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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Sound of Music
45th Anniversary Edition


Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood and Charmian Carr
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: U
Available 08 November 2010

Starring Oscar winner Julie Andrews in one of her most memorable roles, the film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical follows Maria, a spirited young woman who leaves a convent and becomes a governess to seven unruly children. Her charm and songs soon win the hearts of the children but when their father is ordered to return to naval service, Maria is forced to attempt a daring escape with her new family...

It seems pretty pointless reviewing the movie - it's a classic and is one film that everyone should have in their collection. However, this Blu-ray presents the movie in the best sound and picture quality you'll have ever seen - the 40th anniversary restoration job is pretty remarkable on DVD, but is quite something else on Blu-ray.

Extras are pretty impressive (although I'm not convinced that two Blu-ray discs were necessary - even though there's hours and hours of the stuff). It took me a full day to watch all of these, and even then I skimmed through a couple that didn't really appeal to me. I did have a problem with the way the extras were presented. Usually on Blu-ray discs you can bring up the main menu when watching the extras in order to choose another one. Not so here. You have to go back to the top menu, which is a bit of a pain.

On the first Blu-ray disc, along with the main feature, we have the interactive feature Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration. This plays throughout the movie and allows you to turn on any combination of four different featurettes that pop up in boxes on the screen. There's include Making Music: A Journey in Images (production illustrations, behind the scenes images and other pictures that tie in with the images from the movie); The Sing-along Experience (which is a karaoke feature that allows you to sing-along to the movie's songs); Many a Thing to Know (trivia and general information on the movie); and Where Was it Filmed? (an interactive quiz that pops up every now and then to see if you are a real Sound of Music fan. You have several seconds to answer a multiple choice question).

Music Machine (58 min, 02 sec that plays all the movie's songs. You can play all or chose your favourite); Sing-along (54 min, 22 sec feature with is pretty much the same as Music Machine, but it includes the lyrics... at least that's the theory. This didn't provide the lyrics on my machine - I was watching on a PS3); Commentary with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, Dee Dee Wood (choreographer) and Johannes Von Trap (youngest child of Maria Von Trapp); and a Commentary with director Robert Wise.

Under the Live Extras banner we get What's New (which connects to a bunch of trailer); Live Lookup (rather lightweight filmography info on cast and crew); Exclusive "Laura Benati on the Sound of Music" (an interview with the actress who played Maria in the Broadway revival of the play); and Restoration Extra (which is included on the second disc without you having to stream it from the Internet).

The second Blu-ray disc is where the majority of the features are. Here we get a number of options (each holding various features). These include Musical Stages; A City of Song; Vintage Programs; and Rare Treasures.

Musical Stages holds a whole host of short features on the making of the movie. These are presented on a computer generated set of the movie where you can move between three rooms examining objects, or you can open a list of the features. First up is Maria in the 21st Century (6 min, 52 sec look at how the Sound of Music has grown into a global phenomenon); Restoring a Classic: Bloom and Grow Forever (5 min, 44 sec look at the restoration of this 45th anniversary edition); Edelweiss (2 min, 28 sec explanation of how 'Edelweiss' was written for the movie and how Christopher Plummer's singing was overdubbed); I Have Confidence (3 min, 09 sec look at the this song and why it was written for the film); My Favorite Things (2 min, 47 sec look at the importance of this song); Sixteen Going on Seventeen (2 min, 20 sec exploration of the song); After the Escape (8 min, 43 sec look at what the real von Trapps did after they fled Austria); R&H: Partnership at its Peak (3 min, 43 sec look at Richard Rodgers Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II's work); Shaping the Story (4 min, 50 sec look at how musical/film was shaped); The Von Trapps Today (5 min, 48 sec look at the von Trapp hotel which is on the site of their old farm which they moved to in 1942); Climb Every Mountain (2 min, 07 sec look at the song); Stage Vs. Screen (3 min, 12 sec look at the difference between the two); Maria (3 min, 03 sec look at the song); The Sound of Music (2 min, 32 sec look at the song); Maria and the Musical (5 min, 06 sec look at how the real Maria slotted into the musical. As she'd sold the rights to her story she wasn't entitled to any money from the musical or film, but they generously did let her have a slice of the pie. It also outlines some of the issues she has with how they changed the story); Cutting Room Floor (2 min, 50 sec look at why three songs from the musical were cut from the movie); Something Good (2 min, 17 sec look at the song); The Lonely Goatherd (2 min, 30 sec look at the song); Do-Re-Mi (3 min, 31 sec look at the song); So Long, Farewell (1 min, 11 sec look at the song); A Generous Heart (3 min, 54 sec interview with Maria von Trapp, who is the daughter of Georg and Agathi (Georg's first wife). It explains that Maria came to teach Maria, not be a nanny to all the children); Final Dream: Oscar Hammerstein Remembered (5 min, 51 sec look at this being the last music; Stories from Broadway (4 min, 19 sec behind the scenes stories of the musical); and Restoring a Classic: A Glorious Sound (5 min, 31 sec look at the audio restoration undertaken for this release).

The next batch of features are similar in design to the Musical Stages, in that you are given three screens to move between in order to unlock several. For A City of Song you have three pages of Salzburg scenery which allows you to unlock numerous features on the various famous sites of Salzburg. I have to admit that I didn't actually run through all of these as my allotted time for this review was two days. But I did flip through them and they do provide interesting information on the locations used in the film.

Under the Vintage Programs: The Sound of Music we are treated to some features that are of poorer picture quality, which is understandable as many of them are quite old now. First up is The Sound of Music: From Fact to Phenomenon (1 hr, 27 min, 22 sec. This is a pretty thorough documentary that looks at many aspects of the phenomenon); My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers (1 hr, 03 min, 18 sec is another in depth documentary. Although, the title is a little misleading as it implies that this is solely a retrospective piece with Andrews. It's not, she's hardly in it at all); Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence (19 min, 24 sec informal chat with the two actors as they talk about some of their memories. This was recorded for the movie's 40th anniversary); From Liesel to Gretl (33 min, 33 sec - another 40th anniversary feature which sees all of the children together talking about their memories on the movie); Salzburg Sight and Sound (13 min, 04 sec which sees Charmian Carr, who played Liesel, fronting a fake documentary on her time in Salzburg); On Location with the Sound of Music (22 min, 33 sec Carr presents a look at the locations); and When You Know the Notes to Sing: A Sing-Along Phenomenon (12 min, 50 sec look at the annual Sound of Music sing-along event. This is a 40th anniversary special and sees the actors who played the children in the movie together again on stage).

Under the Vintage Programs: Rogers and Hammerstein section we have Rogers and Hammerstein: The Sound of American Music, 1985 (1 hr, 23 min, 25 sec look back on the writing partners career); and Roger and Hammerstein: The Sound of Movies, 1996 (1 hr, 36 min, 36 sec look at the pair's movies).

Then under Audio Interviews there's a large collection of interviews with cast and crew. Some while the movie was filming and others are more recent.

Under Rare Treasures there's a collection of much older material, including a '70s appearance of Maria von Trapp on The Julie Andrews Show (16 min, 33 sec); Screen Tests; Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall: The Pratt Family Singers (6 min, 41 sec black and white The Sound of Music spoof); 40th Anniversary DVD into with Julie Andrews (02 min, 10 sec) and Galleries.

The third disc is the DVD which holds the movie and a couple of features which are also on the Blu-ray discs.

Even if you've already got this on DVD it's worth buying on Blu-ray. I can't think of a better way to spend £16?


Darren Rea

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