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290 of 322 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fox slips up yet again... Not the way to treat this Beloved Classic, November 27, 2005
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This review is from: The Sound of Music (Two-Disc 40th Anniversary Special Edition) (DVD)
For some reason The Sound Of Music has never had any luck in home video release. It has never achieved the picture quality commensurate with its status. The 40th Anniversary Edition seemed like the opportunity for it to finally shine. Alas no. Yes it is a marked improvement over the previous DVD which image-wise was deplorable. But it is far below what we know is possible in film restoration today.

What's good about the new SoM transfer? Well for starters they've removed the much criticised electronic edge enhancement which infuriated so many people in the previous DVD. This is artificial sharpening which looks good on small screens but produces halos around objects when seen on larger displays. The result is a slightly softer image but definitely an improvement over the old DVD. And they've made some effort at restoration. The picture looks visibly brighter. The color timing which was way off in the previous DVD has been partially corrected - but not totally. Skin tones which looked overly red previously, now appear closer to normal. However this color correction is haphazard. Some scenes have skin tones looking very natural, others still have that ruddy, sun-burnt look. The night scenes especially have skin tones taking on an ugly muddy-red appearance. In short, the color timing for the new DVD is inconsistent. Ironically, one drawback of the present color-correction is an overly-accurate representation of the original colors in some scenes - in the Edelweiss reprise at the Salzburg Folk Festival, Angela Cartwright's face (Brigitta) takes on a faint greenish-yellow hue under the stagelight. In the previous DVD this had been corrected to give everyone a uniform pink glow but not in the present DVD. It may be a truer reflection of stagelighting but it is not at all pretty to look at. So in terms of color-correction, in trying to please everyone, the technicians ended up pleasing no one. Black levels however are spot on. Level of detail is also fairly good, especially shadow detail in the darker scenes, definitely better than in the previous DVD but again below what we've come to expect of DVD transfers on the cusp of the Hi-Def era. This is especially so considering that SoM was shot, not on 35mm film like other movies, but on 70mm which should, if properly handled, enable us to see detail that would eclipse the very latest Hollywood productions, almost all of which are shot in 35mm today. Sadly it does not.

Sound-wise, the THX Certified 4.1 Surround Sound of the previous DVD has been replaced by a 5.0 Surround. Note the loss of the .1 LFE (subwoofer). This won't make much difference as SoM does not make much use of the LFE channel but those using less expensive sound systems may end up losing the lower-most frequencies as the front speakers of these systems often cannot reproduce the lowest frequencies that will now be passed on to them. One also wonders why they did not use all 6 channels of the original Todd-AO soundtrack for this DVD. To find out in the Extras that they actually remixed the original 6 track audio into a new DTS soundtrack which we are not given here is only to add insult to injury. Apparently Fox is reserving the DTS soundtrack for its upcoming High-Definition version of SoM due out next year.

The selling point of this 40th Anniversary Edition must be the Extras of which there are tonnes. What I appreciate most in the current set of Rodgers & Hammerstein Anniversary releases is the inclusion of a separate songs-only chapter list. I hope this becomes a feature for all future musicals. An interesting curiosity in this DVD is the ability to hear and sing along with the film in both French and Spanish with the appropriate lyrics appearing beneath much like in a karaoke-singalong. Although the French soundtrack was already present previously, this is the first time I've heard the songs sung in Spanish. There are hours of documentaries. I especially liked Charmian Carr's new documentary "On Location with The Sound of Music," and the children's reunion, "From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion," where the now grown-up children reminisce about their time on the set and point out all the little bloopers they made onscreen. It's heartening to learn that they've all turned out very well indeed. Unfortunately with all the new Extras, some of the features from the previous DVD had to be dumped. By far the saddest loss was the exclusion of Charmian Carr's delightful 1967 documentary "Salzburg Sight and Sound".

The Sound Of Music underwent a complete restoration in 2002 for its inclusion in the Academy Film Archive (A.M.P.A.S.). That 65mm restored print was first exhibited in early 2003. From the Film-to-Video restoration comparison included among the Extras, it would seem that this is the restoration used in the DVD. However it also shows how much more muted the colors on the film elements were even after restoration. It is only after the video transfer and color correction that the colors come to resemble what is seen here. The telecine color-timer was obviously over-enthusiastic with the color correction, pumping the colors up beyond what is natural.

For those contemplating getting the 40th Anniversary Edition, do note that Fox has announced that The Sound Of Music will be re-released next year on its new Blu-Ray High-Definition DVD. That's where the new restoration will re-emerge, hopefully with a more accurate telecine transfer and the newly remixed DTS soundtrack. If you can, it may be wiser to wait for the next incarnation of this beloved classic and hope that Fox finally gets things right.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 5, 2007 5:07:39 PM PDT
Jean says:
Thank you, You've answered every technically important question I had about this feature. I think I will hold out for an HD version. Im not one to double...nay...triple dip.

Posted on Aug 21, 2007 10:47:09 AM PDT
I agree that your review is most helpful and informative, but how long do we wait? We may all die waiting for perfection. I bought the 12 disc R&H collection with this 2 disc edition was included in the set. The whole set was under $50.00 and I think that is quite a value!

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 10:32:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2008 10:33:25 AM PDT
R. Siegel says:
The Sound of Music was NEVER announced for blu-ray release. That is simply untrue, please provide a link to any announcement of this movie announced for blu-ray release. I also disagree with you, this 40th anniversary edition is the best the film has ever looked. I have owned 3 VHS versions, 3 laserdisc versions, and now 2 dvd transfers, and this one excels in sound and picture. No it is not perfect but this is what I remember the 70mm showing look like. The soundtrack is also cleaner and sounds better than the five-star collection. Let's give some credit where credit is due for the improvement and removing the terrible edge enhancement. Sorry but you make it seem like the transfer is bad, is certainly is not compared to the previous issue. Hopefully when Fox does announce this title, they will include all of the extras from both dvd versions for a complete special edition. For some reason, Fox has never felt compelled to offer this film as a box set with special packaging and including press materials and other items. Sad since it is one of the most treasured titles in their catalog.

I might also recommend the other Rodgers and Hammerstein titles, their transfers are gorgeous, except for the Todd-AO version of Oklahoma.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2009 3:31:43 AM PDT
It would be nice if Fox got hold of the German color Trapp Family Singers film & included it in the Blu Ray when it happens. I have seen restored footage from this film and it looks good & it deserves to be an extra in the Blu ray

Posted on Jan 22, 2010 9:36:45 PM PST
Valleyboy17 says:
Thank you for clearing up a lot of questions. I own the previous DVD and I was shocked at how bad the video transfer looked on my 40-inch CRT rear-projection TV. I just got a new 55 inch LCD, almost 10 years newer, and it really shows any defect in a DVD, and this one had many. The thing that really stunned me about the previous DVD was the lens glare in some of the monastery scenes. They were simply unwatchable, even on the old, even on the old CRT rear-projection which had electron gun alignment issues. This is a great musical, and I hope they give it the treatment it deserves, because the new Blu-ray movies, even light comedies, are having a good job done on their transfers and second rate transfers like the original DVD are just unwatchable. Thanks again, and let's hope Fox gives the Blu-Ray version the video quality it deserves.

Posted on Mar 13, 2010 5:37:07 PM PST
I have been eagerly waiting for the Blu-ray version of this magnificent film. I hope that in the transfer they do not oversharpen to create a false reality as has been done with so many other movies. Softness is not always bad. At one point in time Amazon allowed for registering one's e-mail to be early notified of the release, but noted here such offer is no longer available. May I live long enough to enjoy the HD version. Hope so.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 12:52:36 AM PDT
Fox has now announced the Blu-ray version of The Sound of Music for this year's holiday season - that is Christmas 2010.

I really do hope that they worked from scratch, that is from the original 70 mm film print. After two DVD releases that I find lacking in picture quality - considering the available original material - I think it would be public deceit if Fox didn't do a splendid Blu-ray mastering this time around.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2010 9:50:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 16, 2010 9:51:05 AM PDT
KittyKins says:
No one in their right mind would buy this for $63. I hope Amazon lowers its price. It's my favourite movie of all time, so it's unfortunate the price is so unreasonable. I'll be checking elsewhere to see if it's cheaper locally.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2010 12:03:30 PM PDT
D. Martz says:
This would be the deluxe edition. It will likely come with all sorts of trinkets, like the Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and Casablanca DEs. There will also be a cheaper edition. The Sound of Music (Three-Disc 45th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 7:41:03 PM PDT
You 5.0 surround comment is inaccurate. 5.1 speaker systems that have smaller main speakers will have the receiver configured to send all frequencies lower than 80Hz to the subwoofer even when the LFE channel is not used. Most receivers these days auto configure themselves with setup mic.
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