Sound Of Music, The (1965) * Favourite Review *

 

Maria's joy is like Holy Water poured upon the Anti-Christ
Maria's joy is like Holy Water poured upon the Anti-Christ

Genre: Musical

Starring: Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins • Torn Curtain), Christopher Plummer (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country • Starcrash)

Directed By: Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood StillWest Side Story)

Overview: When a nun becomes governess to the seven children of an Austrian naval officer, rather than harsh discipline and strict order, she brings them childhood and song, much to their father's dismay.

"What's the matter with all you gloomy pussies?!" - Max Detweiler
Certainly NOT one of my favourite things
Certainly NOT one of my favourite things

Thrice, I've popped this film into the good old DVD player, but this was my first viewing of The Sound Of Music. The first time, I recall being impressed at the sweeping landscape of snow-capped mountains and lush green valleys. Then, after some credits and intro music, there stood Julie Andrews in all her arm-spread-wide glory, shouting, instantly, "Thaaaaaaa HIIIIIIILLS are ALIIIIIIIVE". As unprepared as a soldier suddenly shoved onto Omaha beach, I froze, I retched, and instinct led me blind to the thankfully close Stop button, thus ending my assault from all sides. The second time, years later, I was trained in the cold calculating study of not-so-pleasant film, I was ready, I was bolstered... I was drunk. After some credits and sweeping landscapes, there stood Julie Andrews in all her spread-armed splendor, shouting, instantly, "THAAAAAAAA HIIIIIIILLS ARE ALIIIIIIIVE", this time in resonating 5.1 surround sound. I shrieked, I scrambled for the remote. I managed to hit that big beautiful red Stop button before the vomit welling in my throat made it onto my shirt. Then there was this viewing, the third, the successful one... a Christmas season sacrifice for the venerable 1001 Movies That May Cause Your Untimely Death Club.
 Holy flying Christ on a pickled stick do I ever hate Musicals.
Holy flying Christ on a pickled stick do I ever hate Musicals.

For the three of you who don't know the story, it's late 1930s Austria, there's an abbey full of nuns, a naval captain widower with a pile of kids, and epic landscapes as vast as the North Sea. On the nun side, they find one of their devotees to be just a little too much the wrong kind of free-wheeling pious for their awesomely-architectured home. On the secular side, the widower is at his wit's end, having lost several governesses to the unruly children that are his brood. Two birds and one stone later, Maria the free-spirited nun takes charge of Captain Von Trapp's bucket of babies while he goes off on one of his numerous trips, this time with the intention of returning with the Baroness he intends to marry. Trouble ensues when he returns to a home full of laughter and music as opposed to the stern discipline he insisted upon. From here, the question is "how will Maria get Georg when she plans on marrying that big bearded guy in the sky, and Georg plans on marrying the Baroness?"
 
Let's talk about the songs. Never having seen this before I was shocked at how socially pervasive so many of them were. Nearly every time a new song started, I had already heard it somewhere before. I won't say it gave me the warmth of nostalgia, but at least I gained a huge chunk of societal context. Aside from their mere presence, what disappointed me most about them was that of the sixteen credited songs in The Sound of Music, at least six of them are recycled / repeated / reused at least once. Those are "The Sound of Music", the admittedly catchy "Do-Re-Mi", the amazingly-warped-by-Bjork-in-Dancer-In-The-Dark "My Favorite Things", the absolutely painful "Sixteen Going on Seventeen", "Edelweiss", and the eyeroll-inducing "So Long, Farewell". In the case of "Do-Re-Mi", I believe it lived a full four different iterations before those final credits - you'll forgive me if I don't recall the exact number as my mind is purging this experience, as one's psychological defenses do when dealing with a trauma.
ouuuuchI will admit that "The Lonely Goatherd" in all its crazy Yoddle Ey Hee Hoo-ness was a pleasing moment of respite. Watching this song, which was presented on the screen as a puppet show with elaborate marionettes, made me feel like I was doing something other than suffering through a THREE-HOUR MUSICAL. However it could not last,  and half-way through The Sound of Music, I stopped and cried out, "Hey! Where are the Nazis?!" I posit to you, dear reader, how bad is your life when you are begging for SS Nazis to put you out of your misery?! That is where I was, in my lowest point, in a pool of my own despair (not to mention waste).

Now you may think I'm laying it on extra-thick for drama's sake and you'd be right, but nonetheless, though there are genuinely tense moments, real dramatic scenes, and even a song I sort of kinda liked somewhere, The Sound of Music includes 'I'm embarrassed FOR you moments' like choreography in fruit picking, the quote at the top of this post, the awkward introduction with those children marching like ugly penguins, and an overall air of just so much ball-twisting... HAPPINESS, hip-deep in a heavy-petting grade lust of the medium that is the showiest of Broadway and all its pomp and circumstance... or so I imagine it would be like because I won't do that either.

 

When The Sound Of Music ended, I had only half-chewed through my insisted-upon bonds that prevented me from turning it off, but amidst all this written rage, I will admit something: If some cave-dweller approached me saying "I've been living in a cave! I would like to learn about different genres of film to decide if I like them or not. Show me a musical." I would show that freakish monster The Sound of Music, because it's the Goddamndest musically Musical that I've ever dreamt of in my most horrifying nightmares. In fact, I could never imagine even a mildly lukewarm fan of the genre hating this, since it's the purest distillation of a Musical that I've ever seen. I'd go so far as to call it The Grand Champion of Musicals. 
The Sound of Music is not so bad. At least it's in line with the Geneva convention rules of torture.
The Sound of Music
is not so bad. At least it's in line with the Geneva convention rules of torture.

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 9 Script: 5 Plot: 7 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 74% (Please Just Do-Re-Mi To The Madhouse)
Aftertaste:

Let me honestly sum up what was wrong with The Sound Of Music for me, to quote that best-line-spouting mooch, Max Detweiler:

"It's not too sweet, it's not too sour, it's just too... pink."

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Despite the fact that this tips my hand of the review I'll likely be writing in a couple of days, The Sound of Music and Das Boot are the only two films I can think of that make me root for the Nazis.

 

Sorry, but kids traipsing around Nazi Austria singing about deer and sunshine just ain't right.


Yeah, Sound of Music is a really nice film, and that one is likely to remember for a long time - if not for anything else, at least for the memorable songs. Great review there!


Okay, this review was equally hilarious and baffling. I absolutely loved reading it, but I have to bring this up--you gave this film a 7 out of 10 but it sounds like you hated it. Can you elaborate on your scoring?


The cinematography was absolutely astounding. The mood was also perfect, perfectly a mood I hated, but completely one that put me there, in the genre, in the theme, in the moment. When scoring, I always try to be at least a LITTLE unbiased, and that was my admitting how perfect a film it was for most, though not myself.


I'm sad for you, Squish... well...for anyone who doesn't care for musicals. But it was still a fun review to read. TSOM hits me squarely on my nostalgia nerve - so I can't agree in the slightest - but I respect your opinion. :)


Haha! What a fun review! I like how you plainly demonstrate your loathing of the genre yet still conclude with a fair rating. Well done!

Of all genres, I think musicals could safely be at the top when it comes to love-em-or-hate-em. And I think I would also select TSOM for the cave dweller. It is the McDonald's of musicals.


hahaha "the McDonald's of musicals." - well done :D


This may have been the first movie I ever saw in a theatre. I cried when I found out that Lisle was at least 60 in real life and I couldn't marry her. To all you kids out there, that's why you should never watch movies that are more than 4 months old! Life is so cruel.

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