It all started when I rented a video for my family to watch. I decided it was time for a little bit of culture, so I picked a film I loved as a child. Did I say loved? I mean adored, worshiped, memorized. I had seen this film so many times in my childhood that I had not bothered to watch it in the last 19 years. But this was the day. My daughter Cora was four and given to memorizing snatches of songs from her favorite TV shows, so I knew she would be down with it. Secretly I was planning a whole slew of musicals over the next couple of months. What I hadn’t figured out was how I was going to get my husband to watch them.
I got home and my husband spied the movie clutched lovingly in my hand. “Oh no, you didn’t” he said in horror. You must understand, this film was absolutely vilified in his household. A single note sung by Julie Andrews would have his whole family sprinting to the nearest exit. Nevertheless I persevered and my husband made himself scarce for the next couple hours, emerging only to utter snide comments.
As for Cora, she was absolutely enthralled. She sat, mouth agape, listening to every song. The dialogue she was less interested in, but no one really watches The Sound of Music for the dialogue anyway. And we did fast forward past the long instrumental piece at the beginning—-straight to Julie Andrews famously twirling on an Austrian hillside.
It was as good as I remember in many ways. But I also saw its weaknesses for the first time. The songs are simple and repetitive. The plot is a stretch by any means—-Maria and Captain Von Trap fall in love after talking maybe three times? The sixteen-year-old Louisa is happy to wait “a year or two” before dating? And perhaps most far-fetched, all seven Von Trap children adore Maria after one verse of “My favorite things”. Finally, I realized that this was the beauty of the film. It made love seem so easy.
The next day my daughter had some new lyrics to sing. Over breakfast she belted out “How do you solve a problem like Ramia?”. Well, close enough.
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