Today marks the 50th anniversary of arguably one of the best musicals of all time – The Sound of Music. For those unfamiliar with the film, it tells the story of a young nun (Julie Andrews) who becomes the governess of a troupe of troublesome Austrian children, hell-bent on torturing everyone employed to keep them in line. They’ve got authority issues, what with their daddy being a an authoritarian loon who tries to control his offspring using military whistles and the like. So they rebel, but they’re no match for our wiley nun (she’s a troublemaker herself, you see) and she wins them all over by making them frocks out of curtains and singing about brown paper and streudel. She’s unorthodox. As she wins over the children, so she does the stern papa, who sees through her short hair and unreserved manner, to the beautiful woman she is inside. Oh, and there’s loads of Nazis.
Musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but by and large TSoM is held in high regard – not least because of it’s contextual heft. Sandwiched between songs about singing, growing up and hallucinating on a hillside lurks the very real threat of Nazism. Julie Andrews is also a delight – and the film carries added pathos, knowing that Andrews would later lose her crystalline singing voice. Obviously, the best parts of the film, however, are the songs – written by Rodgers & Hammerstein – and we’ve chosen our top 5 for you.
5. So Long, Farewell
Children are notoriously good at delaying the moment they have to go to bed. Usually this involves some sort of tantrum and demands for drinks/snacks/cuddles/stories. These kids take an altogether different approach, performing a little ditty for the assembled guests of their dad’s party. It only buys them an extra couple of minutes, but it’s a good effort.
4. Sixteen, Going on Seventeen
Liesl Von Trapp is 16. Her baby-faced messenger boyfriend, Rolf, is 18. He thinks she’s too young for him. She proves her maturity by singing and prancing around the garden pagoda. He seems to enjoy it. But he’s a disloyal Nazi who tries to have her father killed, so she really shouldn’t have made the effort.
3. Do Re Mi
Julie Andrews makes the children some clothes from old curtains, and forces them to parade around the city, singing a song about singing. Pops Austria later gets cranky about the aforementioned curtain frocks – he’s rich, you see. He can afford nice fabrics and wants his children to be dressed in only the very best. He’ll appreciate Maria’s thrifty approach later, when the Nazis steal all of his gold.
2. My Favourite Things
Schnitzel and noodles; brown paper packages tied up with string; whiskers on kittens. It’s the song equivalent of a big hug.
1. The Sound of Music
This has to take the number one spot – it’s where Maria really lets herself go, talking to mountains and frolicking in the grass. She just makes singing look so important. Because if you can sing, you can do anything . Including outwitting the Nazis, which she later does. By pretending she, the children and the cranky Austrian are a choir. You see? IMPORTANT.