Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Hills, they are alive! Sing-along Sound of Music

On Sunday, Jen, Lily, Oma and I all went to a Sing-along Sound of Music at the State Theater. If you're not familiar, it's kind of like a Rocky Horror at the midnight movies. You yell at the screen and wave your props and generally enjoy yourself in a community environment. There are costumes too. A woman dressed her kids as marionettes. I think she won the prize, which was a DVD of the movie, which is kind of cheesy, as the people attending these things almost certainly already have a copy of their own.  There was also a guy in a Nazi uniform, which I felt was in rather questionable taste.

There was an emcee, but she was pretty bad. A five minute introduction would have been fine, a fifteen minute one would have been tolerable, and the THIRTY-FIVE minute one we got was entirely too long.

There's no point in summarizing the plot of the movie, since it's so well known, so I'll instead offer my observations on the movie and the event.  It's the Sound of Music on the big screen with karaoke style lyrics for the songs. Evidently they use a DVD or BluRay rather than a film, but I don't know the actual mechanics of it. Lily loves the movie, but she got pretty antsy. In retrospect, I think watching it the night before to get her hyped about it was the wrong move, because that's almost seven hours of Sound of Music in 24 hours.

I like Sound of Music. Angela Cartwright, who plays Brigitta may have been my very first crush as a little kid, in her role as Penny in Lost in Space,

so I've always been fondly disposed towards the her and consequently the movie. I like musicals anyway, but this helped cement it.

Something that struck me about the movie on this movie is how closely it parallels Disney's Little Mermaid prequel, which is another favorite around here (and I ask you, how can the Disney karaoke game have more songs from Cars than The Little Mermaid?! It's a travesty, I tell you!) The mother dies and the grieving father of a large brood banishes all music from his kingdom.

Captain Von Trappe was an interesting guy in real life too, though the Sound of Music takes a few liberties with his biography.

The imdb triva section for the film notes that some of the kids had growth spurts during filming, and that the filmmakers tried their best to hide this (by having the kid who played Friedrich, who grew half a foot in height during production, film without shoes and having Liesl stand on a box to make her seem taller) but I noticed it when they were lined up on stage near the end of the movie, when Max is approached by Zeller. They had been lined up by height at the beginning of the movie and I thought that if they did that again, that they would have to line up in an entirely different order.

I think my favorite character was the Baroness.

Not that one!

There she is! Eleanor Parker as Baroness Schraeder.

The instructions were to hiss when the Baroness showed up on screen, but I always liked her. She's not a bad person. Wikipedia's summary suggests that she's jealous of Maria, and while that's technically correct, I think it's misleading. She recognizes Maria as disruptive influence on her household, because her fiancee has feelings for her, and tells her about these concerns. I don't think it was her specific intent to get Maria to leave as she did, though I don't think she was displeased with the outcome either.

She was the stepmom, and that can't be an easy position to be in, but she made the best of it, and she really seemed to sincerely love the Captain and he her. When Maria returns, and she's talking to Captain Von Trappe on the balcony, they both know it's over. She's talking about what to get him as a wedding present, and he cuts her off and tells her that going throuh with the marriage would be unfair to them both. She accepts this with as much dignity as she can muster, packs her little bags and returns to Vienna, wishing them well.

You don't find that as much in modern romance movies, where it seems that if one of the lead characters starts in a relationship,  but later leaves his or her partner order to be with the other lead character, that original partner always turns out to be some kind of irredeemable monster in order to justify that choice. It was a painful decision for her, but she did the right thing. She loved Von Trappe, but he loved Maria more, and as the song says, "There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, There's only you and me and we just disagree." Of course, in a movie with actual Nazi's, you don't need to create artificial villains out of people just living and loving as people do.

Also, I see that this was one of Parker's last major roles and that she is still alive. Go her!

I also like the Reverend Mother. This is probably my favorite exchange in the movie, and I'm an atheist.

Maria: I left... I was frightened... I was confused. I felt, I've never felt that way before, I couldn't stay. I knew that here I'd be away from it. I'd be safe... I can't face him again... Oh, there were times when we would look at each other. Oh, Mother, I could hardly breathe... That's what's been torturing me. I was there on God's errand. To have asked for his love would have been wrong. I couldn't stay, I just couldn't. I'm ready at this moment to take my vows. Please help me.

Reverend Mother: Maria, the love of a man and a woman is holy too. You have a great capacity to love. What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love.

Maria: But I pledged my life to God. I pledged my life to his service.

Reverend Mother: My daughter, if you love this man, it doesn't mean you love God less. No, you must find out and you must go back.

Maria: Oh, Mother, you can't ask me to do that. Please let me stay, I beg of you.

Reverend Mother: Maria, these walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.

Christopher Plummer disliked the movie for a long time. He eventually came to accept it with what I thought was a classy statement. "I was a bit bored with the character. Although we worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter is not mine. I mean, it can’t appeal to every person in the world...The world has seen (The Sound of Music) so many times. And there’s a whole new generation every year—poor kids—that have to sit through it. But it was a very well-made movie, and it’s a family movie and we haven't seen a family movie, I don't think, on that scale for ages. I don’t mind that. It just happened to be not my particular cup of tea."

I was aware of his distaste for the movie when I saw it this most recent time. I was thinking of it during the scene where Maria has returned the Abbey and the kids had gone down to it to try to talk to her. Now they're back at the mansion and he's trying to get them to admit where they were. So he's mercilessly taunting his kids with this giant smirk on his face, and it's absolutely the most animated he gets for the entire movie. I have to assume that Plummer was channeling a little of his frustration with filming in this scene.

"Stuffed yourself with thousands of delicious berries?"
"Okay, let me see them..."

"Yes, Liesl, I am quite happy with myself. Thanks for noticing."

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