Thursday, December 13, 2012

Erin Korth: Why I Love THE SOUND OF MUSIC

In celebration of our enormously popular annual The Sound of Music Sing-along on Tuesday, December 18, BMFI Intern Erin Korth shares why she loves this "utterly irresistable" classic. Check back for more posts from BMFI staff and community members that discuss the films we love.

Why I Love The Sound of Music
By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern
I joined the musical appreciation club a bit late in my movie-watching career. For years my parents were haunted by the sounds of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on permanent repeat, and while I did enjoy the occasional musical film outside the animated genre, if it didn't involve a dancing candlestick, I generally wasn't interested. That's since changed.

There is something about the musical genre that gives it an aura of timelessness. Watching the luminous Julie Andrews charm her way into the hearts of the von Trapp clan, even for the first time, feels like sinking into a warm and well-worn armchair, and while my first time watching The Sound of Music was just a few years ago, I think on it with the fondness of having loved it all my life. 

Julie Andrews fills the hills with "the sound of music" in the 1965 film.
But what is it, exactly, that makes this film so utterly irresistible? 

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer
Is there anything more toe-curling than watching the steely-eyed Captain von Trapp fall for that indecently optimistic Maria? He’s miserable and wry and she makes clothes out of his curtains, and by the middle of the film I’m head-over-heels for the love story I never even saw coming (because she is a nun, after all). The snappy duo share screen time and hero credentials with an almost draconian evenness. Christopher Plummer sulks in the background as Andrews melts the hearts of Austria with her guitar and her inability to take orders from anybody, and after the wedding (the film’s figurative and literal midpoint), Plummer plays with all the good humor and coifed hair of a proper Disney prince, defeating the Nazis, and even crooning a tearful goodbye to his beloved Austria in the process. Plummer likened working with Julie Andrews to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day Card, every day.” I can only say that watching the couple spring across screen with all of their smiles, scowls, and songs has much the same effect.

Maria and Captain von Trapp share a moment while dancing the ländler.
Triumph against the odds
Let’s face it; despite the flowers and frolicking on the movie poster, this film is pretty dark. There's Maria, who wants so badly to be a nun, but just can’t find the self-discipline. The young von Trapp family is subject to the misguided parenting of the grieving, widowed Captain who doesn’t know how to relate to his children. Lurking behind the beautiful scenery and iconic songs is the ever-present Nazi party, with their very clear message for the von Trapps: join or die. Yet even the impending danger does not detract from the just-plain-happiness that underlines this wonderful story. Maria and the von Trapps find joy in music and each other, and in the end, defeat the bad guys with a song and a morning hike over the Swiss Alps. It doesn’t get much more uplifting than that.

Spoiler alert: the von Trapps have a happy ending.
The sound of all that music
Even before I saw the film, bought the soundtrack, and noted it on my top ten list of favorite movies, I knew at least three Sound of Music songs by heart. This wasn't due to my love of show tunes, but simply by merit of having been a child at one point in my life. Much like that theme of familial happiness that overshadows even the threat of Nazism, each song in The Sound of Music has such joie de vivre that they have no trouble becoming instant and often-sung classics. Whether it be learning the notes of a scale, braving a thunderstorm, or lamenting with Liesl about all of the things I still don’t understand, each time I watch this film I fall in love completely and all over again with the joyful, achingly catchy music, “whether or not I should”.

The family "do-re-mi"s their worries away.
Are you a Sound of Music fan? What are some of your favorite musicals?

Get your toes tapping with Maria and the von Trapps at BMFI’s two sing-along showings of The Sound of Music on Tuesday, December 18 at 7:00 pm and 7:15 pm. Free popcorn if you wear a costume!

Erin Korth is currently an intern at BMFI and a thesis-writing senior at Bryn Mawr College, studying English and Film Studies. Along with The Sound of Music, some of her favorite films include It's a Wonderful Life, The Sting, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Bringing Up Baby, Titus, and The Hurt Locker.

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