The Sound of Music is THE family movie, it has great performances, unforgettable songs and a beautiful backdrop. So how does a film released in 1965 fare in 2020? The answer is VERY WELL.
A young postulate named Maria in Salzburg Austria (expressly described as a flibbertigibbet, will-o’-the-wisp and clown) is sent to the Von Trapp house to be the new governess to seven children. While there she fills the house with joy and music eventually capturing the heart of the Von Trapp children and their father.
The story is such a hopeful one. It focuses on family and the healing nature of music and I think that’s why it so beloved. I watched the movie with my parents and when it ended my dad turned to my mum and I and asked “What is it about this movie that people love?” which led us into a deep analysis of the movie and we came up with a few points. People love this movie for a few reasons
- It’s family-oriented
- Has really cute children
- Has great music
- Is filled with beautiful scenery
- (Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the movie but it’s been out for 55 years, that one is on you if you haven’t seen it by now. Also, know that I am judging you.) The good guys getaway in the end
This is Julie Andrews’s movie. Maria is the heart and soul of the movie and if her performance didn’t work the whole movie would fall apart. The last time I watched this movie was 2 years go on my 19th birthday and back then I wasn’t paying attention to movie the way I am now. That is to say that I used to think Maria was one-dimensional character, but that isn’t the case. There is so much to her and you can see that from the first 20 minutes of the movie when she says that she felt the hills were “calling out to her”. As the movie goes on you see her grow and learn but you also see the different sides to her. Maira is kind, caring, witty and fierce when she needs to be and all of these things make for a well-rounded character. When you add in the fact that Julie Andrews as an actress is likeable, (I mean she’s Mary Poppins, how could she NOT be likeable?) you have a character who is not only appealing to the other characters but is appealing to the audience themselves.
The other actor who makes the movie is Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. He’s the antithesis of Maria’s cheerful demeanour as he comes across cold and stoic (at the beginning of the films anyway.) and because of where his character starts, the journey he goes on throughout the movie is interesting to watch, You see him open up to his children and fall in love with Maria all the while still maintaining his stoic nature when it comes to those who don’t know him as well. Christopher Plummer’s chemistry with Julie Andrews is palpable especially when Maria and Captain von Trapp argue. You can tell that these are actors who know their characters and each other very well and it makes for an engaging performance on both of their parts.
The supporting characters are also incredibly charming. The actors who plat the von Trapp children are a delight to watch as they feel like a real family and because of that, their heartwarming moments hit home even more. The whole cast has chemistry and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside when you see them grow over the course of the film because you want them to win. Especially towards the end then the nuns helpt he von Trapp family escape, you’ve seen all the characters interact throughout the movie and knowing that they’re doing what they are doing because they care about the characters makes you care as well.
Translating a play to a movie is something that could go very badly (I’m looking at you Cats) as a lot of scenes that are stagnant to take place in small spaces have to accommodate different locations and these changes could cause fundamental changes in the way the story is told. This is something the writer Ernest Lehman had to consider as he translated the musical from stage to screen but after makes changes cutting some songs and rearranging the sequence of others, he managed to write an adaptation that is loved by millions. Now I haven’t seen the play (shocking considering how much I’ve watched this movie) but I’d like to watch them back to back to see the differences and if they change how you see one another.
I can imagine that the production of this movie was huge when it was made in 1965 but Robert Wise the director made it work. From rearranging scenes when it rained (something that apparently happened a lot) tp using helicopters to get the perfect angle for this shot
It clear that he put so much care into making this movie and it really does pay off. Not many 55-year-old movies manage to look this good now but this one does. It never really feels dated which is surprising given the aforementioned age of the movie and the time period it is set in. And when it does feel a little dated you instantly forgive because this movie can really do no wrong in many eyes. (Including my own.)
This movie clocks in at a whopping 174 minutes which is 2 hours and 54 minutes and you don’t really feel it. The only thing that alludes to the passage of time is the interlude which films these days don’t have.
A lot of the movie was filmed on location in Salzburg and it looks stunning, especially the first shot of the movie in the mountains. While we watched the movie my parents would sporadically stop and show me photos they took during their trip and we would compare it to the movie and the city really is that gorgeous in real life. It looks like something out of a movie and I guess to come extent it is. Even though the movie is over 50 years old and times have changed, the city hasn’t changed that much and the government has managed to preserve the spirit of the movie. Ted D. McCord’s cinematography shows a place so beautiful, that one could believe it was a set that was built rather than a pace that exists.
Something else that drew my eye during this viewing was the costume design and how the characters’ clothes evolve as they do. As Maria becomes more accustomed to life in their von Trapp house, her clothes become less frumpy and something similar can be said for the children. The clothes they wear at the start of the movie reflects their strict upbringing and it gets freer as the movie progresses, reflecting the change the children go through.
Seeing as the movie is called “The Sound of MUSIC” you can assume that a lot of emphasis is paid on the music and that assumption would be correct dear reader. The music in this movie is nothing short of spectacular and I’m not just saying that. There is a reason the soundtrack of this movie is one of the most successful soundtracks of all time.
One issue people (and by people I mean me) have with musicals is that the music takes away from the story as the music will be infinitely better than the movie or vice versa, but here the two (film and music) are fused together in a way where they both prop each other up. When it comes to musicals, the music has multiple jobs, it can convey what a character feels, give exposition to the audience, to push the story forward or to make you feel good and you have examples of all of these in this movie
1) Convey how a character feels
2)Give exposition to the audience
3)Push the story forward
4)Make you feel good
I really could use any of the songs in the movie to explain my point because all of them do at least one of the four things mentioned. Some of them do more than one. One thing I can guarantee for sure is that all the songs in this movie will make you feel good and that is a testament to the talent of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II who wrote the music and lyrics for the original broadway as well as some of the new songs used in the movie.
This movie is one of the most iconic movies ever made and for good reason. I watched this movie for the first time when I was a child over 15 years ago and I still have the exact reaction as an adult. What is even more astounding was watching my parents watch the movie, they had just come back from Vienna a few weeks ago and you could see the wonder on their faces as the places they saw in real life were shown in the movie. For reference, my mum saw this movie over 30 years ago and she was singing along to every word at the top of her lungs.
The best way to describe this movie would be magical. It has that feel-good feeling while also telling a story that feels timeless (and in some ways is) while also balancing extremely harsh subject matter in a way that doesn’t feel like it is taking away from the severity of the historical events that took place. Something that a lot of movies based on historical events seem to do.
It is the perfect escape movie, and if it’s been a few years since you’ve seen it, watch it again I can guarantee that you’ll remember what you love the movie so much because that’s exactly what happened to me.
Originally published at http://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on April16, 2020.