These Reviews|Blogs|Re-tellings are M15+ | You could get offended, there will be spoilers throughout and I may not fact check
Reviewed: February 2021 - Disney +
Genre: Musical | Romance | Family
Director: Robert Wise
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Angela Cartwright
Music: Rodgers and Hammerstein
I was looking through the list of Academy Award Winning Movies to see what gem I'd like to review next, and when I got to 'The Sound of Music' I knew my search had ended! The movie review and then short story I will write about this movie is everything 'Movie of the Day' embodies - sarcastic, dark comedy at its best. Ha!
The hills are alive with the sound of Julie Andrews, spinning atop a meadow amongst the sweeping mountains of the Austrian/Germany border. One of the most iconic songs, movies and opening scenes - and look, we use the word 'iconic' way too much these days - but deservedly so in this instance. 'The Sound of Music' is one of those movies that everyone has - at the very least - heard of, and most of us have seen. And the songs… we all know the songs. Don't even try to deny it!
Do I have to introduce Dame Julie Andrews to you? She is Mary Poppins after all. This is a woman whose stage, movie and musical career has spanned over seven decades. She's won Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys, and the Queen made her a Dame. A true living legend.
Fun Fact:Julie Andrews lost her singing voice in 1997 after having surgery to remove a nodule on her vocal cords. Julie's four-octave range is gone... In her mid-60's she began a new career as an author of children's books. Cool.
Ok, so Julie Andrews is Maria, a novice nun who sucks at being a nun in every possible way - she's out singing in a meadow when she should be back at the nunnery praying. So 'How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?'
You send her to live with a widowed father of seven. Not what the nuns I went to school with would have done.
With a carpet bag and guitar in hand, Marie sings her way to the von Trapp estate. Bloody hell, are they going to sing every three-minutes?? I know it's a musical but Jesus Christ.
Naturally, Maria makes a shitty first impression; as she waits for the butler to get Captain von Trapp, Maria lets herself into the ballroom - a room that is off-limits. The Captain is pissed off! Captain von Trapp is played by Christopher Plummer CC who apparently wasn't overly fond of being remembered for this role. As with Dame Julie, Christopher Plummer's career also spanned seven decades in film, television and theatre. He is the only Canadian to have won the 'triple crown of acting' - an Academy, Emmy and Tony. And so that you don't have to look it up - the CC after his name stands for Companion of the Order of Canada. You're welcome.
The Captain is a bastard. He is ex-navy - highly decorated and held in high regard - but has his head firmly up his arse, as only a person born into wealth can do. He directs Maria to twirl around - he's inspecting her clothes - and wants her to change into something else. She's a fucking nun moron - she has no more clothes!! But Maria can sew, so The Captain gets Spotlight to send over some fabric. Sweet.
The Captain lays out the rules:
DISCIPLINE - without it, the house will implode
Morning's will be spent at study, even though it's summer hols
Arvo's must be spent marching around the grounds, breathing in deeply
Bedtime must be strictly observed
The children must conduct themselves at all times with the utmost orderliness and decorum
There is no room for play
Maria learns that she is the twelfth governess to have come to the von Trapps since the missus died - the last one lasted 2hrs. Now, if you're like me - and Maria - you'd ask what was wrong with the children? Or The Captain? It's a statistical improbability that ALL eleven governesses were incapable - they just couldn't be!
And then The Captain whistles for the children. With a naval whistle. Like a dog. Or a sailor. Either way I think we're starting to see who might be the issue…
Six out of the seven children come running out of their rooms, and line up along the walk-way. They march their way downstairs to the beat of the whistle, in perfect formation whilst the seventh - Angela Cartwright, known to many as Penny from the original TV series 'Lost in Space' - wanders in reading a book. The Captain inspects the line of children, as one would inspect a line of sailors, and he introduces Maria as their new governess. Each child presents him or herself to the piercing sound of their individual whistle|signal|fucked-if-I know-what-to-call-it, which Maria is expected to learn. And The Captain gives Maria her own whistle|signal|fucked-if-I know-what-to-call-it which she immediately rejects. He is - again - pissed off.
Maria: I'm sorry sir, I could never answer to a whistle. Whistles are for dogs and cats and other animals - they're not for children and definitely not for me. It will be too humiliating.
Captain: Fräulein - were you this much trouble at the Abbey?
Maria: Oh, much more sir!
As the children are sent out for their walk, the housekeeper takes Maria up to her room. But not before she finds a big fat frog in her pocket. You say the last governess lasted only 2hrs? She got a snake in HER pocket!
It's dinner time and Maria is late and they're all waiting for her. She sits down - on a pine-cone. You little fuckers. But she doesn't dob them in, which they seem to have been expecting her to do. Hmm. And then Maria does some serious mind-game-voodoo shit, and thanks the brats for the kind and thoughtful gift they left in her pocket - doesn't tell The Captain that it was a frog - and proceeds to make them all cry. Well played Mary Poppins. Well played.
Dinner is interrupted by Ralph the aspiring Nazi with the really bad dye-job - this kid is not a natural blonde. He delivers telegrams and then waits out in the pergola for Liesel - the eldest of the brats - to come join. Christ another song - 'I am sixteen, going on seventeen…'
There's a dark undercurrent in this movie - on the surface it's all Disney silliness and singing - but in the background we're dealing with the start of the WW2 and Austria's involvement with Germany. There are little snippets here and there… irritating us with tiny morsels of what's to come.
From hereonin I am going to refer to Nazi's as FUCKWIT's. I don't won't the little bot thingy's that troll through websites to associate this site with the fuckers.
Bedtime and there's a storm - the usual special effects of thunder and lightning - and one-by-one the von Trapp children run to Maria's bed for comfort. Except Liesel. She's in Maria's ensuite changing out of her wet clothes - she was locked out of the house and had to climb in through Maria's bedroom window. Maria now owns her arse.
But I digress. To calm the brats down, Maria starts singing about her favourite things. Apparently, she love's brown paper packages and bright copper kettles; whiskers on kittens and schnitzel with noodles. Delightful. But who am I to argue with Roger and Hammerstein - the masters of music?
True to form, The Captain breaks up the pillow fights and singing, and berates Maria for breaking the brat's strict bedtime. He also gets into it with Liesel about her whereabouts, but Maria covers for her. Nice. The brats are sent back to bed and The Captain warns Maria to get some discipline into her before he returns from his trip to Vienna to hook-up with 'The Baroness'. Maria asks for some fabric from Spotlight to make play-clothes for the brats but The Captain tells her to chill the fuck out.
Fun Fact:'The Sound of Music' is based on the real life events of Maria and Georg von Trapp, though not all details are accurate. In real life Captain von Trapp was not a harsh man and the family was quite upset about his portrayal. They asked that the movie be changed and were obviously turned down.
Unable to get to Spotlight herself, Maria makes the brats some clothes out of the curtains in her bedroom. And don't they look nice. Insert vomit-wrenching noises. And so, with the von Trapp children dressed in the finest green and white brocade money can buy, go out roaming the streets and country-side of Salzburg learning how to laugh and play and sing - things they haven't been allowed to do since their mother died.
Hang on - learn how to sing you say? How does one learn how to sing? Surely that's something that's pretty simple to do - isn't it? One only has to know Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do
Cue a rather long and melodic musical interlude curtesy of the 'von Trapp Family Singers'.
The Captain, returning from his dirty weekend/week/month away has returned with The Baroness and his mate Max, a music producer. As they drive up the long lane-way leading to the estate they pass several children playing in the trees, all dressed in the same awful green and white brocade clothing. They look eerily familiar… The Captain gives The Baroness a tour of the place - there's a heap of flirting going on - we learn that she's rich and loves the glamour, and he's rich and hates it. And she's itching for a proposal. Watch out Captain!
Hang on - there's some ugly about to surface! Ralph has turned up with a telegram for Max and gives The Captain the ole one-handed Hitler salute. The Captain tells him to fuck off - he is a proud Austrian and he will not allow the Germans to take over his beloved country.
And then the brats come rowing down the river, laughing and singing. As they see their dad, they stand up excitedly and capsize the boat - they all take a dive into the river.
Oh fuck there's that bloody whistle again.
The Captains goes full psycho and he and Maria are into it!! There's no point in me giving you a blow-by-blow other than to say that Maria is pointing out he sucks as a father, and The Captain telling her to fuck off back to the nunnery.
Wait - what's that beautiful chorus I can hear - could it be the brats singing 'The Sound of Music' in 3-part harmony? It's intoxicating!! The Captain - drawn to his children - joins in. There is confusion on their faces, and then happiness as they all harmonise together and then go in for a group hug. Yep, I'm going to throw up.
Maria heads up to her room to pack up, but The Captain stops her and apologises for being a complete douchebag. She's going to stay people!
What comes next is just disturbing… there are puppets - a full-on marionette stage - singing and yodelling. YODELLING!!
Max - the music producer - then announces that he wants to enter the 'von Trapp Family Singers' into the Salzburg Music Festival - and is promptly shut down by The Captain. I guess there isn't much to do in this house because the very next thing they do - after the puppet show - is pressure The Captain to sing 'Edelweiss', an old Austrian folk song. Or is it?
Fun Fact: Whist the Edelweiss flower is the national flower of Austria, the song was written for the musical and included in the movie. Most people - other than Austrians - believe Edelweiss to be the national anthem of Austria. It is not.
The Baroness, feeling left out suggests they have a party so she can meet all of The Captain's friends. The very next scene, and with no movie-magic-montage, and the party is on! The once closed-off ballroom is full of people waltzing their arses off, with the brats outside looking in. The Captain and The Baroness are flitting about, with The Baroness looking absolutely breathtaking.
Maria turns up dressed in a simple summer dress and starts to dance with one of the brats out in the courtyard, before The Captain shows up and taps him out. As Maria and The Captain dance you can see the sparks fly - it's love people! And The Baroness walks out in time to catch them.
Bitch! that's my man!!
Oh God, the cuckoo song. The brats have to sing the party guests a song to announce they're going to bed - hence the 'So Long, Farewell' song. I think I'll go pop some popcorn.
The Captain has the Austrian flag proudly on display which is seriously pissing off some idiots, like the Mayor of Salzburg who is a full-on FUCKWIT. They have words - it's relevant for later on.
Meanwhile, Max has invited Maria to come join the party but she has nothing to wear, so The Baroness is upstairs offering to help her dress. But she's a super-bitch, and the claws have come out. The Baroness tells Maria what everyone can see: that Maria loves The Captain and The Captain loves Maria. But Maria is an honourable person and knows that The Captain is with The Baroness - she has to piss off back to the nunnery.
The jealous bitch is running Maria out of town!
As Maria leaves the von Trapp house - heartbroken - carrying her carpet bag and guitar, wearing the clothes she came in, The Baroness is back at the party, sculling champers and dancing with her man.
And then interestingly - we have: INTERMISSION - I'm watching this on Disney + so I'm getting the original experience which - back in the day - included a 10-20min intermission in the cinema for bathroom breaks and food runs.
Fun Fact: They stopped including intermission breaks in feature films in the early 1980's; Gandhi (1982) was the last mainstream movie to include one.
Ok. With Maria gone The Captain has settled and will wed The Baroness - the brats are shattered. With no governess The Baroness now has to deal with the fact there are seven broody brats to engage with - and she has zero skills. Her solution - boarding school. Shhh - don't tell The Captain.
What can the brats do? They go to the nunnery and try to talk to Maria, but they get turned away. We learn that Maria hasn't told anyone why she came back - she's been left to pray her arse off. The Mother Abbess decides it's time Maria fesses up and lets Maria know that God would be cool if she and The Captain were to love each other - she doesn't have to be a nun. What she does have to do is go back and find out.
But not before Mother Abbess sings 'Climb Every Mountain', a song I sang at the Tamworth Eisteddfod as a kid - I have the trophy around here somewhere.
The brats are back home - in trouble for pissing off into town - so they start to sing about their favourite things. You know, there's a reason I don't watch a lot of musicals. Somewhere in between 'Girls in white dresses' and 'A few of my favourite things' the unmistakable voice of Julie Andrews joins in - she's back!
And the first thing she learns is that The Captain is marrying The Baroness. Well, that fucked up her plans! She graciously wishes The Captain and The Baroness all the best and lets them know she'll only hang around long enough for them to arrange a new governess. After dinner, Maria heads out to look at the river, but she's not alone - the Captain is on the terrace checking her out - and the Baroness has caught him! And, as she prattles on like a mindless twit The Captain calmly turns to her and tells her it's over. But the bitch ain't having that - she's dumping HIM… watch out Karen!
Though she does do ONE good thing:
The Baroness: … And somewhere out there is a young lady who I think will never be a nun.
The Captain: (shows surprise - which was surprising considering the level of botox in his face)
A jovial Captain seeks out a crestfallen Maria and asks her why the fuck did you leave? And why the fuck did you come back? There's the usual banter that eventually gets to The Captain being a free agent and they both love each other.
And then they sing. Together. Again. Yep - I'm never doing another musical.
Righto, the bells are ringing, Maria is dressed in white and the nuns are seeing her off to a packed church. It's time to become Mrs von Trapp. With everyone singing 'How do you Solve a Problem like Maria'. You marry her off to a widower with seven brats and then go on a month-long honeymoon.
Only to return to a FUCKWIT occupied Salzburg. Told you this movie was dark.
Max has taken full advantage of The Captain being away and has entered the brats in the Salzburg Music Festival - the program has been printed and the 'von Trapp Family Singers' are performing! As they practice, the Mayor - now the head FUCKWIT in town - warns Max that the von Trapp household needs to toe the FUCKWIT line. Fly the flag and embrace the Fuhrer. Heil Hitler! Yeah, fuck Hitler.
Fun Fact: All of the child actors grew so much during filming - one by six inches - that heaps of Hollywood tricks had to be used to cover the changes. eg. heel lifts, different camera angles, standing on boxes, wearing no shoes.
The Captain and Maria are home! And the first thing The Captain does is tear down the FUCKWIT flag hanging over the front door. Nice. The second thing he does is ban the family from singing in public - how many times does he have to tell you Max? The third thing he does is read a telegram Ralph gave Liesel after singing practice - the FUCKWIT fucker treated her like shit btw.
The Captain has been 'requested' to front up to the naval base tomorrow - he has to fight for the FUCKWIT's! If he refuses the whole family will be executed. The von Trapp family has to leave Austria - tonight!!
That night as the family try to escape their home, the Mayor and a FUCKWIT squad are lying in wait - their butler has dobbed them in. What a prick! The only excuse The Captain can give - they're on their way to the music festival and the car won't start. Fuck you says the Mayor - I'll escort you myself and then take The Captain to the naval base afterwards.
The festival is crawling with FUCKWIT's - how the hell will the family escape? They do their set, with the crowd joining in on Edelweiss - don't forget they think it's their beloved national anthem - before the 'von Trapp Family Singers' do an encore. They do the 'Cuckoo Song' which allows for the family to peel away one or two at a time. And with Max announcing the winners - you know who it is! - there is plenty of time for the family to make their escape. They head for the nunnery - what better place for sanctuary? The family hides up in a locked part of the churches cemetery and almost get away, but are discovered by Ralph!
The fucker pulls a gun on The Captain but The Captain talks him down and disarms him. But wait - have you forgotten what a prick you were to Ralph, Captain? Yeah, Ralph hasn't! He may not be able to shoot you, but he can call out for help.
The nunnery's car is just there - cool, not too far to run - so the family pile in and off they go with the FUCKWIT's in hot pursuit. But why the fuck won't the FUCKWIT's cars start? I think there are a couple of nuns who need to head to the confessional - surely it's a sin to disable someone's car?
And that's where we leave the von Trapp family. They head for the mountains and climb their way into Switzerland. The End.
Fun Fact: The real von Trapp family did not climb the mountains in the middle of the night to cross into Switzerland - they stepped out the back door and boarded a train to Italy, the day before the borders closed. And you can't actually get to Switzerland from Salzburg without going through Germany. Tricky.
'The Sound of Music'… not all light and sweet. Any movie that includes FUCKWIT occupation has to have some shadows in its basement. And look - the singing. There's SO much singing. My childhood music teacher must have been obsessed with this movie because I swear, I sang at least four of these songs at Eisteddfods over the years. And she was a nun! Ha!!