And I’ll sing once more.
I hope everyone was able to watch and enjoy Mary Poppins. Special shout out to one of the opening lines in the movie, “Though we adore men, individually, we agree that as a group, they’re rather stupid.” Preach!
My love affair with on-screen Julie Andrews continues as I want to share some thoughts about The Sound of Music. For me, The Sound of Music is not only a perfect movie, it is THE perfect movie. If you take all of the story elements and simply let the movie play out like that, without the music, it would be a powerful piece of cinema. The fact that there is so much music added on top of it astounds me. They are not only rewarding and hummable tunes, they elevate the storytelling in the movie.
At its core, much like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music is a movie about redemption, reconciliation, and transformation. The number of characters that receive true and meaningful arcs is truly a feat of the film, but perhaps the most impressive part is the portion that is brilliantly and creatively underplayed, that of standing up for what is right. Some may say that this is not so subtle, but remember how you might have seen this film as a child. Much like Mary Poppins, this movie works on all levels for all ages. If this movie has stayed with you through a significant portion of your life, I am sure there was a moment where “Edelweiss” transformed from a pretty tune into that of an incredibly bittersweet song.
In my devotion about Mary Poppins, I spoke about how hearing life lessons through song often reaches one’s heart in a way that strictly verbal lectures cannot. Verbal lectures are for the brain. It is only through our experiences that ideas presented to us through lecture can make their way to the heart. This is what makes music so palpable. Music creates an immediate connection from the brain to the heart, and in those moments, vulnerability is present in a way rarely available. This is represented perfectly by the scene where Maria and Captain von Trapp begin arguing after the children return home (wearing drapes as “play” clothes). This argument represents everything that Captain van Trapp refuses to acknowledge in his life. There is a correlation for us too. We know these arguments. We know these arguments where it is not about one side being wrong, it is about one side, possibly both, not acknowledging that which they already know, but they cannot let it out. The pain is too much. More specifically, the pain that they are carrying is too much. What follows is one of the greatest cinematic examples of character transformation. Captain van Trapp hears singing, and from the moment he begins to understand that it is the children who are singing to the moment you hear him join in the singing, you are watching a character’s heart melt on screen. This is the vulnerability I speak of. Even the children are so moved that they stop singing for a moment, needing to be sure that the person before them really is their father as they have always wanted to know him. Then their hearts fill, and they join their father in song. I understand that movies heighten reality and emotions, and that is the point. So does music with or without film. That is why music works as an experiential moment to bridge the mind and the heart. Properly married visuals only add to the experience. Watch this scene play out, and then come back to the devotional. Unfortunately, YouTube has the scene divided into two clips, so you will have to watch them back to back.
This one scene really only scratches the surface as to why The Sound of Music is the perfect film. I hope that you will take time to watch it over the next week. Again, try and do so with others in your household, or email me as you watch the movie. Much like Mary Poppins, the fact that it has been around for as long as it has means that it has paid off in substantial, rewarding dividends in most people’s lives. I am going to talk about that next week, how important it is to have art, in all of its mediums, bringing you residual joy through many years. Until then, know that I have confidence in you, that many of my favorite things are here at First Pres, and that our hearts will be blessed with the sound of music, and we’ll sing once more.