It’s 45 years old, but The Sound Of Music has lost little of its popularity, with endless generations being introduced to Maria and the Von Trapp kids, and many finding a love of the movie that continues into their adult life. It’s certainly a cheery film, where even the looming threat of Nazi-ism doesn’t seem that bad (after all they escape so Captain Von Trapp doesn’t have to compromise his ideals and join the German Navy, rather than because they’ll be sent to a Nazi death camp or something like that), and of course it’s filled to the brim with catchy songs.
But of course you probably know all that, as it’s virtually impossible to have grown up and not seen the film at least once. And now it’s come to Blu-ray in a package that includes a new, remastered HD version of the movie, loads of special features, and even a copy of the flick on DVD in case you’re away from your BD player.
As with many older films, the picture quality on Blu-ray isn’t completely pristine and there’s still a little grain, but even the quickest comparison between the HD and DVD copies shows what a jump it is between them. The enhancement to the colour palette is the thing that really strikes, with incredibly vibrant reds, blues and green, making you realise quite how stylised parts of the movie are, particularly in the lighting design. The Blu-ray also undoubtedly brings out background details you wouldn’t have noticed before, making the mountains look more majestic, the set design more opulent and the whole thing look better than we’ve seen it before.
The movie was originally filmed on 70mm, which gives around four times as much detail as standard 35mm film. It ensures it looks great in HD, even if you might have thought having such a good quality original master could have ensured it was made grain free during restoration – but then if it was too clean, it’d probably start looking artificial (although Warner has successfully cleaned up the likes of 2001 to perfection, which was also shot on 70mm).
The audio is also a big step up. I remember watching The Sound Of Music as a youth and there being an audible hiss on the soundtrack at some points, but here it’s absolutely immaculate, presented in DTS HD Master Audio 7.1. Every tone is crystal clear, so whatever they’re singing about, it sounds great.
There are also plenty of special features to wade through. With Sound Of Music ‘Sing-Alongs’ being popular in cinemas, there’s inevitably a Sing-along version on the Blu-ray, along with the ability to just play the songs from the film, or even individual tunes, without worrying about the plot. Added to that is a ‘Your Favourite Things’ interactive version of the movie, where you can choose to view picture-in-picture images, info, trivia and more as you watch the film.
The second Blu-ray in the package includes the extensive ‘Musical Stages’ set tour, where you can look around a CG recreation of the Von Trapp mansion set, clicking on objects that give you access to things such as the songs from the films, as well as featurettes, documentaries and more. Some of the featurettes have been ported over from previously released DVDs, but they’re nevertheless fascinating. For example there’s ‘After The Escape’, which features some of the original Von Trapp children reminiscing about what happened after the events of the film, when they became a famed singing group. They also pop up in a couple of other featurettes about the real Von Trapps, all of which are well worth watching, especially the ones that look at how vastly different the real story is to the movie version.
There are also a couple of looks at the cult of The Sound Of Music and how it’s retained its popularity over the years, whether it’s in its use in popular culture – from Christina Aguilera singing Climb Every Mountain to riffs in Family Guy – or the fact it’s still one of the main tourism draws for Salzburg, where much of the movie was filmed. There’s even a great featurette looking at the original Broadway Production, which starred Mary Martin, as well as the three songs from the stage show that were cut out for the movie.
Next up is ‘A City Of Song’, which is a virtual tour of Salzburg, taking you to some of the locations used in the movie. Each location has a little featurette about it, as well as trivia and images. To be honest, not all of it is that interesting unless you’re a Sound Of Music nut, who needs to know everything about where it was filmed.
The disc also includes loads of other stuff, including 1980s and 1990s documentaries about The Sound of Music and Rodgers & Hammerstein, and most of the stuff from previous DVD versions, such as Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews reminiscing about making the film. There are even some great rare treasures, such as a clip from a TV special where Julie Andrews and Carole Burnett make fun of The Sound of Music, filmed two year before Andrews scored the role of Maria in the movie version.
Overall Verdict: It really is a packed couple of discs, which make good use of Blu-ray technology. And with the film looking better than ever in HD, and absolutely beautiful audio, it could end up as one of your favourite things.
‘Your Favourite Things: An Interactive Celebration’
‘Music Machine’ Songs Only Feature
Audio Commentary With Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmain Carr, Dee Dee Wood & Johannes Von Trapp
Audio Commentary With Director Robert Wise
‘Musical Stages’ Interactive Set Tour
‘A City Of Song’ Virtual Tour Of Salzburg
‘Vintage Programs’ Documentaries and Audio Interviews
‘Rare Treasures’ Featurettes, Screen Tests and More
‘Publicity’ Trailers, TV Spots & More
Reviewer: Tim Isaac