like the former category either, as the characters are rather well rounded and nuanced. Instead the musical numbers both emphasise certain stages of emotion the characters are going through or elaborate on them. Look at the titular “The Sound of Music” for instance. As we watch the camera pan around the gorgeous Austrian vistas from snow-peaked mountain ranges, to deeply embedded rivers and lush valleys we finally land on Maria as she carelessly spins around screaming: “The hills are alive with the sound of music; with songs they have sung for a thousand years; the hills fill my heart with the sound of music…” and so on and so forth. These first few lines and the opening sweep that’s nearly a minute long is especially important. It shows an integral connection between Maria and the environment she is part of. We immediately identify her as a free spirit with a strong will of her own and with a playful mind. Only one minute into the film and we already know the establishing traits of our main character. Now that’s just great storytelling.
But it isn’t just the writing that works; it’s everything that surrounds it as well. The breathtaking vistas, the operatic score, the on-location shootings and genius cinematography and lighting make Maria one with the hills. The film continues like this, even reusing songs in different contexts such as the adorable ‘So long, Farewell’. First used as a lighthearted goodbye song as the von Trapp children leaves a party, it is used in the final act as a heart-wrenching goodbye to the Austrian country, as Maria and the rest of the von Trapp’s try to escape from the Nazi’s clutches. So the songs are more than mere set pieces but none of this would have worked had it not been for the two main performers, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Hot off the heels of her success in the film adaptation of Mary Poppins released the year prior, Andrews especially is a force to be reckoned with both inand outside the musical numbers. It goes without saying that her singing voice is beautiful, unmatched even, but her acting outside of these numbers are equally impressive. It’s the little mannerisms, quirks, smirks
The Sound of Music (1965), 20th Century Fox. Directed by Robert Wise. Thetornadotimes.com
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