There it is. Surely one of the most famous and beloved movies of all time – well, in some countries. It seems that in America, every child grows up while watching Maria and the van Trapp children singing their way through Salzburg. Overall, The Sound of Music is probably not just an ordinary movie but rather a true phenomenon. On the imdb-forums (I don’t post there but they are always good for a healthy laugh) people treat it as some kind of religious revelation, going so far that people who dislike it can’t have a soul…
Well, maybe I am a little party-pooper, but the sugar-coated, overly-wholesome The Sound of Music simply isn’t my kind of movie. But: I warmed up to it quite a bit. When I saw it the first time, it wasn’t really to see it for its own sake – instead, I wanted to find out what all Americans were so obsessed with. And initially, I placed it at the end of this ranking, but it managed to climb up some positions because, even though it’s not my kind of movie, I don’t want to deny that it succeeds in being what it wants to be – good, old-fashioned entertainment.
I have already mentioned Christopher Plummer, but, of course, The Sound of Music completely depends on Julie Andrews who gives probably her most famous, but also her best performance as the singing nanny Maria. Her spirit, her seriousness in a silly part, her voice, her ability to brighten up the screen, fit perfectly to the role and she obviously works very hard to make the movie work. But I have to admit that my personal favourite is probably Eleanor Parker as the Baroness – maybe because I can understand her so well when she wants to send the children to a boarding school. In a weak year like 1965, she could have easily taken a nomination for Supporting Actress (which was wasted on Peggy Wood who, to be honest, did nothing in The Sound of Music – not even singing). In my review for Going my Way, I have already mentioned my aversion to ‘annoying movie children’ – well, The Sound of Music offers plenty of them. Personally, I can’t relate to those kids who are supposed to be such little brats but start crying at the dinner table and even themselves offer their reason for their misbehaviour – how else would they get their father’s attention?
The plot in The Sound of Music constantly changes from implausible to officious to acceptable. The first part of the movie which focuses on Maria, the Captain and the family, has some nice moments and is almost loveable in its innocence but it’s hard for such a family-oriented and sweet-natured movie to include such a serious topic as the rise of Nazism and the whole combination of wannabe-thriller, sentimental drama and over-the-top comedy that follows doesn’t really rise to the occasion. (And I know that every movies has a lot of mistakes and I won’t hold my following complaint against The Sound of Music, but I still want to say how much the ending annoys me when the family escapes to Switzerland by crossing the Alps – the boarder to Switzerland is probably 200 miles west of Salzburg. The only country they reach by crossing the Alps is Germany and I am not sure that they want to end up there…)
Well, as I said, it’s not my kind of movie but I don’t want to deny that it does feature some entertaining performances, offers some nice songs and knows how to portray a sweet and innocent story without becoming too saccharine. It is captivating in parts and provides some wonderful entertainment but I am not sure I would consider it Oscar-worthy.