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Sound of Music

In: Film and Music

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Research Paper: The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is an American Musical Film. Being released in 1965 The Sound of Music was directed and produced by Robert Wise, although he was not the first choice, he did indeed proved to be the best. It won five Oscars and it was nominated for another Five (The Sound of Music). Richard Rodgers wrote the music with the lyrics done by Oscar Hammerstein II. Based on the true story of the Von Trapp family, who escaped Nazi-ruled Austria in 1938, this film dominated the 1965 Academy Awards, winning Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Score Adaptation and Editing (The Sound of Music (1965)).
The Sound of Music is based on a true story. At the end of the 1920s Maria moved into the house of Captain von Trapp to work as governess to his 6 children. After a year, they got married and added another 2 children to their family circle. Von Trapp was a highly decorated World War I veteran and a widower with 7 children, living in Salzburg. Because of an unfortunate financial crisis, Maria started to arrange concerts with the children singing, making a family hobby to a profession.
In 1938 when Austria was affiliated by Hitler Germany, Captain von Trapp refused to join Hitler's army. The family had to flee. According to Actlingua, they packed with only their Rucksacks they left all their fortune and belongings behind them and crossed the Alps heading for Italy (The Sound of Music - The Trapp Family). In 1938, they arrived in New York with no money and Maria pregnant. Starting there with no money and without being known, they soon managed to reach national popularity. They had to return to Europe once more before they managed to get permanent residence in the states, where the family kept touring. In 1941, they purchased a large farm in Vermont, mostly because the landscape reminded them of the beloved Austrian Alps. It was Maria who wrote and published the family's story (The Sound of Music - The Trapp Family).
During the 1965 film, The lead character, governess Maria, was played by Julie Andrews, who started out as a Broadway actress, but gained international fame by her roles in ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ (Weber). Dame Julie Elizabeth Andrews, DBE (born 1 October 1935) is an English film and stage actress, singer, author, theatre director, and dancer. She is the recipient of Academy Award, Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, Grammy Award, BAFTA, People's Choice Award, and Theatre World Award (“Julie Andrews”). In 2000, she was made a Dame for services to the performing arts by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace (“Julie Andrews”).
Another lead character in this film was Captain Von Trapp, otherwise known as Christopher Plummer. Plummer remains one of the most respected and honored actors in the English Language. Plummer remains one of the most respected and honored actors performing in the English language. According to IMBD he has won two Emmy Awards out of six nominations stretching 46 years from 1959 and 2005, and one Genie Award in five nominations from 1980 to 2004. IMBD also stated that for his stage work, Plummer has racked up two Tony Awards on six nominations, the first in 1974 as Best Actor (Musical) for the title role in "Cyrano" and the second in 1997, as Best Actor (Play), in "Barrymore" (Christopher Plummer).
The director of ‘The Sound of Music’, Robert Wise has had an impressive career. He gained fame as an editor for ‘Citizen Kane’. He won his first Oscar as best director for ‘West Side Story’ in 1961, his second as producer when the film also won in the ‘Best Film’ category. His third and fourth Oscar was with ‘The Sound of Music’. In 1988 Wise received the D.W. Griffith award, the highest honor of the Directors Guild of America. Robert Wise passed away in 2005 (NY Times, 2005).
The story takes place in Austria, where retired naval officer Captain von Trapp is looking for a governess for his seven children. Maria is a nun who keeps breaking the rules and is therefore send out of the convent to become von Trapp’s new governess. Maria makes live for the children fun with music and playtime, something they were not used to. Captain von Trapp has at that time a relationship with a wealthy baroness but slowly falls for the quirky Maria. It seems to be a happy ending but when the captain and Maria return from their honeymoon, the captain is called out to join the German army to fight for Nazi Germany. Captain von Trapp is not willing to join the German army so after a musical performance he, Maria and the children escape through the hills to Switzerland. (The Sound Of Music)
The Sound of Music was filmed on location in Salzburg, Austria; the state of Bavaria in Germany and at the 20th Century Fox studios in California, USA. It was photographed in 70mm Todd-AO format by Ted D. McCord (The Sound of Music (film)). The opening scene and aerial shots were filmed in Anif (Anif Palace), Mondsee, and Salzkammergut (Fuschl am See, St. Gilgen and Saint Wolfgang) (The Sound of Music). Hohenwerfen Castle served as the main backdrop for the song "Do-Re-Mi" and at the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Maria and the children sing "Do-Re-Mi", dancing around the horse fountain and using the steps as a musical scale (The Sound of Music).
Within a film there are many resources that come together to both entertain and captivate the audience’s attention, for instance music. When used correctly the music in a movie can express any feeling made by a person or thing to create the atmosphere needed to catch their attention. Rodgers and Hammerstien, the creative duo of The Sound of Music were brilliant at arranging the music to perfectly fit the movie and stage scripts. Their use of changing elements would bring the audience to highs and lows at just the right time to express the feelings of the characters at that exact point in the movie. The texture of their lyrics and instruments throughout The Sound of Music provided difficult layering to what appears to be basic composition in which gave the pieces fullness and life. Rodgers and Hammerstien were also masterminds when it came to the melodies. Who out there has not hummed the tune of “My Favorite Things.” The most unforgettable portion of this movie is the music.
Also, dynamics within a musical production can change the emotion, mood, and the feeling of the whole production even when other elements have been unchanged (Yudkin, J). For example, when watching a familiar scary movie like Nightmare on Elm Street, listen to the music when the climax is present, you hear and extreme fluctuation in the music to give us viewers the ‘que’ that something is going to happen. In the song “My Favorite Things” gives the feeling of power, as Maria tries to comfort the Von Trapp children during the thunderstorm in the middle of the night. The main point of the scene was for the children to not only overcome their feelings of fear during the storm but also their own lives. The song, and the changing aspects within it is giving the “yes I can do it” feeling.
The melodies in the sound of music are very catchy and some of the most memorable in movie and music history. When we look at the movie as a whole it instantly has you singing along. The melody can often be confused with the pitch of the song; but while the melody is the way it moves from note to note, the pitch is the exact level of highness or lowness of the song (Yudkin, J). The melody is what you most remember about the song. Normally the part when you don’t remember the words. The songs in this movie tend to take your breath away. In the song “My Favorite Things” the melody tends to do just that.
Hammerstein and Rodgers struck gold with their creativity for “The Sound of Music.” The story went on to be a huge success in stage production and an even bigger hit on the silver screen. People from almost every country are more than likely familiar with the movie and the music defining it. No matter if the songs are played in English, French, German, polish, etc. the dynamics, textures, and also melodies are the same. These are some of the key elements that hooked the minds of adults and children to the award winning movie. There isn’t a lot of cinema out there that can compare to Maria running to the top of the mountain, with the music building as she raises her arms and just sings out “The hills are alive with the sound of music!”

Works cited
“Christopher Plummer." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013
"Julie Andrews." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2013
"The Sound of Music (1965)." Infoplease. Infoplease, 2007. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.
"The Sound of Music." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013 “The Sound of Music (film)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2013
Weber, Bruce. "Julie Andrews to Return To the New York Stage." Www.nytimes.com. N.p., 28 Oct. 1992. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.
Yudkin, J. (2007). Understanding Music (5th Ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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