Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. 1965.
Viewed: Friday, March 1st
Who hadn’t seen it: Brad
This is the one that got us started. How could it be that anyone over 25 hasn’t seen this film? Even by accident? The missed cultural references alone would have been worth spending the three hours years ago. In case you’re one of the seven US citizens that hasn’t seen this, let’s do a rundown.
Maria (Julie Andrews) is a high-spirited nun-in-training who’s called to serve as a governess for the children of a widowed former Austrian war hero. The incorrigible seven children grow to love Maria as she wins them over with music and kindness, and then the strict Captain von Trapp (Christopher) falls for her as well. There is also a subplot about the looming war and the Nazi pressure for the Captain to report to active duty for Germany.
Brad: The embarrassing thing is not that I hadn’t seen The Sound of Music before (musicals we not part of my upbringing), the embarrassing thing is that it took Seth MacFarlane’s hacky bit at the recent Oscars to spark my interest to finally get off my duff and see this classic (and subsequently to start this project. Please don’t abandon us just yet). As the joke proceeding Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer’s introduction fell flat, I turned to Monica and said, “Let me guess, that’s how The Sound of Music ends, right?” Like a lot of people from our over-programmed generation, I get most of the pop culture references I get without a having any real experience of the item being referenced. I’m a bit of an oaf, but with great context clue comprehension. Let’s change this. I not only want to get the reference, I want to know that I get it. Kind of like the pop culture version of showing your work with an algebraic problem.
Monica: This is true – and to be fair, I think we’re both guilty of this. Maybe most people are? As someone who wants to be super well read and have experienced most of the great works of art, but understands there are just realistic time constraints that make this impossible – I am terrified of being caught with my proverbial pants down. Which is why you learn to absorb the context clues and forgetting that you never had the original experience to begin with.
Brad: So we sat down to watch The Sound of Music, with our 3 year-old daughter. My expectation was that this would a beautifully shot musical with a shitload of classic songs. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. The film is gorgeous and I spent most of the night turning to The Wife saying, “Oh, this song is from this?” Yes, the film takes all night to watch and all the songs are in it. All of them. Even the ones from The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story (they must have added them for the Blu-Ray edition).
Monica: I watched this a few times growing up, and I have a real soft spot for it. Also important is that this was Richard Douglass’, (a brilliant film buff, librarian, video store manager, mentor, and all around terrific human being from our formative years) favorite film. Brad told me I should have led with that years ago, so I don’t want to neglect to mention it here.
Brad: Julie Andrews is a delight as the governess Maria. Great voice and cute as a button. I’ve decided if I’m ever widowed, I’m gonna try and get me a nun to take care of my offspring. Considering that I’m not Catholic, not secretly musical, have only one child, and I’m not dealing with the threat of Nazis, I probably won’t be able to get a young nubile pre-nun type nun to act as my child’s governess. I’d be lucky to get a Sister Wendy type of nun maybe, which would still be pretty dope, cause Sister Wendy is pretty awesome.
Monica: Agreed. You would be lucky to have a Sister Wendy on your hands.
Brad: I know Christopher Plummer is a handsome man, but he’s a dreamboat in this one. Why hadn’t I been warned about this? He looks like Michael Fassbender in this film (dream casting the modern re-make, sorry). I knew it was common for the ladies to fall in love with Captain von Trapp while watching this film, but this is just plain ridiculous. He’s too handsome. His eyes were piercing my soul. Stop making me fall in love with you Captain von Trapp! Maria didn’t stand a chance and neither will you!
Monica: One of the funny things about watching this is that I don’t recall having harbored a Captain von Trapp crush as a youngling. This is extra unbelievable when you consider he is totally made in that Mr. Darcy mold that ladies usually find so irresistible. I will also now concede to his dreaminess, but this was never a part of the original appeal for me.
Couple of quick notes-
- I couldn’t keep thoughts of Ewan MacGregor singing “The hills are alive with the Sound of Music” out of my head throughout the film. Thanks a lot Moulin Rouge.
- I always thought the youngest von Trapp was played by a young Kurt Russell. Don’t know why. Urban legend maybe. I spent the first third of the film picturing baby Russell the Love Muscle as Kurt von Trapp. I eventually had to look it up. Newsflash: Kurt Russell was a child actor. He was NOT in The Sound of Music. That kid was the weakest link of the von Trapp kids. Maybe they should have gotten Russell. The kids name is Kurt dammit. It’s an obvious casting in hindsight.
- I had never really noticed just how front loaded this musical is with all of the big musical numbers. Pretty much anything after the intermission is a reprise and the tone after the wedding never feels totally natural.
- I love the clothes. We spent so much time talking about how Maria’s burlap-derived ugly dresses are really adorable. Also watching this in blu ray was spectacular. Everything looked impossibly gorgeous, and it was clear how adept Wise’s direction is, particularly in that first half. Everything about this film is a confection.
Brad: As a programming note: We watched the film with our 3 year-old up to the wedding. We’re not ready to deal with Nazis just yet in the Brooks-Harris household. I think we might want to wait until grammar school before introducing the greatest evil of of the twentieth century. Total parent wuss out!
I have to say I thought with was a brilliant musical. It’s a perfect example of why Hollywood and audiences won’t give up on the genre. And why every few years we feel lucky that it hasn’t died, even if it happens to only be Dreamgirls or Rock of Ages (I haven’t seen either – insert winking emoticon). I am already looking forward to my next viewing of this film in a couple of years with my then first grade aged daughter.