Monday, June 7, 2010

Musical Mondays: The Sound of Music

There is no musical that is more family friendly than The Sound of Music.  This also means that the more times you watch it, as you age, you'll get more out of it.  As another disc in my Rodgers and Hammerstein collection that I've never unwrapped (because it's always on TV at least once a year, and usually more), I figured it was time to pay attention to it for a bit.  And since I had a ton of work to get done today, and this has a running time of just under 3 hours, The Sound of Music was a terrific option.  It is Rodgers and Hammerstein's final collaboration, as Hammerstein passed away soon after the Broadway premiere.  Then it was brought to the screen in 1965 after 1,443 performances on Broadway, with Mary Martin as Maria, though Julie Andrews played her in the movie.  However, Andrews won the Oscar the year before for Mary Poppins and was a much more popular choice for The Sound of Music, for which she was also nominated, but lost to Julie Christie for Darling.  It tells the story of Maria, a woman studying to be a nun, who becomes a governess for the Von Trapp family, around 1938.  She helps Captain Von Trapp recover from the loss of his wife, and relate to his 7 children again, mostly through music.  They fall in love and marry, and the whole family flees Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Germany, rather than serve the Nazis.  They settled in Vermont, and I've actually been to the Von Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe, VT. 

The music in The Sound of Music is really what brings it together.  A few songs from the Broadway show were cut and a few were added, and I definitely prefer the movie versions.  The songs removed were fairly gimmicky songs that didn't help the story.  "Do-Re-Mi", "The Sound of Music" (which I remember as "The Hills Are Alive"), "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and of course as tune turned into a popular Christmas song, "My Favorite Things".  Everyone who sings has a gorgeous voice and does a terrific job.  "Climb Every Mountain" by the Mother Superior is amazing every single time.  Only "Edelweiss" is sung sitting in place.  All the other songs have a lot of theatricality, but they took advantage of being a film, and many of the songs roam around the city, countryside and mountains.  This is something no stage version I've ever seen has come close to living up to.  The film went above and beyond any constraints and took advantage of the beautiful landscape and then the cinematographer used it perfectly.  The opening scene when a helicopter brings the camera from really far away onto Julia Andrews' face has been copied in many different ways and places. 
Definitely one of the best musicals ever brought to film. 

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