In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom. Number 4 is the bestest, most glorious and awe-inspiring movie musical ever - The Sound of Music, released in 1965. (Who me, biased?)
If you have not seen this movie before, there is nothing more important in your life than to go immediately to Amazon, or your local Target or wherever and pick up a copy. You should buy it because you are going to love it. It's 100% my favorite movie musical, and an amazing achievement in the genre. Here's why:
--- Julie Andrews = BOSS ---
The character of Maria is the most important aspect of this movie. Maria is the catalyst who every character falls in love with (well maybe except for the Baroness). She has to carry the whole film on her sunshine-y shoulders and Julie Andrews is captivating. She's full of determination, compassion and grace. And loveliness - it's such a perfectly pitched performance - not too saccharine, because she knows when to fight back against the Captain, and yet she is the sweetest most understanding governess. And what an amazing voice! Her diction is so crystal clear, and her high notes are effortless. It's enough to make me cry. Julie Andrews is perfection in this film.
--- The Music ---
I think the mark of a good movie musical is that the songs flow very well from the speaking scenes. It feels right that they start singing, and in almost every song that is the case (the exception to me is "Something Good". I feel like the Captain would rather not take a singing break when he's trying to propose. LOL) The music is just good as well - catchy, memorable and they perfectly advance the scene. I love pretty much all the songs, and love how they were staged and executed. I'm even in love with the changes they made with switching the song order as it was in the stage musical and cutting some songs. ("An Ordinary Couple" is BORING and "No Way to Stop It" depresses me with it's selfish pessimism.) I think the film is a much better version of the story than the stage musical.
--- The Cinematography ---
Not only do we get perfection in the acting, singing, and the story- we also get gorgeous vistas/on location filming in Austria?? This film is doing EVERYTHING right! Watching this on the big screen or the small screen - it's all breathtaking. I can't imagine how this film would have been received if we didn't get such beautiful shots of the countryside. It brings out the beauty of the story and makes the Captain's patriotism all the more understandable. It's truly heartbreaking that he had to leave his country behind.
--- The Romance ---
I'm a sucker for a good romance, and The Sound of Music delivers in every way. There's palpable chemistry between Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and the tension is worked gloriously. So swoony! I have to say, my favorite scene in the film is when Maria and the Captain dance the Laendler. I kind of just curl up with pure joy with that scene. Just the way they look at each other! And the dance is so gracefully folksy. Elegant and down to earth - such a strange combo but in a way it seems like the perfect metaphor for the way Maria and the Captain work together as a couple.
Umm, this is just a short selection of all the ways this movie does it for me. I mean other highlights are the perfect casting of the children, the wonderful directing, and the hopeful and uplifting message of the movie, but I do need to stop writing this post some time. I know there are three more films for me to watch (somehow they are ahead of this movie?), but my love for The Sound of Music is endless because it hits everything I love about storytelling and it's a well crafted movie musical - a perfect transition from stage to screen.
Note: I actually wrote this post on April 19th, just after watching The Sound of Music when it was shown in theaters for it's 50th Anniversary. It was wonderful to see this film on the big screen for the first time!
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