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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The hills fill my heart

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely I know I will hear what I’ve heard before My heart will be blessed with the sound of music And I’ll sing once more

Correction: the movie fills my heart.

I could never possibly choose just one favorite movie. I could easily tell you my favorite actress (no surprise there), or my favorite book, or my favorite song, even - but I can't just pick one film as my favorite above all. It's too hard for a film buff to answer this question. I feel that there are so many movies I love, and being asked which one I like best is like having to choose a favorite child (not like I have any children, but, you know, in the future and all).

I feel like I love certain films for particular reasons, or perhaps a movie will bring back some sort of a memory to me, and it is these sort of films that I have the greatest of sentimental attachment to. For example, Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Bringing up Baby (1938) will always be near and dear to my heart for they were the movies that introduced me to classic film - and Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant on the latter part. It's these films I may love with more of a eager passion than another movie I liked just as well, or was just as good, because these movies I hold in such high sentiment.

Though now I cannot choose just one film for my life as my favorite, a few years ago this question had a simple, easy, answer and I was always happy to be asked because I knew exactly what to answer. The Sound of Music (1965), which I fell in love with as a little kid. I know I have mentioned this before, but all the while: I abused our DVD player watching this movie over and over nearly every day. I knew the lyrics of all the songs by heart, and all the lines, and the names of all the characters - "Even the butler," I boasted to my dad. The movie was my life, no question, and there was no greater movie in the whole cinematic word than The Sound of Music.

As I got a bit older, and I got into classic films, movies quite a few years older than my revered The Sound of Music, I began to take such akin to these films that I decided maybe it was okay to add a few more films to my favorites list, and so it grew and grew beyond comprehension to the point where I'm now so fuddled up, I would only be able to furrow my brow and list just a few of my favorites, but not all, probably only what came to my head at that moment you would've asked me.

However, even though I no longer watched The Sound of Music everyday, and there were other movies that filled my heart with equal contentment, I still loved it. But as you get older and get more homework and less down time and there are so many other new movies to watch, you have less time to see a three hour movie you've watched millions of times yet again.

So I was surprised a few weeks ago upon realizing that it had probably been two to three years since I had seen The Sound of Music in its full, three hour completion. It actually made me quite upset. And remembering that I'd been gifted the DVD from one of my best friends for my eleventh birthday, I dug it up and made a date to watch the three hour movie one of these weekends with my dad. And so, I rewatched it this past Sunday.

Before rewatching it, I stopped to wonder, just a little bit, if I would love the movie with so much passion as I had when I was a little kid. After all, when I first saw this movie, I had been Brigitta's age. Would anything have changed over time? I was sure I would still find the movie great, but I wondered if I would love it as wholeheartedly as watching it when I was little, or would certain flaws sick out to me here or there - or would some things come off across as corny? It wasn't that I was doubting my love for the film, but rather would it be so monumental of a cinematic experience as when I was little and impressionable?

Well, I was silly to have any doubts, because watching it again, I felt all the same emotions when I was little, from the helicopter shot panning across Maria twirling in the gorgeous hills, to the final scene where the Von Trapps are climbing every mountain as they cross the border to safety in Switzerland. It was just as wonderful and beautiful as I had remembered it being seeing it for the first time, and I felt stupid to have ever doubted that I could "outgrow" the passionate love I had for this, dare I say, perfect movie. It's a film that you could watch for the beautiful scenery of Austria alone, but for the warmth it fills us with and the feeling of security is provides.


Things I remembered: A little - all the lyrics of the songs. I was upset that I couldn't get much farther than the first few lyrics of the title song, but of course I hadn't forgotten anything of Do Re Mi, My Favorite Things, and Sixteen Going on Seventeen. And I could still plodder through Edelweiss pretty well, which is funny considering when  I was little I thought most of the song was in German. Okay, don't laugh, the Captain sings very quietly and I was a little kid who had grown up in America and had never heard of this mountain flowering plant on the other side of the globe. (It's actually kind of creepy looking, take a look). I also, of course, remembered a great deal of what certain characters said and when, more than I thought I would, which I was very happy about. I guess if you watch a three hour movie nearly everyday for a portion of your life, certain things stick with you. For example, I  always always think of the Baroness (Eleanor Parker) telling the Captain with misty eyes, "I'll pack my little bags and return to Vienna, where I belong - and somewhere, out there, there's a lady who I don't think will be a nun."

Things I'd forgotten:  How funny this movie is! I was laughing until my sides hurt when watching the scene where Maria first meets the Captain & the Von Trapp children. So funny, all sorts of clever lines with the Captain's obsessive use of his whistle and the seven different signals he has for the kids. And the children are fantastic too in their navy esque uniforms as they do military-style verbatim introductions for their new fraulein. But best of all is when the Captain whistles his ridiculously long, hilarious sounding signal for Maria, and her reaction, and when she asks the Captain, "But, sir, what am signal am I supposed to use for you?" This scene is all the more cute and amusing when she later tells him, "I knew I loved you from the first time you blew that silly whistle." This scene, too, is so funny. I hadn't forgotten much else except something really important, which is the fact that Julie Andrews is a wonderful actress. Like, fabulous, really. 

(Let me explain that a bit. Okay, brace yourselves: I. don't. like. Mary. Poppins. Are you still breathing on that other side of the screen? I watched Mary Poppins twice, and neither my dad or I cared for it both times, but I actually don't want to give up on it yet and I think I'll try to watch it one more time and perhaps the third time will be a charm. Anyways, I don't think it was Julie's fault that I didn't like the movie, and I never blacklisted her because of it, for, after all, The Sound of Music. Still, though, I've really never paid her much attention in the past few years, though I always knew she was fabulous in this I've barely seen her in anything else but The Princess Diaries - which is actually like my favorite modern movie. Don't judge me, okay? IT'S CLEVER - which is really dumb. Because she's pretty wonderful. And her nose is really adorable. Anyways, I've got Torn Curtain coming in the mail and I'm really welcome to suggestions on where to go from there, but I don't think I can do Victor/Victoria just yet...;D. Also, if you don't believe Jools is awesome, just look at this.)

I'm not sure I could pick just one favorite song from this movie. Perhaps it's the title song, for it's so beautiful. But then again, My Favorite Things always cheers me up and my best friend and I once made a music video for Sixteen Going on Seventeen. So I really couldn't pick just one. But aren't the songs in this simply fabulous? They're just good songs, end of story. And the choreography as well, there is not all together that much of it but where there is some it's fantastic. Like Liesel and Rolf's little dance in the gazebo, I was always impressed by the way they jumped all the benches, though Charmain Carr got injured doing it. 

And so how about a favorite scene? I do think I have actually have one. It's during the glamorous ball that the Captain is throwing for the Baroness, and Maria and the children are loitering outside the dance hall in the courtyard. The orchestra begins to play an Austrian waltz, and Maria tries to teach Kurt how it goes, but he's no twinkle toes and in fact has two left feet and is fumbling all over the place. The Captain sees this, and smiles, and cuts in and this is what it entails:


Then this happens, and Brigitta steps in to point out the obvious: that Maria is blushing all over, and the Baroness cuts in on the scene. I love this part because the waltz is so very gorgeous, and I think it's the turning point in the movie about the Captain and Maria's feelings for each other. Everyone sees it: the couple in question, and the children, and the Baroness, of course, who decides it's time to do something about it.

I love the subtleness of the built up feelings that the Captain and Maria harbor for one anther. When I was little, I didn't notice it coming until the above scene. Watching it on Sunday, I picked up on the little glances between the Captain and Maria. Their love for each other grew silently, and their relationship is delicate, but if you pay attention you pick up on the small, sweet things, and this is probably one of my favorite things about the whole movie. The tiny moments that bring them together: like Maria shedding light on the Captain's stern attitude to his children, or the Captain playing Edelweiss with his guitar as he thanks Maria with his eyes for bringing music back into the house.

If you feel that this movie is overly sweet, I will concur that it's well balanced because of THE Baroness: Baroness Schraeder. Oh, the Baroness, who stands on center stage in some of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Like the one where she plays this irritably boring game with the children which involves each player having a number and tossing a ball to one another. When Kurt pleads with her to the end the game because "they're tired," the Baroness saunters off to Uncle Max, and taking a sip of pink lemonade simpers, "Boarding school." The Baroness is the ruiner of the fun right before the Intermission by sending Maria away simply by stating the obvious:

She's like the Wicked Witch of the movie, and Eleanor Parker played her so wonderfully she added that extra element of a dash of spice that the movie needed. Oh, sure, we take a sigh of relief when she tells the Captain that she's leaving for good, but you have to admit, she tried her level best and it was even a bit fun to watch the snobbish b*tch give it her all.

Lastly, the fashion freak in me must mention the costumes. Many of them are so pretty, and I'm not talking about the play clothes Maria makes for the children out of her drapery (I wonder if she's been taking notes from Scarlett O'Hara) but these four in particular:
Once I remember seeing a movie survey where the first question was, "A movie you love with a passion." Well, at the time I was unsure of how I would answer it, thinking I love all my favorite films with a passion - I mean, that's why they're my favorites. But now I think I do understand it, and I'm positive I would answer that question with this film. Why? Because, The Sound of Music was the first movie I ever saw that filled me with absolute cinematic ecstasy. It was the first movie I appreciated on a level that was greater than being "just a movie." And it's the first movie that showed me the real splendor of cinema in all its glory, and how wonderful it is to love and indulge in it.

It is corny? Yes, perhaps, however with a plot like that it's bound to be. But it doesn't matter, because I will always love and appreciate this movie, and always have a spectacular experience viewing it. I could never imagine my life without this movie in it to give me that little burst of confidence to climb every mountain. I simply love this film with a desperate passion. 


Dani said...

I was just thinking today, as I was preparing lunch, about this whole "not being able to pick a favorite movie" thing.
The #1 spot on my list used to belong to West Side Story (which is also a Robert Wise musical, funnily enough), but now I feel like I love so many great movies I can't hold just one as my absolute favorite.
And about Mary Poppins, I don't care for it either. I bought the DVD after I saw the Broadway musical, but I fell asleep the 1st time I tried to watch it and, on the 2nd time, I was just bored during the whole movie. And I thought I was the only one who didn't like MP, I even tried to see on forums if someone felt the same way, but it just seems to be a very beloved movie.

My Julie recommendation: Star! (1968).

Martin Turnbull (the Garden of Allah novels) said...

Hey Rianna, I'll forgive you that you're not a Mary Poppins fan (although I don't really understand why) because if push came to shove, I'd have to agree with you: TSOM is my favorite too, and for all the reasons you described in your blog. And if you ever do get to Salzburg (which you should, because it's delightful), you ought to do--and I'm not kidding--Fraulein Maria's Bicycle Tour.
PS - Ironically, Europeans have never heard of TSOM! That's because they know the Von Trapp family story via a German movie. You sing the songs from the movie and they look at you quite blankly!

Rianna said...

I know exactly what you mean. Though I love this movie so so so much, there are just so many others I love as well and I can't pick an absolute favorite. (I also, of course, love West Side Story, by the way. One of my favorite-favorites.)

Finally! Haha, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. Exactly, I was reading all the reviews/forums on IMdb and everybody loves it. I feel strange. But like you I watched it twice and didn't like it either time, I think I stopped it halfway in the second viewing. Oh well I might try it one more time, but I don't think it's going to happen for me, lol.

Thanks for the Julie recommendation! It's on Netflix and I was eying it anyways so now that you've suggested it I'll definitely give it a watch. I'm pretty much renting anything with Julie in it now, haha. :)

Rianna said...

Haha, yes, I'm one of those very very rare people who isn't a fan of Mary Poppins. But I'm glad we're on the same page about The Sound of Music. It's fabulous, isn't it? Oh, and thank you for the info about the Bike Tour! I actually have been to Austria, but only for a stop over. I really want to visit one day, see Salzburg and the Von Trapp house, and I would definitely take the bike tour. And very interesting that many Europeans haven't heard of it. You would think they would with it being a tourist attraction and all, and since the movie is such a phenomenon here in the US; I mean does anyone NOT know the lyrics to "Do Re Mei?"

Dani said...

I just remembered that one of my sisters was watching the movie with me the 1st time and she fell asleep too. The 2nd time, with my other sister, she couldn't bear to finish it. So, there you go: 2 more people who don't like Mary Poppins. That makes a whole handful of them (me, you, your father and my two sisters). Yay!
And about Star!, I think you'll like it. I bought the DVD just because of Julie (and because it was very cheap at the time) and I didn't regret it.

Kristen said...

I adore this movie!

Rianna said...

There's actually a handful of us! Wow! I never would have guessed. Everyone loves it. I think I'll try it again in light of my new Julie obsession, but I wouldn't be surprised if I fell asleep. And I've got Star! coming in the post in a few days so I'll let you know what I think of it when I watch it. So excited! :)

Dan said...

Hey Rianna! I was wondering how to send you a PM. Please tell me how.

Bevlion said...

This is one interesting post on a very popular and beautiful movie. I especially liked your section describing "The Baroness," [Eleanor Parker]. Playing a "light heavy," she put the cherry on top of the dessert. I just completed and uploaded an entire website dedicated to this extraordinary actress at, and hope you'll visit as well. If you permit me, I'd like to make mention of your site when I'm ready to make my section dedicated to the SOM sometime soon. Thank you for a most interesting read.

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