Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Movie Review: 'The Sound of Music' Still Magical After 50 Years

The Sound of Music (1965, directed by Robert Wise. U.S.A., English, Color, 174 minutes) One of the first movies I ever loved was "The Sound of Music". There was something so grand about the film that always drew me in. It was a magnificent event each time watching that movie, as if I had never seen it before. Much of it comes from Julie Andrews, whose wonderfully joyous presence in the previous year's "Mary Poppins" earned her an Academy Award for her debut film performance. 

All of the joy and happiness of "The Sound of Music" comes from Andrews' presence, always so caring to her co-stars during the good and the bad, and every time I'm excited to see her play Maria von Trapp.

I remember having a two-tape VHS copy of the movie — yeah, remember those? — and I would play it all the time. It was never a daunting task to rewind the first cassette before popping in the second one to watch the second act of one of the best films of all time.

Somehow, the almost three-hour run time was never an issue for my very young self. Every time I watched the film I was engrossed from the get-go with the jolly, up-beat songs, even from the very beginning with those sweeping helicopter shots of the mountains that lead up to Andrews' now iconic twirl on top of a hill before singing the titular song.
The film was about 30 years old when I first started watching it, but it was a staple in my family, we all loved it and never minded when it was. It is, of course, one of the most beloved family movies of all time, and it's easy to see why.

But what I saw on that fullscreen VHS copy of the film was made right with an early DVD release, allowing me to endure the correct widescreen and ENTIRE scope of the classic film. The enchanting musical didn't change, it just got better and better.

It has continued to be released on DVD and Blu-ray releases throughout the years with a paramount in technicalities coming with a 50th anniversary screening in theaters thanks to Fathom Events. Everything I had loved about the film was enlarged 10-fold just because of the big screen. Most importantly, I was was made aware about the power of cinema and how over 50 years ago film was a medium of awe and cheerfullness that has since been depleted by the cash cows of mediocrity that has plagued the Hollywood system.

It's one thing to watch a classic on your TV, it's another to witness it on the big screen. As soon as I saw Andrews on top of the mountain I got goosebumps. It was a surreal experience to know that what I was feeling is what audiences felt 50 years ago when the film was released. The grand sweeping nature of those opening shots that culminate in a woman belting out one of the most iconic songs in musical history is only the start. 

What transpires over the next 2 hours and 50 minutes is a warm and fuzzy story about love, family and happiness that has bypassed most of the musicals that have come before it. There's something about those infectious, easy to learn songs like "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi" that have kept kids and adults transfixed to the story for so many generations. Needless to say, I was one of them. It never gets old listening to those songs that have stood the test of time.

And what a difference it is to see a classic musical on the big screen! Seeing "Chicago" or "Into the Woods" isn't the same because they're so saturated with so much style that it has lost the charm of the typical Hollywood musical that were so culturally accepted. Seeing
"The Sound of Music" in theaters 
is how classics are supposed to be seen, as was customary 50 years ago before TV and home video took over.

This beautiful high definition really brings to life the wonderful production values that I've been used to seeing on a small screen, with not as many pixels as the world has been awarded with now. It adds a deeper layer of richness to the stick sweet musical and makes the romance between the Captain and Maria/the Baroness even more romantic with the soft glow of cinematographer's Ted McCord's work.

"The Sound of Music" is everything a good film used to be: wonderful acted, perfectly produced and enjoyable to everyone. This is a clean product that reminds the world of a simpler time - not of the rise of Nazi Germany, but the homegrown values of family from the '60s. Its a testament that good entertainment doesn't have to be stuck in the period it was made, and that it will last longer than anything else made in the same time period.

What a joy it was to hear the hills come alive in a movie theater. 

Rating: A+

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