Other than The Wizard of Oz, no Hollywood musical is as familiar, reassuring, and beloved of all ages as The Sound of Music.
The loosely fact-based story has its earliest origins in the memoirs of Baroness Maria von Trapp, and was turned into a stage musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein in their final collaboration (and their only joint effort to rival their first collaboration, Oklahoma!).
In bringing the musical to the screen, director Robert Wise made spectacular use of magnificent mountain landscapes and shooting locations in Germany and Austria. He also found in Julie Andrews the quintessential Maria, radiantly joyful, earnest and energetic, clear of diction and powerful in song.
Her performance anchors the film: Any flicker of condescension or insincerity on her part, and the whole thing would have collapsed into treacle and camp. But cynics will search her face in vain: Her sincerity is absolute, and she sells the role and the film.
While the story depicts a religious postulant leaving the convent for marriage and family, both domestic and religious life are honored; God’s will and one’s own vocation, not one state versus another, is clearly the point. (Still, the musical does de-emphasize the role of religion in the original story. For example, the family’s real musical mentor, after Maria, was a boarder who was a Catholic priest!)
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.