by Norman Berdichevsky (April 2015)
Last week, on March 27th the stars of the Sound of Music reunited in Hollywood to celebrate the milestone of the 1965 musical that has become an enduring classic, kicking off the TCM Festival and featuring a screening at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Julie Andrews, now 79, told The Associated Press that she couldn't pinpoint the overriding reason that the film has been so popular for so many years, but added, "They all came together to make, I guess, a joyous family film, that's the best way I can describe it." In honor of the anniversary celebration, a five-disc Blu-ray DVD collection has been released along with the soundtrack's re-release and four new books about the film. The movie opens in over 500 theaters in April. more>>>
The original book - by Maria von Trapp - "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" - is a must-read. In the book, she relates how the Captain came to her and told her the Nazis had offered him command of one of the wonderful new hi-tech (for the time) German U-boats (he had been a submarine captain in the extremely dangerous original submarines in WWI). He was tempted; but he decided, in the end, that his conscience could not permit him to take up the offer; he would be breaching his oath to his God and to his country. She also describes how one of her younger children (she and the Captain in fact had married in the late 1920s and had had three children together, before the Anschluss) came home in great distress from school, after the Nazi takeover, describing how the new - Nazi - teacher had denigrated Jesus as "a naughty Jewish boy who disobeyed his mother". One of the Captain's older sons had already graduated from University with a medical degree , by the time the Nazis came to power. He was offered a very high position as a doctor but he refused because he knew that, as a doctor under Nazi control, he would be asked to do things that would be against his Hippocratic oath and his Catholic conscience. (The film represents most of the children, at the time of the Nazi takeover, as a good deal younger than they actually were). The book depicts a family steeped in an intelligent Catholic piety. They did not just sing sweet little folk songs; they sang complex liturgical works, Renaissance and Baroque polyphony - composers like Palestrina. A further note: when they fled Austria (having consulted with their Archbishop beforehead), Maria was pregnant with what would be, I think (if I recall correctly, it's a while since I read the book) their youngest child.
One of the greatest musicals -- I am referring to the film -- of all time that captured the imagination of both the young and not so young. More than the wonderful songs, albeit to some, saccharine, it's the personality of Julie Andrews and the crystalline beauty of her voice which endeared her to millions around the world. The amateur choral society Selangor Philharmonic Society (I was in the tenor section) even once staged it in the past, with the cast comprising local thespians and singers from across the racial and religious divide. I know of someone here who is so enamoured with the Sound Of Music (he has an astonishing collection of SofM paraphernalia: pictures, literature, video cassettes, LCDs etc. related to the film and the von Trapp family, amassed from his travels abroad) that he has seen it more times than he has ever eaten chapatis in his lifetime!
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