The 38th Academy Awards (1966)
Like my first film I didn’t want to watch this one either. 174 minutes? Old timey people singing in Austria? Sounds like something I’d watch in school. Hmm, would that be for History class? Choir? In my Choir class we watched Drumline. It didn’t win any Oscars, though it did get two MTV Movie Award nominations (Breakthrough Male Performance and Best Kiss).
But I had to pay my respects. The Sound of Music was nominated for 10 Oscars. It won 5. Including Best Picture! All the songs are bangers. The performances are charming. You gotta love Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (RIP). Watching The Sound of Music was a commitment. Though I’m glad I finally opened my eyes and ears because this flick is dee-lightful. It even has an intermission that made the movie easy to break up into two viewings. One could say The Sound of Music was the Snyder Cut of its time.
Like my last review, I want to write this review by doing as little research as possible. But… I had to do a little and by a little I mean read a few lines from Wikipedia. As you probably already know, The Sound of Music is based on a 1959 Broadway Musical from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, which is based on a 1956 West German movie The Trapp Family, which is based on the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.
The story is about a young woman in the 1930s named Maria (Julie Andrews) struggling with her path to nunhood. Her sisters at the Abbey grow concerned of her lack of discipline, noted in their “How Do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?” song. Which is kind of fucked up. “This person is too full of life. She’s not serious enough to be a nun.” Can there not be fun nuns?
So Maria is sent to the villa of retired Naval Captain George von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) to act as the governess to his seven children. Europe is weird. There Maria clashes with the Captain’s strict “no nonsense” way of life but quickly wins over the children by giving them the love of song.
And let me tell ya, these songs are straight fire. Maria teaches the children to sing with that “Do a Deer” song, she sings them “My Favorite Things”, I didn’t even mention “I Have Confidence”, or the movie’s title song that Julie Andrews sings over a stunning vista of the alps (which was actually filmed in Bavaria).
It’s a little weird that these kids who barely knew about music before Maria become such a talented singing troupe so fast but I guess that’s just the power of Julie Andrews. She’s like a ray of sunshine in this movie. She even manages to breakthrough to the stern Captain Von Trapp and remind him of his love of music. A bond grows between the two but the Captain is already committed to the Baroness Elsa (Eleanor Parker). Maria struggles between her devotion to the church and the von Trapp’s but come on, we all know where it’s going.
This whole first half of the film (pre-intermission) is perfect. I honestly didn’t need much more after that but there’s a whole other half to this movie. The second half is mostly devoted to Maria (now married to the Captain) and the von Trapp family as they watch Austria being taken over by the Third Reich. Strongly opposed to the Nazis, the family devises an escape after performing at the Salzburg talent show. I don’t normally expect suspense to be in musicals but it added a nice bit of juice in the back half.
I don’t think the second half of the film is bad by any means it just pales in comparison to the tracklist and overall flow of the first half. That being said the film is always stunning from its cinematography to its costumes and production design. I’m sure Rodgers and Hammerstein get enough credit in their own circles so I don’t feel the need to shower them with any additional praise.
I get why The Sound of Music is a classic. It’s a film of ambition with arguably the best soundtrack of all time. I just can’t think of another Musical with so many songs I know and love. I mean, they’ve done multiple song parodies of The Sound of Music on Family Guy. If that isn’t the mark of success I don’t know what is.
Remember the time they parodied this on Family Guy?