MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #40. The Sound of Music (1965)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
 Sound of Music Poster horiz
“After all, the wool from the black sheep is just as warm.”

Nostalgia has a lot of explaining to do.  If it wasn’t for nostalgia, there would be a lot of shitty movies out there long forgotten, that are unfortunately still get considered ‘classics’ today.  And I’m just as guilty for this proliferation as anyone.  Do I love the original Star Wars movies and hate the prequels because one series was better than the other?  Or did I like the originals because they’re kids’ movies I saw for the first when I was a kid, and hated the prequels because they were kids’ movies that came out when I was in my 20s?  I have to assume people still revere The Sound of Music because they saw it as kids, because there’s no reason for an adult of anywhere near average intelligence to like this piece of pandering shit.

It’s pre-World War II, and Maria (Julie Andrews) is in an Austrian abbey, training to become a nun.  But it turns out that her superior nuns don’t appreciate things like spirit and confidence, so they ship the troublesome bitch down the hill to be a governess for retired Navy officer and widow, Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer).  Looking after his seven kids, Maria soon turns the beaten down introverts into all singing, all dancing precocious little shits.  At first, the buttoned down Captain Von Trapp is dead against it, but eventually , his cold heart thaws and he realises that having happy kids isn’t the worst thing in the world.

At this stage, you probably assume Von Trapp would fall in love with Maria and they would make one, big happy family.  But no, we have to contend with a Baroness fiancé (Eleanor Parker), and a group of up and coming pricks, the Nazis.  Yep, in the world this movie, the two share equal billing as the baddies.

The Sound of Music is close to three hours long.  In my experience, approximately .0018% of all movies close to three hours long justify their length.  And The Sound of Music is clearly in the bloated majority that does not.  But what makes it even worse is, it would have been so easy to trim it down to around two hours and be kind of great.

The Sound of Music is loaded with great movie musical songs.  Iconic, infectious songs that are undeniably enjoyable.  Songs like Maria, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi, The Sound of Music and Edelwiess.  If you were writing a musical and had one song this catchy, you’d consider your job well and truly done.  The problem here is, it makes us sit through each and every one of those songs, and a few more, three times each.  Three times!  That’s insane.

You trim these songs down to one performance apiece, and you have a pretty great two hour movie musical.  But as is, and having just finished slogging my way through it, if the price of making The Sound of Music disappear forever was to also make the original Star Wars trilogy disappear, I might take that deal.  Maybe once I sleep it off and the shell shock passes, I’d consider that ludicrous.  But when the beating down of watching this movie is so fresh, nothing seems like too high a price to pay to never have to risk sitting through it again.

The Sound of Music
Directed By – Robert Wise
Written By – Ernest Lehman

Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actress (Andrews nominated, lost to Julie Christie for Darling)
Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Wood nominated, lost to Shelley Winters for A Patch of Blue)
Best Music

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