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Posted by on Mar 15, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment | 4 comments

Family and The Sound of Music


I write a lot about my late father and that’s because a lot of my tastes, not only in film, but music and television shows stem from him. My father had an eclectic cultural pallet; my earliest happy memory is of him playing me Bob Marley’s Stir it Up – but I also remember him constantly playing Kenny Rodgers.

But my mother has influenced on my love of film. I can only think of one film that my mum cares about and that’s the focus of this post – The Sound of Music.

If there was one thing you could depend on at Christmas is the fact that The Sound of Music would be on the telly. Our whole family would be gathered around the TV to watch the musical whether I liked it or not. I protested, but looking back now, once the hills appeared on the screen, I didn’t complain much.

You could depend on The Sound of Music being on at Christmas until you couldn’t depend on it anymore. And after noticing that we hadn’t watched it for a couple of years, I decided to buy it for my mum on DVD for Christmas.

We might be down a member in our family, but I make sure that during the Christmas period I sit down with my mum and watch a film that feels like part our family.

It’s stupid doing a summary of The Sound of Music, but here is one anyway. It’s about a young misbehaving nun, who is sent to a large estate house of a military commander to look after his 22 (it could be 12, or 7) children. Chaos and hilarity ensues.

I don’t want to get bogged down into a serious deconstruction of The Sound of Music, but I would just say there are some deep things bubbling underneath the surface of this film. As I discovered in my days as a drama student, a lot of these musicals in the 50s and 60s (stage or films) have some sort of social commentary laced within their make up.

Watching this film with older eyes, I realised that I missed the compelling way they told the story of the Nazi invasion of Austria. It’s actually pretty sinister and unnerving the way the subject matter creeps into the film. It’s still damn right heartbreaking to see how various characters deal with Nazism.

What makes this film special though, to my mind, is the unadulterated joy present throughout it. Every shot, every set piece and every song feels masterly and just makes you smile. You appreciate it throughout the years because you know that the film makers gave a damn about this film.

To this day, the landscape shots are utterly awe-inspiring. Jaw droppingly so.

But yes, it’s the music that has made this film what it is – and I love it. This is coming from a Dr Dre fan. This statement does nothing for my name in the streets.

Importantly, for me, the music doesn’t feel out of place among the dialogue. It’s not telegraphed (if you know what I mean) and that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t like many musicals.

Who I’m I kidding, I love musicals.

Again, there is joy in the music which many stage shows and movies find hard to recreate. If the first tune doesn’t get you, it’s highly likely that many of the others within the film will. My personal favourite is Edelweiss– it’s hauntingly beautiful (I’m still gangster, don’t get it twisted).

I’m thankful to this film and the memories it has provided me. There’s a little bit of sadness now when I watch this film with my ma. But we still smile, still laugh and still sing along to the all too familiar scenes.

I can’t wait to introduce this film to my little girl.

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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • roro80

    What a lovely story, CTB. Kind of made me tear up a bit, because my Grandma had a similar tradition at Christmas and Thanksgiving (we’d see that side of the family for one of the two holidays each year). Unfortunately we haven’t kept it up — maybe I should go get a copy and bring it back.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    go Roro, it will be worth it to make this memory again each year

    thanks CTB, too. The ‘creep’ of Nazism, was at first, so banal, it is true, from those of my family who were caught in the subsequent war. It was AT FIRST, just a ‘belief’ about bringing Germany back to financial and status power. A political belief, like we have here, democrats, republicans, tea party, etc. But then it tipped into horror and mayhem with Sudetenland and Poland and before, ‘the night of shattering glass’… hitler’s payback for a young man who killed, to avenge his parents, a favored emissary of Hitler.

    The Sound of Music, as far as I can tell, has the theme of how even the aristocracy were not spared, and the absence of Pope pious X11 is noteable in this very catholic film about how many different kinds of love prevailed or did not. When it first came out, the Vatican was not happy for the nun-postulant leaves the convent for the venal life. An attack to the Faith, it was told to us young ones back then. Not sure anyone knew if the nun portrayed was catholic or lutheran or episcopalian or or or. Back then, ‘the Church’ was stentorian about keeping the Index, a long long list of films and books catholics were forbidden to read. It seems quaint now perhaps, but back then, it ws considered a mortal sin to read /see what Pope had decided to shut away from millions and millions of catholics.

    Betrayal, just my two cents worth, is the theme of SofM, and for some, redemption. The midnight trek over the Alps… in reality, many did not make it, and were they Jews and headed for Switzerland, they were often turned back. It was a ferociously malicious wind that blew many many down morally, spiritually and physically.

    And yet, this tiny slice of life of a family, given Maria von Trapp’s subsequent books and so on, is perhaps the most that could be said at that time, given so many of the producers and financiers of the film were Jewish. There is much to contemplate. Thanks for bringing it.

  • Chocolate TeddyBear

    Dr, fascinating history that I had absolutely no idea of

  • I need to add that when I was i the Amity Theater Music Workshop in high school (before CTB was born) I played “Uncle Max” and of course we did the stage version, where Uncle Max had two songs cut from the movie. I went to see the movie with my mother, who was then in her 40s, and we both loved it. So I know he movie and stage play QUITE well. (I’m now reading Hitlerland by the way which is about the view of Americans in Nazi Germany as Hitler took over)

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