I’ve been meaning to write this article for a few weeks now. This year is the 50th anniversary of the film The Sound of Music, and I am thrilled that the movie has been recognized a lot recently, from articles in magazines to Lady Gaga’s medley performance at this year’s Oscars. It deserves it. It has touched so many people. I have been told many times by friends that this is their or one of their family member’s favorite musical. Although I can’t say I have a favorite musical, it is in my top three for sure. Those who know me well know how much this movie means to me.
When I was abroad, one of the first trips I booked was to Austria, a place I have wanted to visit for years. I could say that’s because I have distant Germanic blood, but really I believe my fascination with the country stems from this movie. I booked a trip with a student travel company with my dear friend from abroad who also loves the movie.
I spent my Thanksgiving in Vienna eating sachertorte. The next day, we drove to Salzburg and I watched the movie for the umpteenth time and cried the whole way (I don’t often cry during movies, but this is one result of being too damn sentimental). In Salzburg, I went on the Sound of Music bus tour (I’m not one for bus tours, but this came recommended and was too cute to pass up).
When the bus stopped in the Lake District near the city, we had one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. Every tiny alpine building on hills as far as I could see was covered in snow. Then I ate the best wiener schnitzel I have ever had at a Christmas market outside the church where they filmed Maria and Captain von Trapp’s wedding. It was one of the greatest trips I ever took.
From now, I will refer to it as a movie because I have never seen the stage version live. However, I would go as far as saying it is probably the only film version of a musical that I would prefer over the stage version, now and forever.
One of the greatest things about the film is that it has an epic story, based on reality, that is important in our recent history. It also has some of the best music in any musical. My favorite was always “The Lonely Goatherd,” but now it’s “Edelweiss” for its simplicity and message. I love watching the movie with people who haven’t seen it before, just to see their reactions, to see them realize that the famous song that they have heard millions of times came from this film (this mostly comes from the “My Favorite Things” scene).
I started watching it at a very young age with my parents who also love the movie. It was one of those films that I would watch every day for a period of time until I would occasionally change it up with The Lion King and old tapes of Fraggle Rock.
I mostly love it because every time I watch it, I see the story in a different way. I learn something new about the characters, about their decisions. When I was three, I only really understood the happy parts. When I grew older, I understood the conflicts. When I learned about World War II in school, it made sense once more. Even watching it on the drive to Salzburg, I saw the struggle that Captain von Trapp had when he stood his ground against the Nazi regime in order to save the country he loved.
I saw courage in Maria that I hadn’t seen before. Maria, by the way, is one of the best protagonists to look up to when you are young (and Julie seems like one of the loveliest actresses of her generation). I sometimes ask myself, “What Would Maria von Trapp Do?” as I sing “I Have Confidence” in the shower. She is one of the major reasons why I love the story. If you look at the lyrics to “I Believe” from The Book of Mormon, they are practically the same. It is the quintessential Broadway musical, an example for all.
According to a recent article in Vanity Fair, Christopher Plummer was famously not enthused about playing the Captain, which I had heard before, and the movie got horrible reviews when it came out, which was news to me. It’s hard to think that such an iconic movie, with the fabulous Julie Andrews running on the cover, opening her arms wide to embrace the sound of music from the hills, could ever have been considered anything but a treasure.