In the next scene we see Maria leaving the convent. She is hesitant at first, but then decides that “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”. I never knew that God was obsessive-compulsive about the number of opened and closed house entry points, but I hadn’t read the Bible in that much detail. As Maria makes her way across the city she’s wondering how things will turn out and whether she’ll have sufficient courage to face the challenges of being a governess for seven kids. These are all very legitimate worries, especially considering what we know about Maria’s mental state. Of course, since she can’t just keep her thoughts to herself like regular people do, she turns all of these concerns into a full-fledged song that she sings all the way to the Captain’s manor.
At the manor she is greeted and let inside by a dull butler, who points to a chair and tells Maria to “wait here, please”. This is a very direct and clear request, if not an outright order, judging by the butler’s somewhat rude behaviour. Alas, Maria is unable to follow even these simple instructions and immediately wanders off across the hall and into a ballroom, the door to which was originally closed. Now that’s just poor manners, Maria! You’re inside a complete stranger’s house and you’ve been asked to sit down and wait for just one freaking moment. Was that too much to handle?
In the ballroom Maria proceeds to dance with an imaginary person. Just when she’s about to really get into the dance (and maybe even start singing again) Captain Von Trapp himself suddenly appears in the doorway. Following an awkward pause, during which Maria looks like a deer facing a bazooka, she hurries out of the ballroom. The Captain tells her to watch herself in the future and then proceeds to scrutinize her general appearance and clothes. He’s not pleased and tells her he’ll get her some material ASAP so that she can make herself some new outfits. Then he informs her that she’s the twelfth governess they’ve had since his wife’s passing. Oh ooooooh. Maria is told that Captain’s children are to follow a strict daily routine, which involves studying, marching and generally not doing anything that can be considered remotely entertaining.
Then the Captain takes out a whistle and blows it. Six kids come out of their rooms wearing matching uniforms. They arrange themselves by age and march downstairs in unison. Here they stand at attention in a single line and are joined by the missing seventh kid – a girl whose face is buried in a book. The Captain takes the book away and nudges the girl into the line. He then demonstrates how well trained his kids are by making them step out and announce their names one by one as he blows different whistle signals. This guy is all kinds of fun!
Von Trapp gets into a minor argument with Maria, who articulates her first sane thought of the movie when she tells him that whistles are perhaps acceptable for animals, but not human beings. The Captain leaves Maria to bond with the kids. She impresses them with having remembered all of their names. This is indeed impressive when you take into account that Maria has the attention span of a moth. Maria seems to have established a bond with each of the kids by being nice and paying attention to what they say. Then the housekeeper, Frau Schmidt, walks in and tells the children to go outside for their daily walk. Maria is escorted to her room by the housekeeper. As she’s walking upstairs Maria reaches into her pocket, then screams and flails her arms wildly when she finds a frog there (one of the children must’ve slipped it in earlier). The kids watch the spectacle and then go outside. Bonding unsuccessful!
Later in the evening Maria joins the family for dinner. She’s about to take her seat, but jumps up and screams as she tries to sit down. We (the audience) see that the kids have placed a huge pine cone on her chair. When I was a kid this prank usually involved a tiny pin, not a giant fucking pine cone. Maria’s attention to detail is worse than her sense of reality.
Maria forces the whole family to say grace before they start their meal. And then, out of the blue, Maria performs a magnificently clever trick. She thanks the kids for the “gift” they gave her earlier. She’s of course referring to the frog in her pocket, but the Captain is not privy to this event. Maria says: “…knowing how important it was for me to feel accepted, it was so kind and thoughtful of you to make my first moments here so warm and happy and pleasant”. She’s of course really saying “I’ve tried to be nice, but you didn’t play along. However, notice how instead of selling you out to your dad I’m making all of you look good in front of him by thanking you for the “gift”?”. Maria, you brilliant genius you – this is a pretty damn masterful guilt-trip strategy! Did the hills and the meadows tell you about it?
All of the kids begin to sob uncontrollably. This is either because Maria’s approach actually worked or because the kids are now convinced she’s going to murder them in their sleep later. Hard to tell.
To continue this wondrous journey, follow the link to part II.
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