Academy-Award® winner Julie Andrews stars in one of her most memorable roles as Maria in the film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "The Sound Of Music." Maria is a spirited young woman who leaves a convent and becomes a governess to seven unruly von Trapp family children. Her charm and songs soon win the hearts of the children and their father but when Nazi Germany unites with Austria, Maria is forced to attempt a daring escape with her new family. (Gary Reber)
The two-disc Blu-ray® and DVD Combo Pack special features on Disc One include "Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration," an immersive viewing experience with behind-the-scenes images, on-screen lyrics, a trivia track, and a location quiz (Bonus View); Music Machine and Sing-Along of the popular songs from the film; commentary by Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, Dee Dee Wood, and Johannes von Trapp; and commentary by Robert Wise. Disc Two special features include "Musical Stages: Creating The Sound Of Music," an all-new interactive "backlot tour" with in-depth featurettes on the songs, the stage, and movie, the film and sound restoration, and the real-life von Trapp family; the featurette "A City Of Song," a virtual map of filming locations in Salzburg, Austria; vintage Rodgers and Hammerstein and "The Sound Of Music" programs; screen tests; rare treasures; interviews; photo galleries; trailers; TV and radio spots; and more. Disc Three is the DVD of the film.
When reviewed in Issue 42, the anamorphically enhanced 2.25:1 DVD was far superior to the so-blurry-your-eyes-hurt LaserDisc (both transferred from 65 mm elements) reviewed in Issue 24. Any improvement over the LaserDisc was welcomed. Viewed alone, the DVD picture, for its age, looked pretty good. Despite some apparent edge enhancement, images were generally sharp and detailed. Colors, though dated, were nicely balanced. There were many scenes, in which compression pixelization could be a bit annoying. Instead of appearing solid, backgrounds seemed very busy, with distracting movement. Fine film grain was revealed throughout. This newly remastered high-definition treatment released on the Blu-ray Disc format in 1080p AVC is gorgeous. Scanned at 8K resolution from a copy of the orginal camera negative, the actual transfer was from a 4K duplicate, which preserved all the original detail in the original negative. The Abby scene depicts the sharp contrast between the nuns' white accents against black gowns, and later Maria's white slik wedding dress. The blacks are perfectly solid and deep, and the white highlights are perfectly balanced without blooming. Contrast overall is well balanced with revealing shadow delineation and excellent dimensional depth. The color palette is rich and warm, without exaggeration, for a perfectly natural appearance. Hues are vivid at times, such as in the depiction of Austria's deeply red-hued flag, the red accents on Baron von Trapp's formal uniform, and the red-hued Nazi flag, but overall generally reserved. The on-location filming captures the surrounding exteriors but with a clear focus on the characters in the frame's foregroound. In that regard, the backgrounds are softly focused and at times appear contrived and disjointed. Resolution is quite revealing, especially during close-ups of facial features, object textures, and clothing fabrics. Fleshtones are perfectly natural. Fine grain is still evident, which enhances the filmic quality, but the imagery is clean and smoothly depicted. This is a nicely executed restoration of this Todd-AO 70 mm classic that is sure to engage fans. "The Sound Of Music" has never looked better on video. (Gary Reber)
The former DVD's soundtrack reviewed in Issue 42 was actually Dolby® Digital 5.1, rather than 4.1 as credited, because the monaural surround channel was actually split into two, prior to encoding. The presence of hiss was slightly less than on the LaserDisc track but slightly muffled in comparison. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film's audio was the dialogue, which was highly directionalized, and excessively so at times—a likely result of the fold-down from five screen channels to three. Voices were presented at a comfortable listening level, and, though the recording quality was certainly dated, sounded reasonably natural. In terms of dimensional utilization, the soundfield was predominantly screen-oriented, with subtle music ambiance for the surrounds. The stereophonic music projected a sonic image that was notably wide and expansive. The restoration of the vintage sound was remarkable, albeit revealing the dated fidelity and some inherent artifacts. Although the .1 LFE was technically active, its presence was barely a factor and low-end extension in general was adequate, though, generally undistinguished. Nonetheless, the DVD repurposed film soundtrack was a wonderful opportunity to have an experience that was close to the original multichannel magnetic audio. The creatively talented remixing engineers at Mi Casa Multichannel were charged with the DTS® lossless remastering in the 7.1-channel format. They have an excellent record of sonic achievements in proper 7.1 mixing and their experience tremendously benefits this soundtrack. The added two channels are positioned to the 90-degree side positions and optimized as to the recommendations preferred by Dolby and DTS, relative to the sweet spot listening position. The spatial soundfield result is impressive, far more dimensional than just reproducing the soundtrack on a 5.1-channel system. While the overall structure of the soundtrack has not deviated from that of the original six-track magnetic master, the sound is better balanced than that on the DVD, particularly with respect to the directionalization of the dialogue. Here the sense of spatial dimension across the screen channels is not overly directionalized, but perfectly positioned in relation to the screen presence of the actors. Direction is created by mixing the center channel dialogue level in perfectly portioned amounts to the left or right channel. During songs the same sensitivity to this balance is respected, which enhances the dimensional quality of the music numbers. The added side channels extend the dimensional width and depth of the sound, especially during the music performances. While the fidelity is what it is with such a dated film, the sound is clean, hiss-free, and nicely articulated. The .1 LFE channels still remain reserved but never feel noticeably missing, as the music is well balanced in the lower frequencies. An intermission and an orchestral entr'acte appears as they did in the original theatrical run. The festival conclusion and Abby escape are the highlights to the sonic dimensional scope of the new mix. This is a wonderful remastering effort and musical experience that is sure to please fans. (Gary Reber)