The Sound of Music is one of the most popular and entertaining films of all time. Like The Wizard of Oz, this family friendly feature is well known the world over and beloved by generations, due in large part to becoming an annual television event. In the days before VCRs I remember the excitement of being allowed to eat dinner in front of the television because The Sound of Music was on. In my household this was a rare privilege, bestowed on only the most special occasions.
Upon it’s initial release the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic received a multitude of awards including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Music Score and Best Director for the flawless direction of the versatile and highly honored Robert Wise, who also directed the Best Picture winner Westside Story. Interestingly enough, Wise only agreed to direct Sound after William Wyler had abandoned it, and if 20th Century-Fox would agree to finance his next picture, The Sand Pebbles. They did, so he did.
As most people know the story is based on a real family and the events in their life. The audience favorite tells the story of Maria, who, after proving too high-spirited for the other nuns in her convent, is sent to work as a governess for the unruly children in the Von Trapp family in 1930s Austria just before the outbreak of World War II. Julie Andrews (in only her third film) stars as the young and effervescent novice who charms her charges and wins the heart of their strict military father played by the incredibly sexy Christopher Plummer. Ironically, Plummer was known for decades to despise the film for what he thought was overwhelming sentimentality. However, as the years have passed, he has since come to embrace its charming appeal.
Although the chemistry between the two stars is palpable, their blossoming romance is conducted on the highest of moral grounds, making it a love story any adult can enjoy while in the presence of children, and likewise children with their parents. Throw in some Nazis for some villainous adventure and some angelic nuns for comic relief and you’ve got a well constructed, perfectly written, wonderfully acted, and brilliantly executed film. Simply put, The Sound of Music has everything one could want in a movie, and it is a timeless classic every family should share.
For many film fans, The Sound of Music is the 70mm experience! And Director Robert Wise doesn’t waste a moment of the grand aspect’s magic. From the very first shots across the Salzburg woods to the final camera sweeps over the Austrian Alps, to the energetic “Do, Re, Mi” montage sequence with Maria and the children scampering through picturesque scenery, to the Cathedral wedding scene with the bridal train that goes on and on and would never fit on 35mm, every frame requires the grandeur of 70mm film.
If you’re a fan of classic cinema, or just looking for a unique experience the whole family can enjoy, I recommend you get a copy of one of the most popular films of all time. You’ll undoubtedly watch it again and again and likely start a family tradition that will span the generations. Better yet, catch it on the big screen when you can. The Sound of Music is one of those classic films that pops up frequently in art houses and revival halls. When that happens you must seize the day and make the screening a priority. You will never regret the effort.