Sound of Music [VHS]
When Julie Andrews sang The hills are alive with the sound of music from an Austrian mountaintop in 1965, the most beloved movie musical was born. To be sure, the adaptation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Broadway hit has never been as universally acclaimed as, say, Singin' in the Rain. Critics argue that the songs are saccharine (even the songwriters regretted the line To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray) and that the characters and plot lack the complexity that could make them more interesting. It's not hard to know whom to root for when your choice is between cute kids and Nazis. Read our interview with Charmian Carr, who played Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music. It doesn't matter. Audiences fell in love with the struggling novice Maria (Andrews), the dashing Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), and, yes, the cute kids, all based on a real-life World War II Austrian family. Such songs as My Favorite Things, Do Re Mi, Climb Every Mountain, and the title tune became part of the 20th century Zeitgeist. In addition, The Sound of Music officially became a cult hit when audiences in London began giving it the Rocky Horror Picture Show treatment, attending showings dressed as their favorite characters and delivering choreographed comments and gestures along with the movie. So why resist, especially when the 40th Anniversary Edition is the best DVD yet. The DVDs As if the direct involvement of Julie Andrews weren't enough, the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Sound of Music is a must-have for fans because of the fond sense of nostalgia that will touch all but the worst cynic's heart. Andrews introduces both discs and contributes a commentary track on the film. It's a joy to hear her speak about the film (for example, she explains how she solved her dislike for the lyrics of I Have Confidence), and also heard are remarks by Christopher Plummer (who at one point refers to his being 48, which if true would mean his comments were made in about 1975), Charmian Carr (Liesl), choreographer Dee Dee Wood, and Johannes Von Trapp (the real-life Maria Von Trapp's youngest son, who admits that his father did have a whistle but claims that he was not as stern as portrayed in the film). Even with all those people involved, there are still significant gaps of silence, however. Retained from the previous two-disc editions is the commentary track by director Robert Wise, which during the musical numbers becomes an isolated score with no vocals. Also new are sing-along subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, which allow you to have your own sing-along at home. In addition, the film's remastering shows off a truer and much warmer sense of color. On the second disc, Andrews participates in a new 63-minute documentary My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers. But it's really a general making-of documentary with contributions from a number of principals, including director Robert Wise, who died in mid-2005 (not surprisingly, some stories are repeated from the commentary track and from the 87-minute documentary on the previous DVD). Andrews also shares a warm 19-minute sit-down with Christopher Plummer. Carr, who over the years has become the film's biggest advocate, narrates a new 22-minute documentary, On Location with The Sound of Music, in which she revisits the places in Salzburg where the movie was filmed, and even joins one of the Sound of Music tours that have become a booming industry. And acknowledging another big industry, there's a 12-minute featurette on the sing-along phenomenon, focusing specifically on the audience, costumed and otherwise, that attended a sold-out Hollywood Bowl sing-along in 2005. Making special appearances at the event are four von Trapp great- grandchildren and all seven of the actors who played the children. Thankfully, those actors also appear in a 33-minute documentary From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion, in which they expla
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