Director: Robert Wise
“That exhilarating opening helicopter shot across the mountaintops – finally alighting on Andrews running exuberantly as she bursts into “The hills are alive” may now seem hackneyed, but that’s only because its efficiency in establishing mood (and, indeed, meaning, since The Sound of Music is a film in which music and the life force are inextricably linked) has meant that it has been much imitated. And let us not forget: like it or not, those tunes really are unforgettable.” (Geoff Andrew, 441, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) I have to confess my favourite version of ‘The Hills are Alive’ is actually the couple of lines Ewan McGregor sings in Moulin Rouge (2001, Baz Lurhmann) Julie Andrews really does have the most beautiful voice and is also wonderfully naive as Maria. I’m not really a fan of The Sound of Music and have never really got the appeal of it. The children are sickeningly sweet and the whole singing, nazi-fighting nuns – what on earth?! Gretl is the only child I actually like … she is just adorable.
The house is sumptuous with a beautiful interior. There is a contrast between the von Trapp house, which is light and airy, and the Abbey which is darker and much more enclosed. And the vistas of the surrounding area are stunning. The Baroness is a deceptive character seemingly a lovely woman who reveals herself to be scheming and manipulative in order to achieve her own ends. Lisel is lit in the same sort of technique often employed in the films from the ‘Golden Era’ of Hollywood and film noir. It creates quite a romantic air about her which reflects her character. When Maria and Georg finally accept their feelings for each other we see a return of the romantic diffused lighting while they are silhouetted against the door frame of the gazebo.
Christopher Plummer as Georg is so straight-laced and a father clearly incapable of connecting with his children. His transformation at the hands of Maria is subtle and yet at the same time completely expected. He learns to become a father again rather than an officer of the Navy. He becomes much more playful throughout the film. The children’s costumes often seem to not only match each other but that of their father. This creates a unity between the family, especially at a time when they’re not really functioning as a family. As the mood within the family becomes more relaxed the costumes become less uniform and you see more of each child’s personality.
Once Maria and Georg are married the film takes on a different tone. Due to the appearance of the Nazi’s and the Third Reich there is an uneasy and slightly unpleasant undercurrent to the conclusion of the film. The score reflects the soundtrack with a number of the songs easily recognizable throughout the score. I still don’t really understand the long-lasting appeal that the film has – both my mum and sister love it while I’m indifferent to it. It’s not a film I would go out of my way to watch it and yet at the same time I won’t turn it off if it’s on.