The Sound of Music - 50th Anniversary Edition (DVD)
The most widely seen movie produced by a Hollywood studio, The Sound of Music grows fresher with each viewing.
Originally released in 1965 but this film has remained a family favourite for decades and will undoubtedly remain a classic for many more decades. A tuneful, heartwarming story, it is based on the real life story of the Von Trapp Family singers, one of the world's best-known concert groups in the era immediately preceding WW2. Julie Andrews famously plays the leading role of Maria, the tomboyish postulant at an Austrian abbey who becomes a governess in the home of a widowed naval captain with seven children, and brings a new love of life and music into the home.
Though it was planned meticulously in pre-production (save for the scene where Maria and the children take a dipping in an Austrian lake that nearly cost a life), on each viewing one is struck anew by the spontaneous almost improvisatory air of the acting, notably of Julie Andrews under Robert Wise's direction. There are also the little human touches he brings to, for instance, the scene where Maria leads the children to the hills, over bridges and along tow paths where the smallest boy trips up and momentarily gets left behind: it creates a feeling that most of us have encountered. From the opening pre-credit sequence of muted excitement as the camera roves over the Austrian Alps (photographed in magnificent colour), where little phrases from the wind instruments on the soundtrack are flung as if on the breeze, foreshadowing the title song to follow, this classic production never puts a foot wrong.
On the first disc the film itself has never looked or sounded better since its original presentation in Todd AO (prints of which are said to have disappeared forever). The disc also contains a separate audio guide that takes the viewer through the film sequence by sequence, with director Robert Wise commenting on the weather, the production design by Boris Leven, the sequences filmed on location and in Hollywood (like the interiors of the Von Trapp villa), and the naming of other actors who were eager for the lead roles, notably Doris Day and Yul Brynner.
On the second disc there are the documentaries. "Salzburg Sight and Sound" was Charmian Carr's own record of her time on location in the summer of 1964, playing Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp daughter. "From Fact to Fiction", running two hours, begins with the birth of Maria in 1905 who inspired the film, charts her subsequent marriage to Captain Von Trapp, their escape from Nazi Germany not across the Alps but via a train across the Italian boarder, their home in Vermont and thence to the German film of the family that was brought to the attention of Rodgers and Hammerstein as an ideal vehicle for a stage musical. A second group of documentaries covers previews, television and radio commercials and a 1973 interview with Wise and Andrews. Overall, this is a marathon package but in its way is as compelling as the film itself