The Sound of Music (1965)
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr
Directed by: Robert Wise
Released by: 20th Century Fox
Synopsis: Maria (Julie Andrews) is assigned to be the Von Trapp Family's new governess. Despite a rough start, her charms and unique views on life warms the heart of Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) and his children, learning that the greatest strength you have in life is the sound of music.
Review: Like Singin' in the Rain, The Sound of Music is a movie I regret missing for all these years. Starting this project gave me the opportunity of discovering these classics for the first time, and the experience has been great so far. The Sound of Music is simply marvelous and definitely one of the best musicals of all time.
This is achieved thanks to the incredible talents of Julie Andrews. Fresh off the success of Disney's Mary Poppins, Andrews has amazing presence and vocal range as Maria. Like in Mary Poppins, she has a lot of strength as a character, but is also warm and caring; bringing enough uniqueness to make Maria a memorable stage and screen character. Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp is also a commendable, starting as a curmudgeon character caused by the loss of his wife. He goes from a cold hearted man to a loving husband and father in a convincing manner, making his emotional journey one of the most fascinating elements of the story.
Of course, the Von Trapp children are very delightful and wonderfully keep up with Andrews. The music, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is fantastic. It's very rare for all the songs in a musical to be equally great, but Sound of Music manages to achieve that feat. The inspirational opening song "The Sound of Music", the quirky "Lonely Goatherd", and the wishful "16 going on 17" all add a lot of character development to the plot. Rarely do they feel like they were added for the sake of a musical number. The Sound of Music is also home to some of the best reprises in any musical, on stage and on in film. Reprises are meant to highlight a character's feelings based on a previous sung number, but at times can be seen as superfluous and redundant, as in "we couldn't come up with more songs, so we are recycling the ones from the first act". The film is able to avoid this obstacle with reprises that actually strengthen the themes of the storyline.
The storyline itself is very interesting. The Sound of Music is a period film, taking place just as the Nazi party has begun invading parts of Germany and Europe. These scenes are the grimmest in the storyline, with once friendly characters joining the enemy forces and tormenting the protagonists. This gives the movie a very inspirational feeling, a goal for the characters to achieve in the second to final act, and the music gains a much bigger significance. So not only is Sound of Music a great musical it's a fantastic inspirational story the strength of the human spirit during our darkest hours.
Finally, The Sound of Music is an excellently made film in terms of cinematography. The shots of the mountains are breathtaking and highly inspirational, and even the indoor shoots of the Von Trapp household dazzle in their design. It's a great advantage being a film musical: you leave the limitations of the stage in favor of a more organic and beautiful setting.
Long before The Sound of Music started its life as a stage musical, it was the autobiography of the real Maria Von Trapp. It narrates the story of how her family barely escaped the grasp the Nazi party had on Germany. Both the stage and film adaption of this story are very loose with the recreations of these events, making it a somewhat unreliable and romanticized take on the story. It's the only real flaw the film has faced for many years.
Even if it isn't the most accurate re-telling of the Von Trapp family it would be very foolish to ignore Sound of Music's power in film. With great talent, a solid story and fantastic music the movie is perfect for anyone looking to be inspired. Don't make the same mistake I did and watch this movie as soon as you can. You won't regret it.
Rating: 5 filmstrips out of 5
This review is dedicated to Alex Loret de Mola. Not only he is a big fan of the film, he once mentioned that if he given the opportunity of creating a time capsule in the event of the world coming to an end, he would include a copy of The Sound of Music due to its inspirational story and how it beautifully conveys the human emotions through song. It's a very powerful statement to make about the film, and proof that films can inspire us in unexpected ways.