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The Sound of Music

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SO MUCH has already been written about The Sound of Music I doubt there’s very much, if anything, I can add. However, with its recent release on DVD, it can now reach a much wider audience, and perhaps more importantly, one that embraces a completely new generation.

So, just what is it all about? Based on fact, The Sound of Music is the story of a young postulant, the irrepressible Maria (Julie Andrews) who, against her will and to determine her suitability to become a nun, is sent to work as governess to seven unruly children.

Their father, Captain Von Trapp, a lonely widowed naval officer (Christopher Plummer) runs his home (and children) with military precision – much to Maria’s dismay. Yet undeterred, she challenges his system, as well as her charges’ initial antagonism, and, in no time at all, has won them round with her warmth and spontaneity. She also brings music into their lives.

Before long and in spite of his engagement to the beautiful but calculating Baroness Schraeder (Eleanor Parker), it becomes clear that the Captain has fallen in love with Maria, and she with him which, not surprisingly, leads to all kinds of complications…..

Filmed in 1965, in Salzburg against the majestic Bavarian Alps, The Sound of Music looks as good today as it did 40 years ago. That it won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Wise) in itself speaks volumes.

And the cast is superb. Andrews, in particular, shines as the gauche novice whose transformation to serene bride is as effortless as her ability to hit the high notes. She will, as Lloyd Webber no doubt realizes, be a hard act to follow.

There are, of course, those who consider it over sentimental and deride it as such but The Sound of Music doesn’t shirk from depicting the darker side of pre-war Austria and the ever-increasing threat of Hitler’s Nazi movement. In fact, it’s this very thing that creates some genuinely heart-stopping moments.

As for the music, it’s quite possibly the best produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein in what can only be described as a remarkable career. Songs like The Lonely Goatherd, My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Me will set you humming long after the DVD player is switched off.

The Sound of Music is generally considered to be one of the best musicals ever made. And it’s true. It has a feel good factor that, like the music, will stay with you long after the final credits have rolled. Moreover, it’s a film that has more than stood the test of time; one that has no need of a Hollywood make-over. Why? Quite simply, because you can’t improve on perfection.