With the hills alive and well with the sound of music, it must be said that beyond that was less of a good time. The Sound of Music envisions that in this war-torn period, the sobering effects of the post-war reality settle in and allow for a reflective musical on the time of German invasions and Nazi occupation. Heavy lifting, to say the least. Commentary of that variety became common and still is, with different facets, battles and brutal assimilations of culture under the strict rule of invading forces picked apart and adapted to the big screen with a broad array of results. The Sound of Music is one of the classics, a pioneering achievement. One of the few war-set movies to find some beauty in all the bombs and horror stories.
That is very much the lead draw of The Sound of Music. The fact it can take the light-hearted foolishness of growing up and coming of age in its stride as it batters back rather trivial representations of good and evil. Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews are naturals in this feature, the back and forth between them display the squabbles that never died out amid the bigger reproaches of universal consequence and warfare. Andrews’ plucky lead performance is the light at the end of the horrible tunnel for strict and regimented children who are willing to break free from the rule of their father. That much forms the basis for much of The Sound of Music, and the natural rehabilitation between Baron von Trapp (Plummer) and his children is as engaging as it is heart-warming.
That thoughtful approach means director Robert Wise has no trouble not just in adapting the terrible war these characters live through but the lighter charms and musical elements. A musical with great songs, Andrews is on hand to deliver some quality hits that do preserve an important core of The Sound of Music. Without those breaks for humour, love and even reproach at times, there would be no room for tame and obvious political commentary. For its time though, a monumental statement. To see Plummer rip up the Nazi flag will be a scene utilised throughout the modern era. Where accuracy leaves in this adaptation of the von Trapp family, entertainment enters. It is the inevitable trade-off that could stir an audience into loving or hating this feature. Either way, it is hard to argue against its qualities as a musical or piece of entertainment.
It is hard to define the literal qualities of The Sound of Music, a feature that regardless of viewing or not, has already embedded itself into the cultural memory. There is no way of removing it. Passing audiences or those who have not seen it can still probably picture Andrews swirling around in the green fields of Austria. That is the impact The Sound of Music has though, a universal entity that has managed not just to respect and refuse the right to become an institutional cash cow but still manage to infuse itself into the synapses of every brain. The hills are alive with the sound of music, and there is no way of escaping that.