Posted November 01 2010 - 04:31 PM
After a great family Thanksgiving dinner, there is nothing I think would suit the occasion better than 20th Century Fox's new restoration on Blu-ray of The Sound of Music! From early reports, including a glowing review from Robert Harris, Fox has outdone themselves and finally released the ultimate transfer of this movie from Todd-AO source material.
A little history: I am 48 years old. When I was 5 my parents took me to see the movie in Virginia, Minnesota, a small town north of Duluth where I grew up. I sat there in a trance. Everything about the movie seemed like a dream. Being Jewish, my parents were concerned about my being 5 and took me out at the end of the wedding scene to avoid the Nazis. Every year after that until its run on ABC TV on February 29,1976 at 6pm central (yes I remember everything about this movie), the theater would show the movie one weekend every year after that. We always had a scratchy 35mm print but it never mattered, I went every night for the 3 nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). As a kid from 5 on, I went through roughly 25 copies of the RCA soundtrack album. Then, when Magnetic Video released the very first VHS version , I was in a state of bliss. I delivered papers, went around town and worked any job I could find until I could afford the first General Electric VHS machine, which at the time was almost $1000.00 (the old heavy top loaders). It took me an entire summer and fall to save that money working 3-4 jobs a day, to buy a machine for this one movie. I was probably the first person in town with a VCR. When I bought it, I was in true bliss and played it many times over.
After that, I purchased every new version, there were 4 different releases on VHS (even if it was the same transfer I would buy it for the new cover art). Then came laserdisc and when the movie came out, I was able to watch the movie in stereo sound for the first time at home. Bliss again! Then came the widescreen laserdiscd (the print looked all red but it was great to see the entire image) and then finally the box set, and finally after that the Dolby AC-3 laserdisc. From there, I spent 9 months excited for the Five Star Collection DVD, which turned out to be full of edge enhancement. Then the 40th anniversary edition, better but it never looked or sounded right.
When I was 19 I moved from my small town of Eveleth in northern Minnesota to Minneapolis for college. I got an apartment and met a great woman upstairs and we became good friends. She kept telling me of her ex brother-in-law that was a projectionist since the 1950's and became the head projectionist at Mall of America theaters, and I Just had to meet him (because of my home theater set up in my apartment). He came over and was unaware of laserdisc. His name was John Novak. He was very much into sound and film, so his job was the love of his life, and his favorite 2 movies were Ben Hur and The Sound of Music. The first disc I played for him was The Sound of Music. I had the very first Dolby Surround home theater processor and he was stunned they even made one for the home. I will never forget his face when his jaw dropped watching the pan and scan stereo laserdisc. This was the start of a friendship that only happens to some people once in their lifetime. Every time after that a new version was released, we would always go to the store, pick it up and then go to his house to watch it. We both always commented that it never seemed right, the sound should have always been better considering Fox's sound department and the picture being Todd-AO should have been so much better. He always told me stories of the special advance test screening of The Sound of Music he projected at the Mann theater in Minneapolis for one night (They had one night test screenings in Minneapolis and Tulsa before the premiere). For 29 years, he and I were best of friends and this year we were very excited for the new Blu-ray coming out because of the early talk that Fox was going all-out on this transfer. Sadly, on March 15 of this year, he had cardiac arrest in the parking lot of the emergency room in Minneapolis, he never made it inside. So this release is such an exciting experience for me and yet alot of sorrow comes with it. I have seen the film 281 times and scanned songs probably thousands of times, especially that opening scene.
In 1988, I tested positive for HIV from a blood transfusion after a car accident.. I have gone through 22 years of worry and so many different issues. But since then, whenever I feel down or times seem hard, I can always pop in my latest version of The Sound of Music and it never fails to bring me out of my sadness and makes me feel full of hope with it's wonderful score, including such songs as I have Confidence and Climb Every Mountain, which always give me hope for a cure to this terrible disease and it never fails to lift my spirits. With the beautiful cinematography, what better movie to watch on an Epson 8700 projector after a wonderful family Thanksgiving dinner.
I have had an Epson 1080 (the original, not UB) since 2006 which I purchased by saving from my disability checks for 2 years. 2 months ago, out of warranty, the machine stopped working, and after sending it to Epson, told me it would cost over $1000 to fix. It is too much for me. So I have been using my old 35" tube set in the meantime. I have an "Elite" brand 150" screen and a 7.1 channel surround system. So what a great Thanksgiving gift it would be to have the 8700, a projector which I have been looking at on the internet so many times, which I hear is such an improvement, to view this new wonderful transfer of my favorite movie that has so many memories on Blu-ray on my big screen!!! I would be in pure bliss! And I would be watching with my family but also for my former friend John, who I know would be up there watching with me, and giving thanks for my life and being healthy for now.
Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!