At a time when headlines blare what once seemed inconceivable news, the cacophony is enough to send so many of us searching for the sounds of peace. Of quiet. Of simply a silence to the awful noise.
On a recent evening when just one more newscast was one too many, B. and I looked at each other with the slightly glazed eyes of people who have seen just too much of something that was, well, just too much. Scrolling through the TV listings only seemed to offer more of the same old, same old. We wanted something familiar but not boring; distracting but not creepy; hopeful but not heavy. Or anything Marx Brothers. We were about to call it a night because there was nothing that fit the bill – not a hint of Groucho or Harpo in sight – when suddenly, there it was. The Sound of Music.
I know, I know. You can call it sappy. You can wince at the fact that it’s a musical. And you can run screaming from the room because the idea of just-short-of-three hours of a singing family is too much to contemplate (don’t think that all of those thoughts didn’t enter our minds). But something told us to give it a chance and let this classic that we’ve seen so many times before (including the first time for each of us, as seven-year-olds, when we saw it in the same neighborhood theater without even having met each other yet) work its magic once more.
And you know what? It did. First of all, Julie Andrews is a treasure. She of the utterly beautiful voice brought a sweetness, an innocence, and just the right amount of sass to the role of Maria. And have I mentioned her soaring, glorious voice? Then, of course, there is Christopher Plummer (my very first crush – shh, don’t tell B.). Handsome, strong, and redeemed by said Maria to love again, Plummer as Captain von Trapp found his heart (of gold) again thanks to her and to – wait for it – the sound of music. And finally, the children – their voices creating gorgeous melodies and harmonies that sounded joyful, both to our ears and our hearts.
Go ahead, say it, it’s time to cue the violins. But hear me out. The score to that movie – including classics like Do-Re-Me; So Long, Farewell (are you kidding me about the cuteness factor of little Gretl?); Sixteen Going on Seventeen; My Favorite Things; Something Good (what an incredibly touching duet with passion just beneath the surface) – was like a soothing balm to what ailed us that evening. Just hearing Christopher Plummer sing and strum Edelweiss was enough to evoke healing tears.
Of course, the story behind the movie – about how the von Trapp family escaped the terrors of wartime Austria – is a compelling and harrowing one. But escape they did, and that kind of happy ending – seeing them crossing the Alps – while obviously romanticized somewhat for the big screen, was the note of hope we longed for as a nighttime lullaby.
Would listening to great music on its own have done it? Possibly, but we needed the visual fairy tale-esqueness of this love story set in the midst of turmoil to really make a difference that evening.
After all these years, the movie holds its own – art that transports, transforms, and transcends.
Some of my favorite things.
©2022 Claudia Grossman