DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Sound of Music - 40th Anniversary Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Nov 13, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC
    40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION





    [​IMG]
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 1965
    Film Length: 174 minutes
    Genre: Musical Drama

    Aspect Ratio:[*] Todd-AO 2.20:1 enhanced widescreen
    [​IMG]

    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English [​IMG] 4.0 Surround
    [*]English & Spanish
    [​IMG] [​IMG] 2.0 Stereo
    [*]French [​IMG] [​IMG] Surround

    Subtitles: English & Spanish
    Film Rating: [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]






    Release Date: November 15, 2005.


    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Julie Andrews (Maria), Christopher Plummer (Captain Georg von Trapp)

    Directed by: Robert Wise



    The Happiest Sound in All The World![/i]


    For its 40th Anniversary, FOX has gone all-out with the Academy Film Archive on the restoration of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. It’s an Academy Award winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Music, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and is a classic film known by more people than we want to imagine.

    I won’t discuss in-depth about the story of this film, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a true-life story of Maria (Hollywood converted), a spirited young nun who leaves a convent to become a governess for seven children of a naval officer, Captain von Trapp. He’s a widower and his house is strict and there is no room for merriment and music – the opposite of what Maria’s personality is. She always has this urge to sing because it makes her feel happy and free. In fact, this is probably one of the happiest films you’ll see!

    Set high in the mountains of Austria and in the low-lying city of Salzburg, there are 24 musical numbers in this three-hour film and you are guaranteed that you’ve heard at least one of these songs somewhere sometime.

    This review is focussed on the quality of this release and its value to you, the DVD buyer. This release boasts an improved image over all other releases and is loaded with special features spread out on 2 discs. They are all new and Julie Andrews guides us through many of them. So how does it perform?


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A new restoration of this film has been completed for this release. The original 65mm negative was used as the starting point for the restoration. It was continued with making new 70mm prints and then digital restoration in HD to clean up the dirt, tears, cue marks etc. It was this HD master that served as the final source for this DVD.

    Compared to the 1993 transfer, the picture quality is an improvement in colour fidelity, contrast, and resolution. Since colour temperature on this release is more neutral, the greens, blues, reds, greys and blacks look much more natural. It’s not a small difference, it’s quite obvious. The previous transfer looks purple in comparison and lacking in resolution. This release is pleasant in terms of detail, but it does look soft overall. In fact, it still looks too soft.

    Colours are good but not vibrant as one would wish; since many prints were made off of the original 65mm negative that was used as a starting point for this restoration, there is no doubt that print would suffer some fading. Colours also appear somewhat inconsistant at times.

    Compression artefacts are kept to a minimum. I can’t remember any instances that artefacts of that sort stood out to me. FOX has done a good job at keeping this release as ‘smooth’ as possible...but again I will say it's too smooth that it feels like I'm missing detail. There are some instances of edge enhancement but not as bad as what was on the previous release. It’s on-off throughout the film, most noticeable when Andrews walks in the mountains against the bright blue sky at the beginning of the film. It is easy to detect a halo on the right her body but it’s tough to say when in the restoration chain that happened.

    One problem I did detect was the noticeable shift of the colours of red and cyan. The opening titles, the river between the mountains, the candles in the convent – all have the “red” element of the object the right of it. At first I thought it was an effect of the title, but when I saw it on objects I knew that it wasn’t. Also, the same effect can be seen with a cyan smear to the right of an object, for example, when looking at a nun. This problem wasn’t noticeable in every shot; people with small screens may not notice this, but on my 110” screen it was clear as the mountain sky on a sunny day.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There are two English audio options available; a Dolby Digital 4.0 presentation as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo version. Sounds placed in the soundstage seem very similar between the two soundtracks but the 4.0 surround version is clearly wider. Dialogue and singing is directional and extend further to the sides in the 4.0 mix than the stereo version. I chose to review this title using Dolby Digital 4.0.

    The 4.0 channel audio delivery on this DVD is taken from a 35mm 6-track mag element and restoration was completed on the original mix. The 6 channels consisted of 5 channels across the front (like 8-channel SDDS) and a single mono surround channel. The 5 channels across the front were folded down to three discrete channels for home theatre – left, center, right. The directionality of dialogue, effects, and singing is well preserved. Using three identical Focus Audio FC-50 speakers as my L,C,R (for this test) I was able to hear the singing pan across the soundstage with little error and conforming to the movements of the actors on the screen. I like directional dialogue because for those of us who do use large screens and whose speakers are placed relatively close to the same width of the screen, it gives a greater sense of movement and realism. But…the only problem is that when panning between left-center or center-right, the effect isn’t perfectly realized because positioning and design of these two speakers are different. It still works though and it’s refreshing from the common “center-channel” prison dialogue receives.

    Background sounds in the surrounds are quiet and not that effective. The soundstage is up front while the surrounds provide a slight amount of ambience. Background noise is not noticeable at regular listening levels. Once the volume is turned up past a 75dB reference level the hiss becomes apparent.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This release gets top grades for special features. Both discs get a two-minute introduction by Julie Andrews. The first disc also includes the original audio commentary by Robert Wise that was taken from the laserdisc release. He speaks in select moments in the film and the track also serves as an “effects and music” track. There is no dialogue to the film and no singing. So if you want, you could use this track to sing the lyrics of each song to.

    This disc also features an all-new audio commentary by Julie Andrews as well as Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, choreographer Dee Dee Wood, and the real Johannes von Trapp. These commentaries were recorded separately and are edited together when topics of interest come up. All are well spoken and interesting to listen to.

    Disc 1 also has a sing-along option that is available in English, Spanish, and French (there are a few songs that aren’t available in French). These subtitles can be activated when watching the movie or these 24 scenes are accessible individually in the menu.

    The bulk of the features are on Disc 2 and all of them are new. None of these are featured on the Five Star Collection and no features from that out-of-print collection are featured on this disc. The first feature is My Favourite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers and it’s basically about her recalling the von Trapp family and how their story was converted to Hollywood and Broadway. It’s 1hr.03min long and also features Christopher Plummer, Johannes von Trapp, and Robert Wise. This feature is 4:3.

    Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminiscence (20min, 16:9) features these two comfortably sitting beside each other talking about the past. There is a lot of that on this disc because there is another features called From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion. All seven of the von Trapp children, as featured in the film, reunite in this “family reunion” as they look to the past (34min, 4:3ws).

    Since The Sound of Music was filmed in the beautiful city of Salzburg, Austria, there is a feature devoted to it. On Location with The Sound of Music has Charmian Carr taking us through a 23-minute walk through Salzburg and the areas used (and not used) in the film (16:9 with an SD camcorder).

    When You Know the Notes to Sing is a feature covering the event that took place at the Hollywood Bowl for the 40th Anniversary of this film. Julie Andrews hosted the crowd of 18 000 during costume contests and the sing along to the film (12min, 4:3ws).

    Also check out the A&E Biography - The von Trapp Family: Harmony & Discord (50min, 4:3), restoration comparisons, a Mia Farrow Screen Test (35s, 2.20:1), still galleries that include storyboards, behind the scenes, and Lobbycards and One Sheets. A theatrical teaser, a trailer, a 1st Anniversary Trailer, a 1973 Re-issue trailer, a testimonial trailer and two T.V. Spots are included too. None of them are enhanced for widescreen displays even though they are letterboxed. They appear to come from composite sources since associated artefacts are on the screen.


    IN THE END…

    FOX did a great job at assembling a very good DVD release for the 40th Anniversary for The Sound of Music. The disc looks fantastic, the original soundtrack hasn’t had any dramatic changes to it and still delivers directional dialogue as the theatrical presentation did. The special features on this disc are of very high quality in comparison to other classic titles but are still shy based on some other feature-loaded releases we’ve seen on the DVD market lately. I wish FOX would put more effort into the quality of how the special features of their films are presented. All-new materials (not just for this release but for all FOX DVDs) always appear to be shot with consumer standard-def camcorders and the images are cropped (or not) to fit as a widescreen enhanced feature. It seems like all of these interviews and location shoots look like hack compared to other studios that actually shoot their special features with HD cameras. At least the film was spared – because it’s the best presentation we’ve seen thus far. For this, I recommend this title to HTF readers.

    Michael Osadciw
    November 14, 2005.
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thanks, Michael!

    One of the great films of all time. For your enthusiasm it seems like Fox has "gone all out". I know there have been questions, but it sounds like you were generally pleased.

    I'm guessing since my viewing area is much smaller than yours, some of those issues won't be issues at all. [​IMG]

    Although in Mr. Harris' thread on TSoM, there was some doubt about whether a new high-def transfer was, indeed, used for this release. I'm glad you could confirm that it was.
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Michael...

    What leads you to believe that this transfer is based upon a restored film element?

    RAH
     
  4. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm a little confused by this, because from a variety of different sources I have gathered that SOM was originally a 4.0 mix (L,C,R,S) and that the 70mm 6-track prints were created by "spreading out" the three stage channels to five (combining L and C for the LC and C and R for the RC channels, with volume reduced for both). In such cases, were new 6-track masters created, or is this type of mix done on the fly, at the time the individual print was sounded?
     
  5. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Thanks for this wonderful and very detailed review.

    Ugh...now I'm tempted to get this new DVD knowing that, while not perfect, it does represent an improvement over the previous version which was very difficult to tolerate on my projector.

    I also look forward to clarification on the nature of the source for this new DVD. Let me commend Fox for the presentation of the historic mix properly presented in the best manner possible in 4.0 DD on this disc (though DTS would have been welcome).

    One thing I noticed...the color, contrast, and general look of the screen shots for this DVD (Ron's original post) look very much like the captures from DVDReview's very first look at the HD transfer prior to the first DVD compression job. That leads me to suspect that the image on this DVD could have resulted from a more faithful adaptation of that original film-tape transfer versus the previous overly-processed DVD.

    Despite the "sharper" look of the old DVD...if you want to see how the new image clearly has more real image detail...look at the stripes in Julie's dress in that opening shot. They get muddled from the HF ringing in the old DVD but come through distinctly in the new image (details in her face are so much more natural in this new version). It's definitely an improvement...(but I wonder how much better it ought to look)...

    Thanks to Ron for taking these screen captures from this thread:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=244309



    Old DVD, New DVD, cap from film-tape article (SD/LD):

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    One more:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    I'll stick with the original thanks.
     
  7. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    You mean DVDReview.com. [​IMG]

    DJ
     
  8. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    corrected... :b
     
  9. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I wont use the word "forced", but will say i am
    compelled to buy this release because of the new interviews/commentary/reunion, etc.
    Those choice bits alone are worth my buying it.
    Julie is my favorite thing.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Hey Jefferson!

    "Compelled" is a good word. I'm falling on the side which thinks that much like Ben-Hur and Wizard of Oz, the end result of TSoM will be an improvement. And, that even though the many experts here at the HTF are critical of much of the authoring of the disc, its going to look a lot better than the 5-Star. And, as you noted, there's always the new extras to help rationalize things a bit further! [​IMG]

    My system is not near up to the standards of the reviewers and others here at the forum...but the 5-Star TSoM is one of the few discs that even I would look at and be greatly disappointed. I'm hoping this fixes that!

    The question now is...do I feel "compelled" to go after Oklahoma! and State Fair?! [​IMG]
     
  11. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    Wow, after seeing these comparisons, the new one looks much more fuzzy, but definately cleaner (less that darn enhancement) and details are much better. Could that sharpness from the previous version have been all enhancement? If it was they succeeded in sharpness but that probably caused the very things we all hated about that transfer. After studying the posted frames, though, the new version looks much better. Look at Julie's dress, the detail of the stripes is there now. Too bad they couldn't get rid of that halo on the right side of her face, I assume they could have. So, again Fox has gotten another 20.00 out of me (actually 14.99 at Target). m I'll definately be awake so I can get to Target at 9am, and spend the rest of the day with my Sony VPL-11ht projector.A good watching at 110" will show what the disc really holds. Can't wait for the HD version. When this movie comes out in HD, I hope to have enough saved for Sony's V-100 projector that just came out, with fullo hd resolution. I'll have to go without food for a while, though. I am buying only necessities now on dvd, because hi-def is sooooooo close, and I am tired of double/triple dipping..
     
  12. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    I forgot to ask, for those that have the disc, how is the fidelity of the soundtrack? I always felt the high end was never that great before on the last dvd or any previous.
     
  13. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    based on the opening mountai n shot, the EE is abound aplenty...not our favourite thing [​IMG]

    this is on the 50" plasma. colours seem to be ok.

    will do a PJ test later.

    [​IMG] for now.
     
  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Yes and Yes.
     
  15. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Sharpness Detail.

    Two totally different concepts, frequently confused by those transferring from film to video and mastering said video.

    In my opinion, while the new version is not the EE disaster of the previous release, there is a significant lack of real detail in the video source due to the state (really the lack thereof) of the art at the time the film element was scanned.

    In the new edition, they lifted as much as possible of the sharpness from the transfer as they could while still maintaining an acceptable level of perceived "detail" in the image.

    Obviously, some think that the retained detail is not sufficient.

    A "new" issue that has surfaced that was previously hidden by excessive EE is a color misregistration issue, possibly created by the film to video transfer, or by the color correction process.

    So we have moved from a total disaster to a so-so effort when SOM is viewed on a large screen.

    While I'm glad for the improvements, I am sad that it still isn't as good as it could have been.

    I guess we should be thankful it's not the disaster that the Todd-AO "Oklahoma!" turned out to be.

    If you like R&H and want to see what the detail level of the transfer could have been, watch the 1962 version of "State Fair".

    Ted
     
  16. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    One would think that this being as important to Fox as Wizard of Oz is to MGM (and Warner), EXTREME CARE would have been taken, especially since they never got the transfer of this movie right. They certainly have made enough money from the video sales alone to take the film and correct every frame. I am hearing the scratch remains in the opening scene, and the halo around Julie in the opening scene. To me, there just is no excuse anymore wuith the wonderful transfers we are seeing. I am still excited. If it's better, I am happy for now until the blu-ray version, which hopefully will be the finale, the long awaited beautiful transfer of my favorite movie, which I yhave seen over 300 times since 1965.

    I've been reading that this transfer was taken from the negative.(?)....well, if there is any movie that Fox has made repeated prints from it's this one, perhaps this is the best that remains from the negative which, considering the movie is so popular (with all of its reissues and 70mm special showings),many runs were made and it simply faded some and was worn. But if this is the case, couldn't digital work be done, or would the result be like the previous dvd?
     
  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i'm wondering about this question from mr Harris.

    "Michael...

    What leads you to believe that this transfer is based upon a restored film element?

    RAH "
     
  18. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Tony

    Watch this space for an update.

    Mike
     
  19. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    ok comparing THX and Anniversary editions,

    adjusted the Marantz player. setups can affect results greatly.

    they seem to be the same print, same dirt specs on both.

    THX:

    Lots of EE, high contrast, less detail, lots of colour shifting.
    Strobing effect obvious during opening credits.
    LFE flag.

    Anniversary:

    Less EE, lower contrast, more detail, slight strobing.
    No LFE flag. Better colour. Slight centre channel strain.

    I'd favour the Anniversary edition, though the soft halo glow scenes can be jarring.

    Projection at 185" is acceptable.
    Will check the 50" plasma player settings.

    I switched players 3 times on PJ and compared 10 chapters.

    enjoy!

    time to test War of the worlds!
     
  20. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I'm going to have to buy... I avoided the last release. Wish they had done a better job, though.

    -Scott
     

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