The Sound Of Music

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Nicky Falkof

Read Nicky Falkof's film review of The Sound Of Music
The Sound Of Music

Every bit as impressive as you'd expect from a Golden Age classic, if a little exhausting, this 40th anniversary special edition is packed to the gills with well-considered extras. The entire package is slightly smug and there's lots of talk about The Sound Of Music "phenomenon", but that's unlikely to irritate fans - and fans are definitely who this has been created for.

Little has been stinted on time and expense. The first option is an hour-long featurette, followed by two twenty-minute and one half-hour segments. The second half of the menu contains a substantial offering from the Biography Channel and some smaller snippets that are either amusing, or technical. The menu is well laid out and the options exhaustive.

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Julie Andrews Remembers, the main feature, sees the lady herself ensconced on a couch, being gracious. Lovely as Julie has remained, the true fascination here lies in the documentary footage of the real Maria von Trapp - a dirndl-wearing semi-toothless European battleaxe - marching her way around the film set and making all the stars self-conscious. These moments are far more poignant and telling than the rather dry Biography Channel feature on the real Von Trapp family, which is for the seriously interested only. Some commentary from Maria's son and appearances from the now very aged director Robert Wise add to the overall level of interest, while background history on the original musical and comments from those involved in the film's creation make this a fan's wet dream.

The second featurette sees Julie and Christopher Plummer playing perfectly to type, in a sweetly novel take on the traditional commentary. Interspersed with the appropriate clips, the pair coo at each other as they rehash their experiences of making the film. Plummer comes across as a true Hollywood gent - genial, jocular and dashing - not a hint of his rumoured antipathy for the film. Julie, meanwhile, maintains that glorious (if slightly unsettling) composure that characterises her Maria. Far less entertaining is The Sound Of Music On Location, narrated by Charmian Carr (Liesl). The tone is patronising and reads like a travelogue for Salzburg. Best avoided unless you enjoy being spoken down to.

From Liesl To Gretl, the reunion of the children, follows the same format as Andrews' and Plummer's Reminiscence. There's nothing particularly new on offer here, but the actors' recollections veer between funny and touching and do actually provide a different perspective on this well-loved classic.

The second half of the menu commences with possibly the most fascinating segment of them all - a short feature on the 40th anniversary Singalong-a-Sound Of Music event, held in the Hollywood Bowl. Eighteen thousand - yes, I did say 18,000 - nuns, transvestites, old ladies, families, hen parties, fans and diehards converged on the outdoor arena to watch the film together and sing along to the projected lyrics. Fascinating viewing, both in terms of the film's effect on audiences and on the lunacy of fandom.

Tech heads will be pleased by the restoration feature; everyone else will be bored. The stills and Mia Farrow screen test are pleasant additions.

All in all, an encyclopaedic package; everyone involved in the film's creation has gone all out to make themselves available and it's glossy and expensive, with excellent sound quality. Most of this material will, admittedly, only appeal to fans, but if you're not one you should probably just watch the film on telly.

Reviewed on: 25 Nov 2005
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The Sound Of Music packshot
Julie Andrews climbs every mountain in the record-breaking World War II-ish musical.
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Product Code: 2809401000

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.20 Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Julie Andrews Remembers featurette; Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer featurette; On Location featurette; children's reunion featurette; Singalong; Von Trapp family biography; restoration comparison; Mia Farrow screen test; stills

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