Saturday 25 June 2011

My Eternal Struggle With The Sound of Music

        The Sound of Music is one musical that everyone, who speaks any remote form of English, has seen. I can personally vouch that it's the most famous English musical as far as Indian people go. This is because the songs are lovely, and (I think) the whole nun-meets-seven-children-and-father-and-sings-songs-and-falls-in-love-with-father-and-then-becomes-the-children's-mother-thing is something that Indian audiences will eat up.
       I am one of the very few people I know that didn't think the world of The Sound of Music. I had only seen it a couple of times as a kid, and it didn't really enamour me the way it did everyone else. This feeling of discontent only grew as I grew older. A couple of days back, I had a stupid argument with one of my friends because she kept on calling Maria a chimney-sweep and yeah...poor confused girl. Oddly enough, this whetted my curiosity about whether I still find the film silly or not. And so I watched it after many many years last night.

Things I liked about The Sound of Music:

1) The introduction to Maria- I think this has to be one of the loveliest introductions to a character ever. The film opens with images of the scenic Austrian town Salzburg, and then it brings us to this place- the greenest mountain top with the sapphire sky above it and this woman twirling with her arms wide open and taking in all its glory before breaking out into the song "The Sound Of Music". And the oddest thing is, I can actually imagine that the hills have sung this song for a thousand years. A place this magical...anything can happen.

2) The nuns- Screw the children; how cute were the nuns? Maybe it's because of my religious convictions, but whenever a person of God does something totally uncharacteristic...I love it! Whether it was them singing or bitching about Maria behind her back (in song and prayer of course), or kicking out the kids from the abbey, or just the ending when the super-bitchy nun and the nice one say that they have sinned- it just gives me too much joy. Peggy Wood, who played the Reverend Mother, was actually nominated for an Oscar for her role.

3) The songs- I think we've all grown up listening to these songs. My mother actually used to sing "My Favourite Things" to me to make me feel better as a kid. I liked all the songs, but ofcourse some of them can be a bit annoying to listen to constantly. Now one song that I didn't remember at all, and has sort of become my favourite since yesterday was "Edelweiss". And one of my friends had long ago used "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" to describe me, and after yesterday that makes me very happy :)

4) Julie Andrews and her voice- I love Julie Andrews! So very much!! She is so sweet and funny and kind, and noone could have played Maria but her. One of my favourite parts is when the super awesome and bitchy nuns are singing "Maria" and she comes running in and then sees them and shrugs at her obvious and predictable clumsiness. But nothing compares to when she starts singing. Julie Andrews's singing voice is what I expect to hear when I enter the gates of Heaven (IF I got to Heaven, that is). I can't help but smile, and really smile big, whenever she sings. Her voice is one of the most beautiful things that can ever be.

5) The unbelievably sexy Christopher Plummer as Capt. Von Trapp- Good God! How did I not notice this? Christopher Plummer is still a very fine-looking old, old, old man, but he was so glorious in his youth. I am partial to men in uniform because well, they just look sexier, and I think Capt. Von Trapp may just become my favourite ever. The discipline, the hint of humour, the singing, that divine smile, and his pairing with Andrews...dazzling.

6) This shot- This film had beautiful quaint locations, and there was an incredible amount of wideshots, for example when Maria and the Captain dance the Laendler. But this one shot was just breath-taking. I love silhouettes, and as clichéd as it looks- the shadow and the kiss on the forehead, I think it's enchanting.

Things I didn't like so much about The Sound of Music:

1) The ending- It was so stupid. They just walked about the mountains and became mountain-folk or what? And even if they went to Switzerland, what the fuck happened there? Did the Captain finally sell out and made money from his children? The film is inspired by the real Von Trapp family, but the stories are still very different. One of the reasons I disliked the film as a kid was because of the dumb ending. I mean, how is it a happy ending? How can one be sure that the Nazis didn't get them still? With such a happy film, the ending should have been a clear cut one- not a vague one like this. It almost pisses me off as much as Gone With The Wind's ending (don't even get me started on that one).

2) The scene after the intermission- I don't understand why it annoyed me so much, but once the film resumes we see all of Salzburg again. We already saw it when the film started, with the scores of all the songs playing in the background, and then they do it all again after intermission. Why would one waste time like that? There are better ways of showing time lapse, I'm pretty sure.

3) The fact that EVERYONE can sing- Okay by rule of thumb, everyone in musicals can sing. But all of Austria could sing in this. And not in a happy way...but in that annoying harmonious high-pitched way. Maybe I'm just jealous, but seriously how can EVERYONE be so musically don't make no sense to me, I'm sorry.

4) The fact that Liesel is the world's weirdest teenager- Okay kids in films like this are generally annoying, but how on earth can a teenager be this sweet? No teenager likes to play with their SIX siblings all the time. And sing songs with them. She's a little bad-ass with the whole Rolfe thing, but still they spend their time singing and choreographing. Even Friedrich was super-fake.

5) Maria and the Captain suddenly falling in love- I do not understand how people just fall head-over-heels in love with each other overnight. Love at first sight is something else, but out of the blue both the leads realise that they are made for each other-that is shit! Especially when the Captain keeps chatting up the ravishing Baroness and Maria looks happy for them. I didn't personally think anything till the Captain sang "Edelweiss" and the super-alert Baroness gives that look. And boom- they're in love! It's ridiculous.

6) Rolfe- What a fool! The whole Brown Shirt thing has never gelled with me. Liesel was stunning, albeit unrealistic...screw Hitler! I just think he was an unnecessary added layer, to make the film look serious, when it obviously wasn't.

        On the whole, I think I have now warmed up to this sweet and sappy classic. I suddenly really love the songs, and man...Christopher Plummer *heart*. And Julie Andrews is just so contagious in it, how can one not fall in love with her? I think upto the wedding, the film is fine. If they had focused more on the courtship between Maria and the Captain, and not so much on the Nazi-issues, it would've been much better. And I guess the extraordinary number of shots of the scenery was to show what a pretty place Austria was before the war, but it's still a tad bit too much. And ugh, EVERYONE singing. But still nice.

        I'm sure everyone's seen it, but give it a go again if you were like me all this while.
Auf Wiedersehen for now.


  1. Great write up! *taking a note*: should include it into the nest weekend links collection. By the way, I love the introduction scene as well.

  2. I was one of those who grew up enamoured with this - when I was in my last year of primary school, our choir teacher decided that our thing for that year would be the Sound of Music. It wouldn't have been so bad except that she tried to get us to sing as high as Julie Andrews and the children - sound of cats being strangled, anyone?
    Julie Andrews = loveliness itself. And I adore Christopher Plummer too!

  3. @Lesya- Thank you so much! Yes the introduction scene is gorgeous, ain't it?

    @Ruth-'re one of 'them'. It's okay though, I was the weird one all this while. I like it now.
    Music teachers are like school did Alice in Wonderland this year. I didn't watch it but the ears of those who did bled real blood.
    Andrews and Plummer!!