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The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Julie Andrews
on March 1, 2003
Why anyone would want to view this classic in full frame is beyond me. Shot in Panavision 70, the glorious vistas of the Alps and Austrian countryside are breathtakingly captured. And then, of course, there's Julie Andrews. From her introduction, twirling about the tip of a hillside, to her whimsical "My Favorite Things" Ms. Andrews is one of the cinema's great guilty pleasures, a wholesome, smart and funloving girl next door that anyone would be happy to have as either their mother or girlfriend - depending on one's age.
Fox previously issued this film as a "Five Star Edition". Here, you don't get the fabulous extras, including a wonderful documentary on the history of the film and the Von Trapps. But no matter which version you get, you can't escape the fact that this transfer, although better than the laserdisc or VHS versions previously issued, still has a long way to go to live up to the very best DVD transfers. There is considerable digital noise in the backgrounds, some color smearing and a bit of edge enhancement and fine detail shimmering to contend with. Though it doesn't necessarily distract, it is present throughout and does draw attention to itself, particularly if you are viewing the film on a screen 32 inches or greater. The soundtrack has been nicely restored though at moments it can have a strident sonic characteristic that is slightly grating. Overall, Fox needs to revisit this title with a new transfer. Still, no one can deny that the hills will continue to be alive with the sounds of music for many, many years to come.