Discs Are Rated
The Sound Of Music: Five Star Collection
review by Anthony D.
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer
Directed by Robert Wise
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Screen-specific audio commentary with
Director Robert Wise, "The Sound Of Music: From Fact To
Phenomenon" documentary, "Salzburg: Sight & Sound"
featurette, Video interviews with the cast & crew, Radio
interviews with the cast & crew, Still gallery with
behind-the-scenes photos, promotional artwork and rare
historical images, Production notes, Theatrical trailers, TV
spots, Radio spots
Specs: 2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital
English 4.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround,
English Captions, Spanish Captions, Chapter Search, THX
Cerified, Two Disc Set
A towering achievement in the history of American cinema,
The Sound of Music makes its way to DVD. This is the film
that has been dubbed mutually: "The Sound of Money" and "The
Sound of Mucus;" due to its overwhelming popularity at the
box office as well as its reputation as being trite and
sentimental. The Sound of Music is still, 35 years after its
initial road-show engagement, the most viewed film of this
generation - - the first reserved seat engagement lasted
over a year! The image of a young nun with outstretched
arms, twirling against a breath-taking panorama of Austrian
Alps is forever imbedded in our consciousness.
From that beginning, The Sound of Music captures fans of
musicals, and sweeps them away to Salzburg, Austria for a
true, but musically enhanced, tale of a free spirit who
disrupts the life of a stern disciplinarian. (Hey, that
sounds like one hundred other film scripts out there,
doesn't it?) A novice takes temporary leave of the convent
to be a governess to a widowed naval Captain's seven
children. On the eve of his engagement to a Viennese
Baroness, the Captain realizes that he loves the young
governess who brought "music" back into his life.
For people who don't like stunningly photographed vistas,
"adorable" children, singing nuns or storm-trooping Nazis as
villains - - The Sound of Music is NOT the movie for you.
For the rest of us, there could not possibly be a better
video incarnation of The Sound of Music than the Deluxe
Five-Star- Collection edition that FOX has released on DVD.
Painstakingly remastered from a new 65mm Todd-AO negative,
this particular film has probably never been this pristine.
This is not the same transfer as FOX's 30th Anniversary
Edition on LaserDisc, though some of the extras remain the
same. Add to that a properly framed (2.20:1) anamorphic
presentation, and you have one of the best looking discs
The difficult DeLuxe color is as solid and vibrant as
ever. Contrast is stunning without aliasing of bright whites
against solid blacks as evidenced by the amount of nuns
flitting about the screen. The Captain's lapels are finally
a deep forest green against his grey jacket. There is some
slight, but never distracting aliasing on fences, though
vertical lines in wallpaper, costumes & set furniture
work beautifully. There are several process shots, in
Chapter 20 which are softer than the rest of the film, but
the process shot in "I Have Confidence" (Chapter 10) in
undetectable. The final third of The Sound of Music takes
place at night, and the clarity is astonishing - - deep,
rich blacks and well-defined shadows. Robert Wise chose a
very deliberate color palette for this film, and when the
infrequent reds do appear, they are true reds without
bleeding. The reds are almost always used to indicate a
menacing force - - the Captain's almost-fiancee is decked
out in a red dress, the Nazi flag.
The photography is so well-represented on this disc that
there are many times that the film has a three-dimensional
quality - - you feel that you could actually reach out and
touch those mountains. A true pleasure to see that The Sound
of Music has finally been given the video incarnation it
The Academy Award winning Sound has been perfectly
reproduced on this disc with a glorious Dolby Digital 4.1
mix. Dialogue is natural, although mostly ADR-produced,
lyrics are more than intelligible, after all we all know
that "The hills are alive...with the sound of music.." and
that "do('s) a deer; a female deer." But to hear the mix of
nature and aritificial as when ADR dialogue and Foley sound
effects come together on a mountain top is a true pleasure
when the balance is this good. This is particularly true in
Chapter 19 (Do-Re-Mi).
The audio mix also incorporates directional sound, as
used in the initial theatrical runs of The Sound of Music.
As for that bass...well, when it rains it pours, and
pours it does in the most unlikely of places...in a chapel
for a wedding ceremony, an organ begins to play...and, well,
let's just say that for as long as it takes cinematically
for a couple to wed, the subwoofer will get quite a workout!
The surrounds are used mostly for the orchestral portions
of songs until the final third of the film, when the Family
vonTrapp give a concert at an outdoor auditorium. Then the
rears really kick in giving the viewer the total effect of
that particular venue.
In short, this soundtrack has been lovingly put together
with a true feeling for the atmosphere of the film. Also,
for the first time in my viewing of this film - - for better
or for worse - - I was completely aware of the "enhancement"
of the children's voices - - there may be only seven
children, played by actors who did their own vocals - - but
there are at least seven other singers augmenting their
vocals; one of whom is co-star Charmian Carr's younger
As with the most recent FOX double-disc releases (The
Abyss, Fight Club and Independence Day), the majority of
this set's special features are delegated to the second
disc. The Film disc features director Robert Wise's
scene-specific audio commentary over a music only track
which subtracts the vocals from the songs - - anyone in the
mood for a Sound of Music karaoke night will be more than
happy to sing-a-long- with the 20th Century Fox Orchestra.
Wise's commentary is a great addition because he is a
natural story-teller and raconteur; and he always seems to
be enjoying himself while educating the viewer.
Disc Two's Special Features include the brilliant "From
Fact to Phenomenon," narrated by actress Claire Bloom, which
was also a supplement on the previous LaserDisc set.
Clocking in at eight-seven minutes, the feature relates
everything about the real von Trapp family, the previous
German film of their story, The Sound of Music on stage and
the troubles at 20th Century Fox had been going through
before The Sound of Music hit film theaters. Never dry, it
is a highly entertaining as well as informative documentary.
The second documentary however, can only be regarded as a
novelty: Salzburg: Sight and Sound featuring Charmian Carr
(Leisl) and her wide-eyed, innocence on tour of the city.
This short film (14 minutes) occasionally takes us behind
the scenes of the set, but mostly shows off the Austrian
city to great advantage.
Also included on the second disc are several teasers and
trailers, and audio "telegram" from Daniel Truhitte (Rolf),
radio interviews with Julie Andrews and Robert Wise as well
as an audio featurette with screen writer Ernest Lehman. All
of this is topped off by a still gallery (text and photos)
which covers everything from the history of Austria to the
film itself, and even includes a bibliography of suggested
I have always approached each video incarnation of The
Sound of Music with trepidation - - this is the film
experience from my childhood that video had yet to
recapture. First there were the whiplash inducing pan &
scan versions, on both videotape and laserdisc, which were
followed closely by the incorrect aspect ratio of the first
widescreen laserdisc. Until the 30th Anniversary laserdisc
there hadn't been a viable transfer of the film, BUT finally
with this DVD set, all fears have been laid to rest. One
could not ask for a better video representation of Robert
Wise's masterpiece. For once, a home viewer never has to get
up and change tapes or discs, an evening of film-watching
doesn't have to mean disc flipping. FOX's crown jewel has
never sparkled as stunningly as it does in the digital
format. I realize that this film is not everyone's cup of
tea: it has a pace more in tune with the 1930's of its
setting, a literate script, glorious natural special effects
in its Austrian setting and I will admit, that there are
times when the dialogue does not move the scene onward, but
if "sentimental" is done right, and well, the film has
succeeded. Robert Wise has rarely made a misstep in his
choice of films - - The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sand
Pebbles, West Side Story as well as The Haunting (1960) - -
and his film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound
of Music is the work of an artist at the peak of his career.
Neither of Julie Andrews' previous films had been released
when she was approached by Wise for the film, Christopher
Plummer was known only on the London stage, supporting
actresses Eleanor Parker, Anna Lee and Peggy Wood had been
major stars in the 1940s, Marni Nixon had only been heard on
screen as the voice double for many films (Gypsy, West Side
Story, The King and I) but Wise cast her to appear on screen
along with cabaret singer & composer Portia Nelson.
Wise's casting choices, the on-location shots of the
Austrian Alps, the never too-cloying children, the sumptuous
scoring by Oscar-winner Irwin Kostal and a timeless story of
courage against adversity have made The Sound of Music a
film to remember. FOX Video has released a stunning
presentation on DVD which makes The Sound of Music a DVD to
RELATED LINK: For further information on the producer's
salvaging operation on The Sound of Music, check out for a
side-by-side comparison of the laserdisc and the DVD.
(5/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)