The beautifully enunciated Sound of Music medley which Lady Gaga performed at last month’s Oscars ceremony alerted us to an important fact. The sentimental, song-stuffed take on the von Trapp family’s story celebrates the 50th anniversary of its UK release on 29 March.
It’s easy to see why we’re still enjoying the tale of Fraulein Maria and Captain von Trapp and his unruly brood half a century after its debut. Cosy and corny as it may be, the film touches on all the timeless biggies: identity, belonging, desire versus duty, good versus evil and age versus youth. And, as well as all that, it’s got a love story, genocidal maniacs, a bunch of wily nuns and the ever-twinkly Julie Andrews. What more could you want?
As with all musicals, watching The Sound of Music requires a special kind of suspension of disbelief. Because in everyday life people usually scream, bawl, laugh themselves silly or resort to violence when they’re overcome with emotion. Unless they’re strangely uninhibited (and not fussed about freaking out their friends, family and colleagues), they tend not to share their feelings through the medium of upbeat numbers and ballads.
Here are some of my other favourite things (sorry, couldn’t resist it) about The Sound of Music that we choose to file under ‘not relevant’ because we’re so fond of it.
1. Sitting through this particular musical extravaganza involves a journey to fidget city via numb-bumsville because it’s really quite long. 2 hours and 54 minutes to be precise.
2. Despite her chirruping Liesl is definitely not 16 going on 17. She’s at least 20 if she’s a day.
3. Like many of their ilk, the film’s makers didn’t let a little thing like historical accuracy get in the way of the story that they wanted to tell. For instance, in reality, Maria and Georg von Trapp got married for practical reasons, and the family’s departure from Salzburg was much more prosaic than in the Hollywood version. Instead of escaping over the Alps in the middle of the night, they told their friends and family that they were leaving, and got a train to Italy.
4. OK, so the Baroness is manipulative and not good with kids (it’s not a crime people). But you can’t deny that her sartorial choices are excellent.
5. The crying during the dinner on Maria’s first night as part of the von Trapp household is definitely in the running for the worst bit of acting in a musical ever.
6. With his penchant for a uniform and strangely brassy blonde hair Rolfe might as well be wearing a badge saying ‘strongest contender to become a Nazi poster boy.’
7. All the children’s accents come from several thousand miles west of Austria.
8. Kurt and Friedrich are much creepier than boys their age ever should be. They look as if, given half a chance, they’d be content to while away an afternoon rummaging around in Maria’s knicker drawer.
9. When Maria comes back from the abbey (where she’s been having big old think about what to do with her life), she declares that she’s got, ‘so much to tell’ the children. But, given that she’s been in seclusion, that’s a chat which is going to be far from scintillating.
10. The Baroness’ eyebrows are perfectly groomed things of wonder.
11. It’s bloody obvious that the unsmiling butler’s a bad un.