The Power of Song in The Sound of Music

So we’re going to start off with the 1965 film The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  This Rodgers and Hammerstein musical won 5 Oscars in 1966, including Best Director and Best Picture.  On the TSPDT list, it comes in at a respectable 402.

For those of you unaware (poor sods), The Sound of Music is the “true story” (read: wildly inaccurate version of events that kinda sorta happened) of an Austrian captain, his seven children, and the singing governess that joins their family on the eve of World War II. 

Maria is a young nun-in-training (aka N.I.T.) who is sent away from the convent to take care of an inattentive widower’s seven (!!!) children.  The kids are pretty much jerks to her (ie acting out so that their father will pay attention to them), but Maria uses the Power of Song to bond with them, and they’re fast friends.  In no time at all, they’re frolicking through Salzburg in Maria’s old curtains and singing their little hearts out.

Unfortunately, Poppa von Trapp isn’t too pleased when he sees his children acting in such an undignified manner, especially in front of his lady friend, the Baroness.  Despite the fact that the film does a good job not making her a villainess (she’s really not a bad person), when I was a kid, I couldn’t help but see her as this:

After the children have their spectacular entrance via falling out of a boat, the Captain and the Governess have a pretty intense argument.  The kids reconnect with their father through the Power of Song (which seriously, should kind of be a superpower based on how many times it saves the family in this movie), and Maria stays with the von Trapps.  Luckily, because otherwise we would miss out on the yodeling goat number (I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s sarcasm).

So then the Von Trapps party it up, and *shudder gasp* Maria starts to realize that she totes has feelings for the Captain.  Which of course, being a N.I.T., she is completely unequipped to cope with.  She decides to deal with this by running away…because that will fix everything.


We're back with the von Trapp children, glumly playing a ball game with their soon to be stepmother, the Baroness, and a friend of the family (Uncle Max) is scheming to get the von Trapp family entered into a singing competition.  The kids trek all the way to the convent to try to get Maria back, but she's way too busy being angst-ridden to see them, until the Abbess shows her the way with (wait for it) the Power of Song.

So Maria's back!  Yay!  Only now she finds out that the Baroness and the Captain are engaged, so she's all sad face again.  Luckily for her, the Captain isn't really that into his engagement either, so he and the Baroness have a heart to heart and call the whole thing off.  Then he runs off to sing with Maria awkwardly in the shadows.  And even though he was engaged to another woman literally minutes earlier, they profess their love for each other and he busts out the engagement ring, which I can only imagine is stay nice and polished from sliding on and off fingers.

Maria becomes Mrs. The Captain, and by the time they get back from their honeymoon, Salzburg is all Nazified and The Captain is expected to report for duty.  I sense trouble. Sure enough, the von Trapp family has to leave Austria that very night.  Unfortunately, their butler fulfills his god-given role as butler and finks on them.  So while sneakily rolling their car down the driveway (and presumably, all the way to Switzerland?), the Austrian Nazis show up and act all suspicious.  Luckily, good old Uncle Max had signed the family up to sing in a music festival, which the Captain swiftly uses as an excuse to delay being taken away.  Is that the Power of Song to the rescue again?  I should have known better than to doubt it!

After singing a few heart-breaking songs, the family uses the presentation of the second and third place awards to flee the theater.  They seek refuge at the  convent, where the nuns give them sanctuary.  Everything would have been fine, except for the fact that Leisl is a Moron who wants her family to be horribly murdered.  And by this, of course, I refer to the moment when the family is hiding safely out of sight, until Leisl sees Rolfe and lets out an audible gasp, quickly alerting the Nazis to their presence.  Freaking Leisl.

Luckily for the von Trapps, Rolfe is a little bitch who doesn't have the stones to shoot the Captain when he has the chance.  Also luckily for the von Trapps, several of the nuns seem to have been moonlighting as mechanics, as they easily disable the Nazi's car.  It's convenient, but also pretty hilarious, as the nuns sheepishly produce part of the freaking car to show the Reverend Mother. Clearly the score in this game is Nazi Soldiers - 0, Soldiers of God - Several million.

So the von Trapps escape over the Alps (which interestingly enough, don't actually go right to fact, you'd have to hike through Germany before you got to Switzerland) and live happily ever after.

So is it good?  Of course.  It's a classic of the musical genre, it's beautifully shot, and features lovely, iconic performances by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  Clearly something in this film resonates with several generations of audiences, because it continues to be a much loved film.  Sure it can be a bit sappy, which is probably why some people just can't get into it, but in my opinion, it plays the sappiness in just the right way so that it seems earnest and rather touching.  I'm a big fan!

Random Musings:
  •     That one nun is kind of a bitch.  Who peed in her holy water?  I do like the other nuns trying to be nice though, “It’s very easy to like Maria, except when it’s…uh…difficult.”  Fantastic.

  •   What’s a flibbertigibbet?  Are those in the Bible? Edit: Wikipedia says it’s a flightly or whimsical person, usually a young woman.  Thank you, Internet!  What did I do without you?  Oh yeah, I remember.  This:

  •   Awww, small, militant children marching…I thought Captain von Trapp didn’t want his family to be like the Nazis?

  •   Is it bad that, despite the pole up his ass, I kind of have a thing for the Captain?

  •        I love the scene at the dinner table, when Maria makes the kids cry with guilt for being mean to her.  Nothing beats emotional blackmail.  Maria: 1, Brats: 0

  •        So I’ve seen this movie a million times, and this is the first time that I’m really getting a gay vibe from Rolfe.  Look at the look on his face when Liesl tries to kiss him. 

      He's pretty much, "Ewww get your girly parts away from me!"  Then they dance around for a while; he pecks her on the lips, and runs away.  Really?

  •        OK, climbing into the governess’ room one-handed with a jar of spiders in the other hand?  First of all, what kind of freak show collects a jar of spiders?  That’s got to be a fairly complicated process.  These children are disturbed.

  •        Edelweiss is my favorite song, and I can’t even begin to tell you the devastation I felt when I found out that it isn’t actually an Austrian folk song/national anthem.  I don’t want to be dramatic, but it was pretty much on the same level as discovering that *spoiler alert* Santa isn’t a real guy, or that the cat I had when I was 8 didn’t actually “go off to live with a nice family on a farm with lots of room for it to run around and play”.

  •       Love the Austrian folk dance and the chemistry between Maria and the Captain…I was terrified that it wasn’t actually a real Austrian folk dance, and my heart would be broken again, but it seems that for the most part it's pretty accurate.  Dodged a bullet there.

  •        Huge fan of the kids singing goodnight to everyone, even with Kurt’s redonkulous high note (I’ve never used the word “redonkulous” before, but I honestly can’t think of a better word to describe that abomination of the vocal cords).  Less enthused by the lame adults singing back to them.    Gretl wins the award for cutest little girl in the entire world.  She’s like this in human form.

  •        Also, this: “You flatter me, Captain.” “Oh, how clumsy of me.  I meant to accuse you.”  Sick burn, Georg.  Sick burn.  You tell that Nazi scum.

  •   Can we talk about the dumbest line in the entire movie?  Friedrich, who is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD, tells his father that they went blueberry picking.  The Captain then informs him that blueberries aren't in season.  His response? "They were's been so cold lately they turned blue!"  Really, Friedrich?  You racked your adolescent mind for the best possible excuse, and that was it?  My Friedrich respect meter just went way down.

  •   I love that when Uncle Max lists off their names in the program, Gretl complains about always being last, because I definitely did that all the time when I was a kid.  I couldn't fathom why my sister's name should be before mine just because she's older.  Lame.

  •   Big fan of this exchange: "I've not asked you where you and your family are going. Nor have you asked me why I am here." "Well, apparently, we're both suffering from a deplorable lack of curiosity." Smooth, Captain.

That's it for my first review.  Hope you enjoyed it!  And don't forget to stay tuned for my next review, Back to the Future!

Want to know more about the Top 1000 List?  Check it out and see if your favorites are here! They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?

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Anonymous said...

Good job, Audrey on a Mission! Very witty and insightful stuff...can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

That was an awesome review! Glad you liked it!!

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