The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is based on the Broadway musical by the same name. The story follows Maria, a novice in Austria known for her misbehaviors. She is sent to work as a governess for the seven children of a widowed Austrian naval captain. Once in the house, Maria finds herself at odds with the captain’s strict authoritarian rule and with his children’s insistence on playing jokes on her. In time, however, she manages to win the children’s trust and respect, and eventually the captain’s heart.
The Sound of Music is a little obnoxious. There is a lot of singing, dancing, and smiling. At face value, it seems odd and unfamiliar. Julie Andrews is charming, but then she is too charming, and characters seem too stereotypical for any deep plot to develop. In fact, the plot itself seems simple and non impressive. So what makes it so special? And why is it that I know the lyrics to most of the words without having ever seen the movie or the musical? And why is Julie Andrews the only female character with short hair? And why is it in Austria?
Musicals are strange creatures. Simple plots and characters can carry a political agenda that is spread through the media and across social classes. The Sound of Music is the kind of cultural item that can be accessed and that is praised because it comes from a respectable source – white American Jewish business-men – and so it is the perfect channel through which political agendas can be carried and small subliminal messages can be spread to the public. It’s sad though, that for something like a rebellious short-haired woman to be a main character in a timeless classic American musical, two men have to write, compose, and sponsor the film.