The Sound of Music
By Mike Derderian
A room overlapping a garden filled with apple trees. Adam is lying next to Eve while a snake curling up on a branch awaits the chance to deceive. A young man with steady footsteps approaches one of the blossoming twigs bearing a full, rounded green apple. Its own weight is pulling it down towards the unearthed soil where it will drop and rot. Such is the human life cycle, for we are born into this crummy materialistic world and are destined to die and fall. As we grow older and older the mounting load of our own mortal flesh and bone bodies will thrust us into the darkness of the abyss we call death. We are nothing but ashes waiting to be scattered in the blowing wind.
The young man picks the apple and offers it to a woman sitting on a chair. The snake bursts into laughter and yells out, “make sure you spit out the seeds of the apple you eat so that the forbidden knowledge it bore grows into trees.”
I’ve never felt so sad, even after I hear the pleasing sounds surrounding the enchanted apple garden where the footsteps of imaginary elves, who dance and chant to the sounds of ephemeral music every night, appear visible to the greedy human eye.
I have realized that every time I watch The Sound of Music I am overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness and an urge to cry. It’s probably because I’ve seen it over a hundred times, but then again it might be attributed to the soft vessels and valves of my cursed glass heart. I remember a beautiful dream that I experienced 15 years ago when I held Maria’s hand while we danced around a stone fountain along with the Von Trapp children. If I were to be given three wishes by a genie, one of those wishes would be to spend an entire day with Julie Andrews, who marvelously portrayed Maria Von Trapp in the film adaptation.
Before being adapted for the silver screen by Robert Wise The Sound of Music was featured on Broadway in 1959 and later in 1989.
Directed by Wise and produced in 1965, The Sound of Music was the first musical that I ever watched and fell in love with immediately. Based on a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse that was suggested by the novel The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp, The Sound of Music’s brilliant screenplay was developed by Ernest Lehman.
The soundtrack of this undying family picture, which is enjoyable from every aspect from music, singing to lyrics, cinematography and acting, was co-written by Richard Rodgers (Music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (Lyrics).
Shot in parts of Germany (Bavaria), Austria (Salzburg and Mondsee), Los Angeles and California one cannot but delve into the scenic nature that was beautifully captured in most of the scenes.
Along with Andrews the film features Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Anna Lee, Portia Nelson, Ben Wright, Daniel Truhitte and Christopher Plummer as the stiff lipped Captain Georg Von Trapp. Of course one cannot forget the young actors, who played the roles of the Von Trapp children.
One of them, Nicholas Hammond, who played the role of Friedrich Von Trapp, grew up to play Spiderman in the not-so-bad-because-they-had-no-CGI-special-effects 1977 television series The Amazing Spiderman.
Here is a list of the young actors who played the roles of the Von Trapp Children: Charmian Carr (Liesl), Heather Menzies (Louisa), Duane Chase (Kurt), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Debbie Turner (Marta) and Kym Karath as Gretl, the youngest and cutest among the Von Trap children.
The events take place right before WWII, as the influence and power of Nazi Germany is casting its shadow over Austria. It is about Maria (Andrews), who fails to become a nun thanks to her over zealous love for nature, instead of fastening and praying all the time. Upon the advice of the mother abbess (Peggy Wood) she becomes the governess of Captain Von Trapp’s horrible children.
The film’s opening sequence, where Maria can be seen standing on a hilltop singing the title song The Sound of Music is one of the best scenes. “The hills are alive with the sound of music” has become a catch phrase. Andrews, who in reality was an accomplished vocalist, sung most of her songs. This was one of the reasons that made the producers choose her for the part in the first place.
Andrews’s first debut in show business was at the age of 19 in Broadway, in 1954. However, her breakthrough was when she took the lead role in Mary Poppins for which she won an Oscar.
One of the greatest moments in this film is the puppet scene in which The Lonely Goatherd is staged and sung by Maria and the children. The whole scene is amusing and fun to watch, especially when the colorful puppets begin to dance and sing around.
As in every musical there has to be a love story. On the one hand we have the growing affection between Maria and George, which later on develops to true love despite the obstacles laid cunningly by the baroness Elsa (Parker).
On the other hand we have the young and innocent love that combines Liesl, the eldest daughter and Rolf (Daniel Truhitte), which appears during one of the most intimate and romantic scenes of the film: The garden gazebo scene where they sing and dance to the music of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
That’s not all; the film is loaded with songs that have become part of our daily lives; call me a fool for romance, but I always hum Do, Re, Mi, Edelweiss, I Have Confidence, Maria, and my favorite from among other things is So Long Farewell.
So the next time you see a person sitting in a bus humming The Lonely Goatherd, that could be me, which gives me the opportunity to tell you more about The Sound of Music.