Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Come Alive with The Sound of Music


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Whenever I am down in the dumps or feeling miserable I simply hum these lines and lo! It makes me feel so much better! These revitalizing lines are from the movie Sound of Music - a movie that is such an important part of my childhood memories. Sound of Music is my ‘feel good movie’. Just watching the movie or even humming its songs can do wonders to my mood.

Set in the backdrop of World War – II the story is about Maria who is training to be a nun. However suspecting that her real call lies beyond the walls of the Abbey, Mother Superior asks her to go out and experience the outside world for sometime. She is sent to the house of a retired navy captain Von Trapp to be a governess to seven children. Maria is both excited and tensed at the prospect. On one hand, she has to deal with Captain, who ever since the death of his wife, runs his house like a dictator – ‘as if he were on one of his warships’! While on the other are bunch of seven naughty children deprived of love and enjoyment. The story that follows is that of how Maria captures the hearts of the children and Captain alike through music and her enchanting ways.

Sound of Music captures Austria at its best; you are left wanting more of the breathtaking views of the Austrian landscape. And you will love the lush locations, glimpses of the baroque city of Salzburg and not to forget the palatial house of Captain Von Trapp (which has now been converted into a museum!).

The character of Maria has been etched out so beautifully. I am a big fan of Maria! As the song sung by the nuns at the Abbey goes, “How do you solve a problem like Maria… how do you catch a cloud and pin it down…. How do you find a word that means Maria…???” To describe Maria in one word would be just next to impossible - frank, honest, sincere, loving, lively. She speaks her mind, stands up to her words and likes to live life on her terms. She detests rules that do not make sense or restrain your freedom. In contrast to that Captain Von Trapp is calm, rigid, restrained and elegant.

The movie has been interspersed with moments of fun and laughter… these include the pranks played by the kids on Maria – the frog jumping out of Maria’s pocket, Maria’s entry at the dinning table, she checks her mattress for spiders or Maria’s blunt remarks like “the poor wouldn’t take them…., (were you this much trouble at the Abbey) oh! Much more…, only during thunderstorms Captain”. Among the children it’s the younger boy, Kurt who adds most to the humour element.

So many scenes just touch your heart… one such scene is when Maria is taking the children out for shopping to Salzburg and Gretel, the youngest child drops a tomato, how Maria through her gestures tells her that she need not be sorry. The evolving relationship between Maria and the eldest daughter Liesel is so beautifully depicted. The film also shows various emotions and dilemmas that a teenager passes through. Infact the movie appeals to people of all ages - children, teenagers, parents everybody can relate to the movie.

The movie has music that elevates you and touches your soul. Most of the songs fill you with positivity and cheer. You really want to sing every song you hear. ‘The hills are alive’ makes your heart want to, beat like the wings of the birds, to laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over stones on its way, sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray!

“I have confidence…” will pump in loads of confidence for you to take on the world. Do-re-mi is the light, fun song that you can always teach your young cousins with actions et al and they are bound to love it! Other lovely songs include the soothing Edelweiss, the endearing puppet show and goodbye ‘cuckoo’ song. You also get to see some enthralling dance sequences at Ball Dance and in the chirpy romantic number ‘You are sixteen’!

The last one hour of the movie is comparatively grim and depicts tensions during the World War. The strong sense of patriotism of Captain forces him to leave his own beloved Austria instead of bowing down before the invading Germans. The last scenes of the movie have moments of tension when you wonder what would be the fate of the Von Trapp family if caught by the Germans. Even the background score has been used effectively to create the required mood.

Produced by Robert Wise, the movie has brilliant acting especially by the lead actors Julie Andrews, as Maria, Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp and Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess. The movie won many Academy Awards in 1965.

However as a child there were certain portions of the movie that I felt dragged a bit – when Captain Von Trapp, Uncle Max and Baroness Schroeder are driving down to Salsburg, the long chat between Captain von Trapp and the Baroness as they stroll in the garden and the scenes where Captain and Maria confess their love for each other. However today when I understand those dialogues, with more patience to pay attention to them, I have begun to appreciate the same!

Overall Sound of music is a movie that exudes optimism and inspires you to ‘Climb every Mountain till you find your dream’! It fills into your heart and mind the strong belief that ‘When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window’!

The beautiful story of how Maria brings back music and happiness into the lives of the Von Trapp family, Sound of music is and will always be my all-time favourite!

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely,
I know I will hear what I've heard before.
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I'll sing once more

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