The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Dozens of Hours of Entertainment

The hills are more alive than ever thanks to the stunning 45th anniversary Blu-ray + DVD release of this venerable classic. The film has been remastered for Blu-ray in 1080p hi def with 7.1 DTS-HD sound, making this the best possible way to watch the film at home. With a mind-numbing array of bonus features as well as the lengthy film itself, there are seemingly dozens of hours of entertainment contained in the package.

Buy The Sound of Music (45th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray

For anyone unfamiliar with the film, in pre-World War II Austria, Julie Andrews stars as a spirited nun-in-training named Maria who gets assigned as a nanny to the seven children of a stern widower named Captain von Trapp. Will she return to the abbey or find her true calling in the arms of the Captain? Will the family survive the impending Nazi occupation? And why do they spend so much time singing? There’s little doubt about how the whole affair will turn out, but the film’s heart and its earnest but unforgettable songs still make it worthwhile viewing nearly a half century after its debut.

The Blu-ray image is…well, kinda grainy at times. It’s no fault of the hi def transfer, it’s just that the digital precision of our newfangled technology reveals the decidedly non-digital nature of the source material. A few questionable focusing issues are also evident, but for the most part the film stands the test of time. The colors are stunning and the depth of field and clarity of detail make the film leap off the screen, with such minutiae as bike riders on the far side of the river behind the von Trapp estate clearly visible. That immersive quality fully brings the charming Austrian countryside to life in ways never before available to home viewers. The sound mix more than holds its own as well, with suitable but never flashy separation, just enough to expand the soundstage without trumpeting its 7.1 presence.

As for bonus features, the main Blu-ray disc includes an exhaustive interactive viewing experience that allows viewers to customize up to four discrete extra tracks during the film: behind-the-scenes images, on-screen lyrics, trivia track, and location quiz. That adds up to quite a bit of screen real estate taken over by extras, but it’s also a lively and inventive idea to experience the film in an entirely new way. There’s also a music machine sing-along that allows viewers to cut out all that pesky plot stuff and just bask in the glory of the uninterrupted songs, an endeavor that still adds up to a full hour of viewing and singing pleasure.

Disc 2 is another full Blu-ray of special features that include an all-new interactive backlot tour with in-depth featurettes on the songs, the original stage show and movie, the film and sound restoration process, and the real von Trapp family. The treasure trove continues with a virtual map of filming locations in Salzburg, Austria, screen tests, interviews, photo galleries, and vintage Rodgers & Hammerstein programs. Disc 3 is the DVD version of the film as well as the music machine sing-along and another featurette about the film. In short, there’s seemingly everything and more included to satisfy even the most demanding of fans.

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Steve Geise

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