Monday, 20 August 2012

Randomness: Captain Von Trapp and Maria

The Sound of Music was on this weekend, and I had to look at a few minutes an hour and a half of it, even though I know almost all the dialogue from it. But, what's wrong with watching the hills come alive?

I feel like we don't talk about The Sound of Music enough. And, when I say we I don't refer to the many faces of Andrew but the collective film blogosphere. Its place in pop culture history is assured, as its place in Oscar history (the second musical Robert Wise directed to a best picture win). The film itself is just below three hours long and navigates through so many topics (religion! nuns! dead wife! governesses! war! Nazis!) I often forget one of the major elements of the film - the romance between the Captain and Maria. It's not especially my least favourite arc of the film, but I do end up feeling somewhat badly for the regal Baraness Schraeder (Eleanor Parker is lovely).

I remember when I was younger and it was on repeat every other week in my house the marriage aspect almost always seemed to sneak up on me. Rewatching pieces of it this weekend, though, the cues are all there pointing to the inevitable romance. The story is not quite ahead of its time, but it examines a theme more prominent in post 90s romance - the confluence of the romantic leads depending on one of the two's ability to charm the children of the other. And, in a way, it sort of makes be doubt the authenticity of the romance...until that "Something Good" number which does surprise with how tenderly romantic it unfolds* but works so well in selling the "love" the two come to feel. It was the penultimate film shot by cinematographer Ted D. McCord (The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Johnny Belinda) and that scene works as much because of the music and performances as it does for the photography.

Isn't that just a beautiful shot? I can't remember where I was reading it, but someone mentioned that "realistic" musicals are tough to pull of, and they are in truth. There's no dreamscape for the cinematography to take advantage of. But there are faint nods to something obtrusively magical here, and the conceit works well for this scene.

* And, look, I know that Wise gets his major musical accolades for the phenomenal staging of the musical numbers in West Side Story (admittedly, the fuller story and better film) but his work in The Sound of Music is nothing to ignore either. This is so much more of a book musical than West Side Story and he manages to work monologue numbers pop ("I Have Confidence" is just a marvel) and the joyful silliness of the "My Favourite Things" number is on point. The only number that's difficult to make expressly cinematic is "Climb Every Mountain" and, really, I don't have it in me to argue against Peggy Wood.

(Also, maybe I want you folks to talk about The Sound of Music more because I really want to bring back yodelling. Maybe.)


Theresa said...

This is a wonderful post about a wonderful film. I am in-love with this movie, always have been.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

theresa thanks for visiting. it is a lovely movie, and definitely worthy of love.

ruth said...

I agree we don't talk about this movie enough. I will always love it as it's one of the first English-language film I saw that made a real impression on me. Seeing it again years later I still enjoy it and the songs are absolutely wonderful, even the underrated ones like "I Have Confidence" is like you said, a marvel. I also enjoy the duets of Maria and Liesl, that actress is incredibly beautiful, I wonder what happened to her now. Thanks for highlighting this, Andrew!