Music Music Music! Marathon: The Sound Of Music (1965)

My wife’s go to “I feel sad,” movie, and thus I approach this review with trepidation!

Screenplay By: Ernest Lehman
Directed By: Robert Wise

There’s a great movie somewhere in The Sound Of Music. That great movie is lost in the disconnect from the type of movie The Sound Of Music wants to be and the type of movie The Sound Of Music ends up being. Robert Wise, as well as the people behind the original screenplay most likely, want to have their cake and to eat it too. That’s a cheap analogy, but it is the best way to describe the divided and unfocused nature of The Sound Of Music.

At times The Sound Of Music is political and it relies on a political subtext. At other times The Sound Of Music aims to be a romance of the type Hollywood dreams are made of. Try as the film might it is never able to succinctly tackle both its romantic and political elements. The reason for this is that the romance isn’t given the depth it needs. We are given the beginnings of a romance and the wonderful songs do attempt to flesh out the romance but the film falls short of making the romance feel legitimate.

The biggest complaint I have with the shallowness of the romance is everything that happens after Maria goes back to the convent. The section from that point until Maria returns to the Von Trapp residence is redundant and serves no purpose other than to tell us things that we as astute viewers should already know. This leads into the issue of the films length, it is epic but it’s also too long. With more focus The Sound Of Music could have told its tale in a streamlined and succinct fashion, instead of being a tad bloated.

I was really digging the political aspect of the film. I will not lie I wish the film had spent more of its time focusing on this aspect. It disappears in the middle of the film for the romance and when it reappears for the final forty minutes it is jarring. However, the creative forces behind The Sound Of Music do a splendid job with the idea of the opulence of the Von Trapp’s being a representation of the ignorance of Austria over the threat of Germany. The first hour and a half of the film really stuck with me because the subtext was rich and the ideas put forth were interesting.

The cinematography of Ted D. McCord is stunning, especially in the moonlight sequences. The production behind The Sound Of Music is lavish, and it is money well spent as far as recreating an era and creating a mood are concerned. However, the production is most powerful in terms of its music. There’s no denying the loveliness of the songs, and the amazingly catchy lyrics. The songs in The Sound Of Music are plentiful and they are always a joy to take in.

My wife already told me she has no intention of reading this review. She loves The Sound Of Music and does not care for me to take a critical look at it. I can understand her point of view, looking at The Sound Of Music as a simple tale of love is certainly valid. I read the film differently, and while I enjoyed what the film was shooting for I don’t believe it hit all its marks. The Sound Of Music is a good film, and a very catchy musical, but my mind is stuck on the great movie it could have been with a little more focus.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “Music Music Music! Marathon: The Sound Of Music (1965)

  1. This is one of those films that were played on TV so often when I was a kid that a whole generation of people grew up watching it. This makes it hard for any of them to take a critical look at it. Personally, I don’t have the issues with it that you did because I’ve seen it so many times.

    A parallel would be the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I grew up watching it every Christmas and I still catch it from time to time now. Sure, someone could point out how bad the animation is, but that’s not going to change the opinions of those who are reliving a part of their childhood when they watch it.

  2. That’s fine, I have no problem with people thinking the movie is legitimately great or enjoying it for nostalgic reasons. I, however came to the movie fresh and enjoyed it, but found it quite flawed. That’s just my opinion though, one in a sea of many opinions.

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