Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Watch: The Sound of Music

I'm starting a new weekly topic here at The Cozy Page on romance in movies. This week's featured film is The Sound of Music.

Last week, while my husband and I were dealing with a virus, we needed a comfort watch. I instantly reached for The Sound of Music. For me, this movie and a bowl of chicken noodle soup makes feeling bleh a little less oppressive. It's one of those movies you don't expect to take such a romantic turn. Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp is one of my favorite heros of this film period. He also makes one of my favorite hero entrances. All we've heard of the captain up to this point of the story is that he is an esteemed naval hero and widower in need of a governess for his children. Maria is waiting to be interviewed and, typical of her nature, begins to lower the ground floor of the impressive Von Trapp family mansion. She walks into a dark room - an abandoned ballroom, upon closer inspection - and, again being Maria, lets her imagination run away with her in the gilded chamber, curtsying to invisible beaux. The door slams, light cuts sharply through the shadows, spotlighting her and Maria, flustered, looks up to see the broad silhouette of a rigid man. After a moment, he steps aside motioning her to exit without a word. Maria hurries into the bright entry hall and, in a wonderful play of light, the captain walks into the light, shadows slowly revealing his scowling face as he tells her that some rooms are to remain private. She agrees. As he shuts the ballroom doors, she cranes her neck to get a good look at his face and a slow smile blooms on her smile. When asked why, she says, "You don't look at all like a sea captain, sir." The captain raises a brow and growls, "And I'm afraid you don't look anything like a governess," effectively dimming Maria's expression.

In romance, well-written dialogue and well-motivated banter go a long way toward making the storyline all that more likeable. The captain and Maria instantly set off a fun-to-watch back-and-forth of demands on his part and teasing on hers. When they argue, it's electric - particularly the scene in which the captain catches the children out of uniform and acting out of order in front of his current love interest, Baroness Schrader. In this story, the captain grows by leaps and bounds - thanks to Maria's guidance - while Maria develops into a woman of wisdom, leaving behind the wildness of her youth - thanks to her love for the captain. Julie Andrews' performance is nothing less than spectacular.

The love story is subtlely hinted at with halting glances and smiles until the captain follows the baroness's wishes of opening the ballroom for a party in her honor. The children are watching the happenings from the courtyard when Maria attempts to teach Kurt how to do an Austrian folk dance called "The Landler." The captain walks outside and cuts in. The Landler scene is probably my favorite throughout the entire film.

This movie also is a good example in the recent argument amongst romance writers and readers of whether to involve children as secondary characters in romance novels. Some readers say they cannot enjoy a romance if one of the protagonists has a young child. In The Sound of Music, the story still manages to be romantic despite the fact that not just one but seven children are present throughout and the launchpad that brings the captain and Maria together to begin with. Without the children, this classic would have been a completely different storyline.

And, of course, when talking The Sound of Music, you have to talk music. Since I was forced to sing "My Favorite Things" and "Climb Every Mountain" in my jr. high's girls choir, when picking a favorite I have to go with "Edelweiss."

Readers, what is your favorite romantic aspect of this film? Favorite song?


Laura Breck said...

Ah, Edelweiss. Brings a tear to my eye every time!

Hope you're feeling better, Amber, and the Mr. too!

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