The Sound of Music (1965)
"The Sound of Music"...or as it's known to its critics "The Nazi Musical" can seem too cheerfully annoying and peacefully chiding of its horrendous source material. Indeed, the Nazi-ization of Austria seems hardly the right setting for a musical about a girl who discovers that she can experience life to its fullest; but that's perhaps the greatest charm of "The Sound of Music"—effortlessly blending the happiness of everyday life with the struggle of circumstances beyond your control.
Maria (Julie Andrews reaffirming her star status as a lead musical actress), is a nun-in-training with a passion for nature. The opening song which includes the most famous image of the movie—Julie Andrews spinning around on top of a mountain, ecstatic—is all about nature. The hills of Austria sing songs with Maria and she loses herself in them...then she realizes that she needs to be back at the convent.
Rushing back just in time to miss everything important, Maria starts to be doubted by the nuns. They aren't quite sure that she fits in.
As a punishment of sorts and somewhat a vacation to all parties involved, the nuns send Maria away to be the governess of seven children: the Von Trapp family.
Headed by a military-ordered gentlemen/prude, the Von Trapp children have made themselves notorious for being able to break governess' spirits within a matter of hours.
The seven children don't exactly take to Maria and she isn't wowed by Captain Von Trapp's incessant need for strict routine—all he's doing is making his children cruel pranksters.
But like all musicals of the mid 20th century, there only needs to be a few musical numbers to convince everyone to love Maria...because who doesn't like Julie Andrews?
Marriages start to be announced, Maria doubts her position, the children all start to grow up, and the Third Reich is slowly rearing its ugly head.
Having seen "The Sound of Music" several times in my childhood, I don't think I quite caught all the nationalistic thoughts that are rampant and unashamed in the movie. It's a very clear thought: Nazis are bad. I think most people watching the movie could agree with this sentiment.
At one time, to show how children fared during this transitional period, the script has one child asking about "the flag with the black spider on it"...sometimes "The Sound of Music" could overstep its own boundaries.
Then again, just two years after this movie came Mel Brooks' "The Producers" which really was about a musical with Nazis, so maybe "The Sound of Music" really doesn't overstate its emotions as much as it seems viewing it with 21st century eyes.
The one thing the movie does extremely well is have context changes. These happen in the form of songs. A cheery song will be reprised later and it will have an entirely different meaning than when you first heard it...which brings me to another point.
I would argue that "The Sound of Music" has a virtually unrivaled musical score. Each and every song that is sung is famous now, known by heart, with no exceptions. What other movie can make that claim? No other musicals come to mind, not even "Mary Poppins" (Andrews' debut and her Oscar winning role).
The one thing that can become too much is how sweet the movie is. Maria's relationship with the children blooms and became pungently wonderful. They learn about the musical scales on the top of a mountain and sing their way through a storm, but beneath the dancing and fake smiles there is a genuine relationship portrayed.
It's light and also surprisingly powerful. When the greatest moments of the film come, it's hard to think that this innocent musical could have any critics.
Nominated for ten Oscars and bringing home five, including the elusive Best Picture award, "The Sound of Music" lives on way past its accolades. Just ask Carrie Underwood.
Posted by Micah Jones