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|Kevin Krock, editor|
Ok, everyone has seen this movie, so I'll give you the condensed version of the story:
Young fresh-faced nun-wannabe just can't make it to the church in time. She gets sent away to baby-sit a bunch of brats - and while she teaches them to perform on cue in drapery, she manages to bust up the father's current rather boring romance and finally get a ring on her finger. Lots of unpleasant Nazis then try to break up the party, a couple of nuns commit a sin, and the now "all one happy family" troops off over the hills to end up as inn keepers in Vermont. And yes, they manage to sing a lot in front of some rather swell scenery.
Everyone either loves or hates this film, and amazingly it even managed to run in one theater in San Diego for five years non-stop. (Which says an awful lot about either the movie itself or the people who live in that town.)The Goodies...
The executives at Disney who do DVD work should be locked into a room with this title and should not be let out until they learn what can be done with the format. The mess that the current gold collection Mary Poppins DVD is, only gets horrifically magnified upon comparison with this two disc treasure filled archive of all things Sound of Music.
Besides porting over all the wonderful goodies from the original hundred dollar plus laserdisc box set [which makes the DVD an incredible value already at this price] - Fox has also added even more including radio interviews, storyboards, themes and variations on trailers, stills, and a separate musical score track. [This complete score track offers more music than the two CD set released by RCA Records - we have yet to see released commercially the almost complete (and considered definitive by most collectors) 75 minute gold CD that came with the deluxe laserdisc box set]
The new documentary although a bit lacking in actual video quality, more than makes up for it in depth of content - including interviews with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and two of the child actors with narration by acclaimed actress Claire Bloom. The Trapp family also appears here, many of the surviving original members reminiscing about some of the major events that ended up in the film. People tend to forget the movie is at its heart a true story. The original "a bit too" promotional documentary, shot when the film was being made is also included.
DVD-ROM features offered on this release were not tested - since they wouldn't load up on my computer. [This may be due to the fact I was utilizing a pre-release copy for the review.] According to the included informational sheet - these features include links to the web site (which can be accessed here without the disc) desktops and a screen saver.The Video, Audio and Interface...
They've done a superb job in making a new transfer of this film for DVD release - there is very little if any edge enhancement, and the seeming depth they have achieved in some scenes [in particular the first part of the outdoors Do-Re-Mi number] almost adds a three dimensional look to the film on a properly adjusted monitor. It's simply amazing quality for an older film like this.
Thankfully Fox has learned that anamorphic is the way to go - the increased resolution offered for the first time here just about eliminates much of the shimmer seen in previous letterboxed editions - which can be caused by trying to squeeze too much picture detail into too few scan lines. The picture is properly framed, and just about every bit of the film is clearly up on the screen.
Thanks to dual-layer technology, you can finally play the movie all the way through without a side break, (or worry about a too- thin video tape), and overture and intermission music is included complete - to help duplicate the original road show presentation of the film.
The new 4.1 Dolby Digital mix [with mono surrounds] is bright and clear - but sometimes [and I need to check on this more closely on older editions to make sure] it appears the synch is a bit off. (This can happen in musicals sometimes, people do perform to playbacks.) The remix takes advantage of adding a little subwoofer bass, helping refresh the original sound for the digital era we live in. This is about as good as this analog soundtrack will be presented with current technology, the new mix is quite a tribute to the original sound recording efforts made on this film.
Menus [still using the old video logo title design, and not the new typeface used on the keepcase] are animated with gentle sound effects [the wind rustling the flowers, distant church bells] - and are also anamorphic, making for a very clean interface. Scene selections can be a bit pokey though, since hopping around pops up a still from the chapter selected each time you go to the next chapter - which slows this process down a bit.
Things can get complicated once you get into the features on the second disc what with the depth of the content offered - keep in mind hitting the ENTER button once you start a section that you later may change your mind about will get you back to the previous menu.
The Final Evaluation...
There is simply no better edition of this movie available as far as picture and sound - and the folks at Fox have gone out of their way to create a real showcase DVD with the archived materials offered on the two discs. [Don't throw out that laserdisc box if you have it though - there are still a few things on it not on the DVD.]
This title is well worth the bargain price it is available at now - let's hope the terrific job done on this title will inspire Disney to properly remaster Julie Andrews first film, Mary Poppins.
• DISC ONE: The Feature
• DISC TWO: Supplemental
Widescreen Anamorphic - 2.20:1
• Full-frame (1.33:1)
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