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So, what about the Sound of Music on Blu-Ray?

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Stefan Adler, Göteborg, SwedenDate: 13.11.2010
Buying ones old 70mm titles from days gone by in the projection booth is a frustrating thing!

After the joy of seeing the Blu-Ray versions of "South Pacific" and "HTWWW", I stumbled upon a crappy "Patton", probably struck from a scope origin and an as good as to be expected "Zjivago". I didn’t even care to buy "Where Eagles Dare" or "Kelly’s Heroes", since they were not in the theatrical release versions for Europe, with intermission and entr’actes. Ah, well…

There have been lots of pre-fuzz about the now released Blu-Ray version of "Sound of Music". Even on this very site, we’ve been able to read about how digital is almost there and that there was almost no difference between a 70mm print and the new mint 6- or 8 k projection systems and files in a relatively fair projection comparison.

Of course I was eager to buy this newly digitally restored 45 anniversary marvel for my home cinema enjoyment. Not that I need to see the flick again, ever! I’ve done enough 70mm showings of that one to cover several lifetimes, with a number of different prints of varying ages and I wasn’t too fond of it either to begin with, though I’m both musical and 70mm buff to an extent that almost needs daily treatment. Shortly: I just needed it for my weekly projectionist’s cut sessions J…

Got in the mail today! Someone should be ashamed! Let’s shout out all over the Internet that digital is no way near the photochemical works done by Robert A. Harris & Co, with for example
"My Fair Lady", "Spartacus" or "Lawrence". It is more or less and outrage to state that! I take it that this has nothing to do with the actual Blu-Ray production, but is all in the original.

The image presented on by 42 inch Plasma bears no resemblance what so ever to the original qualities of the Todd-AO system and the prints I’ve come across during my 25 year career in the 70mm booths of Gothenburg. The original 70mm Todd-AO productions were sharp and crisp, yet soft and almost a bit pastel like.
More in 70mm reading:

The Passing of Stefan Adler

Sound of Music: A Proper Credit

I’m as normal as a Blu-Ray Pie…

Draken - A Brief Technical History

Me and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - a 50 year Love Story.

"How the West Was Won" now re-issued on DVD

Internet link:


Hi Thomas,

I too was also NOT impressed with the "SOM" Blu-ray. My problem was that it was way over enhanced, too sharp with display artifacts. Fine detail twittered and jittered on my Samsung 58" LCD. And by the way "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was just as bad. So here we are, Foxes "Oklahoma" 30 frame Todd-AO DVD was transferred very very soft and "SOM" was over the top with electronic sharpening. Go figure, who QC's this stuff?

Robert Weisgerber
Super Dimension 70
Stefan's lovely Todd-AO scene rejected by the producers - simply too male. Affectionately composed by Stefan Adler.

The image on the Blu-ray is over saturated and over contrasted. Too much of everything. It even flows badly in color between several different scenes. It seems like the restoration team almost had the urge to make "SoM" better and maybe even more up to today’s aesthetics than it originally was. Needless to say it is an impossible job, no matter how talented you are or how slick software you use. You can’t beat Todd-AO! And why on earth are there lots of grain in the picture?! "SoM" hadn’t any grain to speak of! The image looks more like it was originated on 35mm Scope or if there had been a loss of several generations from the original print master. It reminds me of those fastly made 35mm Scope prints from deLuxe, we all had the reluctant pleasure to run in the outskirts of town, once "SoM" left the big 70mm downtown screen, to have some additional overrun weeks uptown.

The sound restoration crew obviously carried the same lust for enhancement. This bothers me less! "SoM" wasn’t all that high fidelity super swell to begin with. As a matter of fact I think its original sound was a bit inferior to what the system could perform. It was not in class with the best from that era, like "WSS" or "IAMMMMW".

The sound people have done a fair job. It is not worse – maybe it’s even a bit better than it used to be, but I can hardly see any point with making it 7.1, other than possibly for commercial reasons to please less aware home theatre guys with playback in all speakers. I thought the holy rule for preservation and restoration was not to make it “better” than it actually was to begin with? Who knows what "better" is in fifty years?

To sum it up: This is a NO NO NO! Nothing more, nothing less!

Image: 2/5

Sound: 3/5

Money is better spent on some cans of beer while watching the old DVD on your resolution enhancing up scaling Blu-Ray player.

With hope for better releases in the future!
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Updated 30-06-22