Friday, October 29, 2010

1965: The Sound of Music

Maria wants to be a nun, but she keeps getting into trouble at the abbey, so the Reverend Mother sends her to become a governess for Captain Von Trapp's seven children.  After the children play some tricks on her, Maria manages to gain their respect and love by teaching them to sing.  Even their stern father softens when he hears his children singing Maria's songs.  But this is Austria at the end of the 1930s, and when the Germans take over, Captain Von Trapp is expected to join the Nazis, something he will not allow himself to do.

I know there are some people who don't like this movie, but I can't understand why.  Despite a few semi-cheesy lines (and the fact that it's three hours long), I love this film.  The songs are fun and beautiful, not to mention deeply ingrained in our culture (does anyone not know the Do-Re-Mi song?); clearly Rodgers and Hammerstein at their best.  The character development is superb: one would think seven children would be easy to get mixed up, but each has his or her own distinct personality.  Then there's the incredible chemistry between Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer as their characters find themselves unintentionally falling for each other, and the beautiful framing of every shot.  All this combines with a powerful, moving and uplifting story to make a positively inspiring and entertaining film.

The beginning of this film gives me chills.  It starts with aerial shots of gorgeous green hills, while the sound of wind blowing is heard.  The picturesque aerial shots continue as birds begin chirping, and music gradually fades in.  There are some shots of quaint houses and buildings before we return to the hills, and one particular hill, on which Julie Andrews is walking.  The music swells, she twirls around and sings, "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"  I believe that this is the closest any film has ever gotten to capturing pure joy.

I may be biased in favor of this movie because I love Julie Andrews so much, but she's definitely not the only reason I like this film.  I'm also very glad that The Sound of Music won Best Picture because it further proves that a film doesn't have to be extremely depressing to be deep or Oscar-worthy.

Coming up next: A Man for All Seasons

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