The sound of music was not one of my parents’ favorite things, therefore I don’t have fond childhood memories like the Wizard of Oz or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which were always perennial Christmases in our house. As a teenager, I can remember that every time the movie came on TV, the channel would quickly change before Julie Andrews sang the first line of the title song. It’s easy to understand why, because The Sound of Music didn’t look good when panning and scanning on a 24-inch screen and it certainly didn’t sound good through small Mono speakers.

It’s safe to say that the film is often easily dismissed as too maudlin and terribly dated even for the time it was made in 1965, after the entire stage show had first been a hit in 1959 and would be Rodgers & Hammerstein’s last together. When I was finally able to watch it in its entirety at age 20, I had the benefit of watching it on DVD on a 32-inch widescreen TV, and I was utterly captivated by it. Director Robert Wise, who edited Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, managed to tell the story of the Von Trapps with all the songs, but without the saccharin. He too captured the reality of The Anschlu├č without preaching or oversimplifying the politics of Nazi Germany and its occupation of Austria in 1938.

Now we come to the 45th anniversary Blu-ray edition and the film blows me away again and this time I have the advantage of watching it with my son who is 5 years old and I am amazed that he is enthralled with the Salzburg tour that is Do-Re-Mi, the stunning 70mm digitally restored print filling the 50-inch plasma screen in glorious 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer between the best i’ve ever seen. Every note rings out crystal clear in immaculate 7.1 DTS-HD quality and you realize that what you saw on the old TVs growing up in the 1980s could never do justice to the 1965 Best Picture Oscar winner and must be partly responsible for the film’s poor reputation for so many years.

The package comes with a second Blu-ray packed with extras, the best of which, to my taste, is Rodgers & Hammerstein: The Sound of Movies, a feature-length retrospective that charts the entire story of their successful creative collaboration hosted by Maria Von Trapp’s original set, Mary Martin. There’s also a lengthy interview with screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who also penned Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, in which he recounts the process of bringing his vision of The Sound of Music to movie audiences. He owes it in no small measure that he stripped much of the sentimentality from the script and injected it with authenticity and genuine wit.

I hope that now that it has been restored to its former glory, future audiences will be lucky enough to grow up with this wonderful story of one family’s struggle through song to travel across the Alps and far beyond the clutches of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, featuring some of the best folk songs written in the 20th century; not just the title track and Do-Re-Mi, but also My Favorite Things, Lonely Goatherd and Edelweiss packed with breakout performances from the indefatigable Julie Andrews and a dryly humorous turn as the stern patriarch of the redoubtable Christopher Plummer. The sound of the music looks as crisp and bright as a new pin on Blu-ray, and as a testament to its enduring appeal, my son has asked me to play Do-Re-Mi every day this month!

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