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Film Review: The Sound of Music
In 1965, Robert Wise released The Sound of Music, adapted from the 1959 Broadway musical of the same name by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr, Nicholas Hammond, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath, Anna Lee, Portia Nelson, Ben Wright, Daniel Truhitte, Norma Varden, Marni Nixon, Evadne Baker, and Doris Lloyd, the film grossed $286.2 million at the box office. Nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Art Direction – Set Decoration – Color, and Best Costume Design – Color as well as the Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and Best Director – Motion Picture, the film won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Scoring of Music – Adaptation or Treatment and the Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical or Comedy.
Maria Rainer, a young woman in the Nonnberg Abbey, is sent to be a governess to the seven children of retired Navy Captain Georg von Trapp. However, she discovers that he runs a tight ship and can’t stand to be reminded of his wife, making it so he spends a lot of time in Vienna with Baroness Elsa Schraeder. His children are therefore rebellious and disdainful of Maria but when she’s kind to them and befriends them, they warm up to her and soon enough Captain Von Trapp rediscovers his happiness, falling in love with Maria.
Given the treatment as a Christmas movie for many years even though it isn’t, The Sound of Music is great film in its own right. Still though, it’s actually pretty strange that this film has been branded as a Christmas film, most likely because of the song “My Favorite Things.” However the song isn’t even related to Christmas, even though sleigh bells and winter are mentioned, and it’s actually about thinking of what calms a person down when they’re scared. But that’s really the only tie people have given it to the holiday, since the plot doesn’t happen around Christmas or December and centers on life in Austria before the rise of the Third Reich.
That being said though, the film does have a great story full of personal redemption and love. Interestingly, both Maria and Captain von Trapp are personally redeemed in one way or another. For the former, it actually comes in the way of finding where she fits in life. At the beginning of the film, she’s in a convent, but the life there doesn’t suit her and she’s outside of it far more often than she is inside and the film even presents her in the first scene as dancing around the hills. It takes being sent to be a governess and a few talks with the Reverend Mother to realize that she isn’t suited for being a nun. As for the Captain, he gets a greater personal redemption with the most overt character arc in the film. He starts off cold and distant from his children, not allowing them to enjoy life at all and controlling them via whistle. Throughout the film as Maria shows them the pleasures of life and singing, they begin to touch him and he starts to grow closer to them. It culminates with them becoming a close-knit family of singers after he marries Maria.
Even apart from his redemption and character development, Captain von Trapp is quite the character. What really defines him is his attitude towards the Nazis. He hates them and it shows. Usually, he can control his temper when confronting them and their sympathizers. Yet, the opposite happens when Max makes a remark that boils down to whatever happens will happen regarding their coming invasion and he gets quite angry. There’s also the point when he remarks that Zeller is going to be the entire trumpet section when they come and the response is that Zeller is flattered. Trapp just remarks that he meant to be accusatory.
Still though, there’s a lot of humor found in the film, especially at the end when the nuns reveal that they cut the Nazi’s spark plugs. However, a really good moment comes after Liesl says that Louisa can make the climb to Maria’s room with a jar of spiders in her hand. Following Maria’s reaction, she spends the rest of the scene checking everything and eventually jumps at the sight of slippers.
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