July 2006

 

The Sound of Music
MFTJuly06-1The Sound of Music is the first movie I remember going to the pictures (that word alone should date this particular reminiscence!) to see. I was enchanted by the whole experience although I now suspect most of the plot went totally over my youthful head. I was four going on five, and Nazis and religious vocations, what did I know of those? To paraphrase the song in the summerhouse scene.

According to family mythology, although I don’t recall this at all, I refused to leave the cinema when it was over. Maria was still behind the curtains just waiting to take me back to that wonderful world of music and color.

Those breathtaking shots during the credits of Austria from the air still give me goose bumps. Coming from Australia, I’d never seen anything so green and gorgeous as those hills and valleys or as old and interesting as all those castles they fly over. Not to mention the snow. Snow was cool in every sense of the word to a girl from subtropical Queensland.

The nuns seemed so glamorous too. Looking back, I’m not quite sure why. I was brought up in a very Protestant household, so perhaps it was the lure of the unknown. Nuns played a regular role in my dressing up for quite a while afterwards.

But the best part of The Sound of Music is the romance. I’m not sure if this was clear to me on the first viewing but it’s sure clear to me now. Even after seeing the film more times than I care to count, I still get a giggle out of Maria’s spirited responses to the remote Captain von Trapp’s tyrannical ways. I even stole the line about not answering to a whistle like a dog or cat for The Magnificent Marriage. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Of course, we know he’s not really tyrannical, just grieving and out of touch with his heart. This is in many ways a redemption through love story. It’s so beautiful the way the film charts his emotional growth and follows Maria’s awakening to the possibility that human love can be as precious as divine love.

Favorite scenes? I’m spoilt for choice. The Captain catching the new governess in a daydreaming moment in the disused ballroom, symbolic of so many things that are locked away in this unhappy house. Maria facing him so bravely in a dress not even the poor want. The dinner scene when she sits on the pine cone. My Favorite Things (obviously!). The children climbing trees wearing clothes made from old curtains just as their father drives home with the baroness he’s so certain is the woman for him but we know for certain isn’t. And best of all, the lovely tenderness and quivering sexual awareness when they dance the landler outside the crowded ballroom. Sigh. Now that’s romance!