The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, 1965. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Back in the dark ages of VHS, I remember being thrilled when I could actually buy The Sound of Music and watch it whenever I wanted, not just on whatever holiday the networks chose to trot it out. Ever since I saw the movie on the big screen in the early ’70s, it had become one of my favorite things because Julie Andrews was right up there with Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore in my youthful pantheon of perfection.
Then, as an adult, I saw The Sound of Music again on a big screen. It was like seeing a whole different movie from what I was used to seeing on videotape. The TV version was pan-and-scan, meaning they decided widescreen (with the black bars across the top and the bottom) was unacceptable but shifting focus on certain parts of that widescreen and cutting out the rest was perfectly all right. From then on I couldn’t watch the movie on TV unless it was letterboxed.
With the advent of DVD, letterboxing became the norm – preserving the original screen ration as the cinematographer and director intended. No more cutting out VonTrapp children during “Do Re Mi.” I didn’t mind shelling out more money for the DVD because the format seemed to be the apex of the home video revolution. Then came the special anniversary DVD edition of the movie, which featured new features, including interviews with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (not to mention a promotional film starring Charmian Carr about her life as a teen movie star working in Austria). Had to buy that one.
Then the Rodgers and Hammerstein folks released a box-set collection of all the R&H movie musicals (except Flower Drum Song), which included the special edition Sound of Music discs I already had. But I had to have the whole set.
If you’re counting, that’s four times I purchased The Sound of Music for my home collection. Somehow I bypassed the LaserDisc craze, so that saved me some money. And please don’t get me started on all the various versions of the soundtrack I’ve owned through the years (remember 8-track?).
I’m savvy enough to know that I’ll probably never be done spending money on The Sound of Music. Couldn’t resist going (more than once) to the Sing-Along Sound of Music at the Castro Theatre, and I’m always open to seeing the movie on a big screen in a theater with a great sound system. I thought about downloading a digital version of the movie, but it’s not available … yet. That one can’t be too far away.
Until then, we have yet another format and another potential purchase. Come next Christmas, we’ll be able to have a near-perfect Sound of Music experience in our own homes with the Blu-ray release. Here’s a teaser trailer.
For further VonTrappist fun, check out this entry in a long line of re-cut trailers casting sunny musicals as horror films. This one is my favorite of the Sound of Music efforts.