Previous Joints

Friday, 15 March 2013

Family and The Sound of Music

I write a lot about my late father and that’s because a lot of my tastes, not only in film, but music and television shows stem from him. My father had an eclectic cultural pallet; my earliest happy memory is of him playing me Bob Marley’s Stir it Up - but I also remember him constantly playing Kenny Rodgers.

But my mother has influenced on my love of film. I can only think of one film that my mum cares about and that’s the focus of this post – The Sound of Music.

If there was one thing you could depend on at Christmas is the fact that The Sound of Music would be on the telly. Our whole family would be gathered around the TV to watch the musical whether I liked it or not. I protested, but looking back now, once the hills appeared on the screen, I didn’t complain much.

You could depend on The Sound of Music being on at Christmas until you couldn’t depend on it anymore. And after noticing that we hadn’t watched it for a couple of years, I decided to buy it for my mum on DVD for Christmas.

We might be down a member in our family, but I make sure that during the Christmas period I sit down with my mum and watch a film that feels like part our family.

It’s stupid doing a summary of The Sound of Music, but here is one anyway. It’s about a young misbehaving nun, who is sent to a large estate house of a military commander to look after his 22 (it could be 12, or 7) children. Chaos and hilarity ensues.

I don’t want to get bogged down into a serious deconstruction of The Sound of Music, but I would just say there are some deep things bubbling underneath the surface of this film. As I discovered in my days as a drama student, a lot of these musicals in the 50s and 60s (stage or films) have some sort of social commentary laced within their make up.

Watching this film with older eyes, I realised that I missed the compelling way they told the story of the Nazi invasion of Austria. It’s actually pretty sinister and unnerving the way the subject matter creeps into the film. It’s still damn right heartbreaking to see how various characters deal with Nazism.

What makes this film special though, to my mind, is the unadulterated joy present throughout it. Every shot, every set piece and every song feels masterly and just makes you smile. You appreciate it throughout the years because you know that the film makers gave a damn about this film.

To this day, the landscape shots are utterly awe-inspiring. Jaw droppingly so.

But yes, it’s the music that has made this film what it is – and I love it. This is coming from a Dr Dre fan. This statement does nothing for my name in the streets.

Importantly, for me, the music doesn’t feel out of place among the dialogue. It’s not telegraphed (if you know what I mean) and that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t like many musicals.

Who I'm I kidding, I love musicals.

Again, there is joy in the music which many stage shows and movies find hard to recreate. If the first tune doesn’t get you, it’s highly likely that many of the others within the film will. My personal favourite is Edelweiss– it’s hauntingly beautiful (I’m still gangster, don’t get it twisted).

I’m thankful to this film and the memories it has provided me. There’s a little bit of sadness now when I watch this film with my ma. But we still smile, still laugh and still sing along to the all too familiar scenes.

I can’t wait to introduce this film to my little girl.