Phenomenon (13 min); Biography – The Von Trapp Family: Harmony And Discord (46 min); Restoration Comparison; Mia Farrow Screen Test; Trailers & TV Spots (7); Still Galleries (3).
Length:  174 minutes
Rating:  ****1/2

The Sound of Music was originally written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and then adapted by Ernest Lehman from a stage musical to a film.  It happens to be the last musical that was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and one of the most memorable.  In fact, many would consider it to be the best musical film of all time.  The music has continues to be recognizable and tunes like “My Favorite Things” is frequently covered by jazz musicians.  It is a story of faith and hope that can be appreciated as an adult or child.  The universal appeal of the film is depicted in the Singalong section where 18,000 fans gather at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to sing-a-long with the film to celebrate the 40th anniversary.  The beautiful scenery coupled with the excellent music and camaraderie of the actors on screen (of all ages) helps make this film memorable and a true standout among its genre.

In 1965, the film was honored with five academy awards: best director, best picture, editing, music, and sound.  The film broke box office records and surpassed Gone with the Wind in terms of sales.  Among the bountiful extras there is a detailed discussion of the restoration process for the 40th anniversary re-release.  In comparison with a previously reissued version, the color looks completely different and the contrast appears to be much better–a quality that will often affect one’s perception of color.  There are so many lovely outside shots that are filmed in many of Salzburg, Austria’s landmarks that the viewer feels to be a part of the countryside.  The extras cover some of the production design and exterior choices as well as camera techniques that help achieve evidently superior results.

Director Robert Wise was drawn to the story of Maria von Trapp–the woman who Julie Andrew’s character is based.  During the filming she visited the production and enthusiastically gave her input.  She even appears in the background of one scene in the film.  There is a biography on A&E that is included in the extras as well as a documentary (“My Favorite Things”) where one of her children discusses real events and how the characters and plot of the film vary from reality.  Liberties are clearly taken with the movie (when aren’t they?) as the depictions/characterizations differ–but much of the story is same.  Many of the interviews are with actual members of the von Trapp family.  Also, the original cast members who played the children are reunited and recount stories about the filming with a fondness.  They point out mistakes they made on the film and show footage to complement their descriptions.

For those unfamiliar, the story takes place during Hitler’s rise to power when the Germany military had begun to infiltrate Austria.  Captain von Trapp lost his wife and had seven children to watch over–a task he took upon like a squad of soldiers complete with a whistle to call them to order.  A young nun, Maria, who lived in a nearby Abbey was constantly in trouble and gave her superior a most difficult time.  In an effort to make her more responsible, she was sent to the von Trapp family to take charge of the children.  Within a short time they become enamored with each other and build a strong bond.  When the Captain brings back a woman to become his wife (and the mother of his children), Maria realizes that she can no longer remain with the family–her feelings for the Captain have grown in a way she could not imagine.  After struggling with her situation, she decided she must come back and realize their love.  The political climate is growing severe, and in order to save his family, the Captain must do something drastic.  The film ends on a happy note tempered with the struggles ahead that the family must face.  If you haven’t seen the film previously (or for a long while) now is the perfect time to rediscover this musical treasure.  Highly recommended! [The re-mixed 5.1 soundtrack is quite effective and convincing on both the music selections and ambient sound effects…Ed.]

– Brian Bloom

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