“The Sound Of Music”: Mock Recap (Part V)

Welcome to the grand finale of the epic and endless saga that is “The Sound Of Music”. Make sure you’re up to date by reading the first four parts (Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV). Now that you’re done, let’s wrap this up!

The camera drops back down from the views of Austrian countryside to the plaza outside of the cathedral where Maria and the Captain just got married. Everything is exactly as we remember: the well known cathedral, the good old plaza, the huge Nazi flag with a swastika swinging down from a building. Wait, what? I don’t remember that flag being there just a second ago! What sort of witchcraft is this?! Oh, I see, this must be some weeks later. Smooth transition, movie, very smooth.

Through a crowd of marching soldiers a black convertible makes its way to an amphitheatre. Zeller and an unknown Nazi dude get out of the car and walk inside. In the amphitheatre are the Von Trapp children and Uncle Max. Zeller throws a Nazi salute and a “Heil Hitler” at Max and reminds him that he’s now the Gauleiter. Thanks again, movie, for walking us so gently through these transitions.

Also, Reverend Mother is now Batman

Zeller is here because of two things:
  1. He’s upset because the Captain’s house was the only one in the neighbourhood not flying the Nazi flag since the Anschluss. But not to worry, the Nazis have already “taken care” of the flag issue, he assures Max. If I were you I’d get that flag fetish looked at, Zeller. No grown man should be that much into flags.
  2. He wants to know when the Captain will return from his honeymoon. Remember how we saw Maria and Von Trapp leaving on their honeymoon just a while ago? Yeah, me neither.

Zeller assures Max that the festival is still happening tonight and that nothing in Austria has changed. He proves his point by saying “Heil Hitler” yet again, because in Austria it stands for “Nothing has changed”. Incidentally, “Heil Hitler” now constitutes every second sentence out of Zeller’s mouth. Apparently being a Nazi also provokes an onset of Tourette’s in some people.

Uncle Max and the kids briefly discuss the children’s upcoming performance at the festival as The Von Trapp Family Singers. Seems Max has gotten his way. Rolfe approaches, wearing a brown Nazi uniform. He hands a telegram to Liesl to pass onto the Captain as soon as he returns. Rolfe is cold and formal. Liesl suggests he comes by to “deliver the telegram” himself tonight, which is code for “meet me at the gazebo to sing, dance and…that’s about it”. Rolfe tells her he has more important things to do and walks off without looking back.

“More important things” include wearing ugly black caps and being a dick

So, here’s what we’ve learned about the recent developments during these past few minutes:
  1. Nazis have taken over Austria
  2. The Captain and Maria are busy having sex at some undisclosed honeymoon location
  3. Zeller is running the Nazi show in Austria and is still obsessed with flags
  4. Rolfe is still a virgin, but now also a douchebag

Next scene. The Captain walks up to his front door where a Nazi flag now hangs. He yanks the flag down and rips it in half. Now that’s just a waste of good fabric. Do you know how many dresses Maria could’ve made from that?

The children arrive and everybody spends the next few minutes telling everyone else exactly how much they missed them and why. Then the kids drop a bomb by announcing that they will sing at the festival. The Captain sends them off to the terrace so that they don’t have to witness the ass kicking he’s about to give Max. In the middle of the ass kicking that spans across topics like the Von Trapp kids singing in public and the Anschluss Liesl walks in to hand Rolfe’s telegram to the Captain. Von Trapp walks off to read it.

Maria and Liesl have a heart-to-heart in the drawing room. Liesl wants to know what to do when you stop loving someone or he stops loving you, referring to Rolfe. Maria’s insight on the topic is “you cry a little and then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.”. Yes, Maria, it’s common knowledge that every 24 hours we can witness sunrise. What the fuck does it have to do with heartbreak?!

“And if you ever fall down the stairs, you just add two and two together. It will always add up to exactly four!”

Maria and Liesl sing together. The song probably has something to do with the sun, but I’ve stopped listening to Maria’s songs after I’ve realised she’s insane.

Their bonding is interrupted by the grave-looking Captain. Apparently the telegram was an “offer” from Berlin for him to accept a commission in the navy and to report to a naval base tomorrow. He cannot accept this commission, because he hates the Nazis. However, rejecting this “offer” would be suicidal. Thus, the only thing to do is for the whole Von Trapp family to leave Austria. Tonight.

Speaking of tonight – next scene. The whole Von Trapp family is pushing a car out of the manor, without turning the engine on. They want to leave without Franz and Frau Schmidt hearing, to give them plausible deniability in case they get questioned by the Nazis. As the car is leaving the main gate we see Franz looking down at the group with a shady expression. Oh, Franz, you traitor! I hope you didn’t tell anyone about this…(CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE)

“The Sound Of Music”: Mock Recap (Part IV)

Make sure you’re up to date with this musical journey by reading Part I, Part II and Part III before moving on. If you have, excellent! Also – wow, you’ve got some serious stamina. Back to the story…

Several days later we see Baroness Schraeder and the Von Trapp children outside on the veranda. They are playing a game that involves throwing a ball unenthusiastically to each other while shouting out numbers assigned to different people. It’s even less fun than it sounds. The only way the kids can keep themselves mildly amused is by throwing the ball either right past the Baroness (forcing her to go fetch it) or directly into her stomach. The subtle undertone of this scene is: “Baroness Schraeder sucks with children”.

“Think fast…too late!”

After the excruciating “game” is finally over the Baroness walks over to Max and immediately complains about how difficult kids are. We find out that her big plan in case of marriage to the Captain is to send the children off to a boarding school. Considering what we have just witnessed that would actually be the most humane thing she could ever do to them. The kids come over and Max decides to cheer them up by making them sing. He grabs his guitar and strums a few notes to get things started. The children begin singing as if it’s a punishment, which, for the audience, it is. Von Trapp himself comes out and watches as the kids completely lose their will to live and stop singing one by one.

Brigitta wants to know whether Maria is indeed not coming back. The Captain reminds them all that Maria missed the Abbey so much that she had to leave, at least if her note is to be believed. The note, of course, is not to be believed, but Von Trapp has emotional intelligence of amoeba, so he’s happy to leave it at that. The kids keep asking questions about Maria and they’re clearly disappointed that she left. The subtle undertone of this scene is: “The kids are clearly disappointed that Maria left”.

“Let me guess…you’re a bit upset?”

Just when the kids are on the verge of mass suicide the Captain, taking cue from Maria’s notoriously awful timing, announces that they’ll have a new mother – Baroness Schraeder. Interpreting their silent and murderous stares as signs of joy Von Trapp forces them all to give their future mother a kiss. Showing superhuman restraint the kids manage to pretend-kiss the Baroness, instead of for-real-strangle her. The Captain finally catches on that the kids aren’t thrilled about the development. He awkwardly sends them off to play.

In the next scene we see the kids arrive at the Abbey to look for Maria. They have a brief conversation with Sister Margaretta who basically tells them they’ve wasted their time. She says that Maria’s is in seclusion and isn’t seeing anyone. That’s two ways of saying the same thing, Sister Redundancy. Against the children’s shouts of protest she tells them to leave and shuts the gate. Mother Abbess joins Sister Margaretta, who updates her on the kids’ visit. Mother Abbess decides that it’s time for Maria to break her seclusion at last.

Cut to Mother Abbess’ office, later that same day. Reverend Mother calls Maria into her office. Assuming the worst, as everyone always does with Maria, Mother Abbess immediately begins interrogating her as to why she’s been sent back to the Abbey. Maria shocks her by revealing that she’s left of her own accord. They slowly uncover the real reason why Maria left, namely her love for the Captain. Reverend Mother laughs and tells Maria that God believes she’s a moron. Well, not in those words. What she says is is that God would want Maria to explore this love for a man rather than shut herself inside the Abbey. Maria keeps insisting that she wants to stay in the Abbey for good. Mother Abbess has only one tool left in her arsenal to change Maria’s mind. Stop, singing time!

“Lemme break it down for ya, old school style!”

In the song Mother Abbess tells Maria: “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, ’till you find your dream”. Word. It’s nice you’re a whizz with metaphors and all that, but how about thinking for a second? You’re singing to a person who makes clothing out of curtains and thinks mittens are the best thing in life. What if she takes that shit literally? While climbing every mountain and fording every stream is at least theoretically achievable, attempting to chase every rainbow would make Maria finally lose what’s left of her sanity. This is criminally irresponsible advice to give to someone whose mind is one nervous breakdown away from total collapse. God gave you a second freaking chance to keep Maria safe in the Abbey and yet again you send her away. I’m starting to think you get off on this, Reverend Mother.

Later that day the Captain is on the veranda, interrogating the kids as to where they’ve been. They say they went to pick blueberries. He shrewdly points out that it’s too early for blueberries. The children make a retarded attempt to save this by saying they’ve been picking strawberries, but since it was cold they’ve turned blue. Somehow seeing through this clever web of lies the Captain presses on and wants to see the strawberries. The kids claim they ate them. Von Trapp shuts his masterful trap by stating that since the kids have eaten so many berries they’re not going to be served dinner. Check and mate, suckers. (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)

“The Sound Of Music”: Mock Recap (Part III)

If you’re just joining us in reliving the magic of “The Sound Of Music” through words, please make sure to catch up on Part I and Part II first. If you have done so, let’s dive right in.

The Captain and Baroness Schraeder are in the middle of their political discussion when Von Trapp suddenly jerks his head towards the lake. He sees Maria and the children rowing a skiff, while singing. Unbelievably, they are still singing the same freaking song about music notes that they’ve been singing for weeks. These kids are making slower progress than a lobotomised goldfish. Upon seeing the Captain the kids jump up excitedly, yelling “Papa”. The boat starts to rock dangerously. Maria is also shocked into standing up rapidly by the mere sight of Von Trapp. At that moment the boat finally capsizes, sending everyone into the water. How Maria has avoided drowning the children up until now will forever remain a mystery.

Von Trapp orders everyone out of the water and brings out his trusty whistle to help him arrange the kids into a perfectly straight line. He introduces the children and the Baroness to each other. Then he tells the children to go inside the house to immediately change into dry clothes. Maria, rightfully considering herself to be one of the children attempts to go inside as well. The Captain, however, tells her to “stay here, please”. The Baroness walks off to give Von Trapp some privacy for the verbal lashing he’s about to give Maria. The Captain is understandably shocked and disgusted to find out that his children have been running around Salzburg dressed in old drapes like a pack of hobos.

“You made them wear WHAT?!”

The Captain is running on his last drop of patience. Astonishingly, at this very point Maria begins to lecture Von Trapp on parenting, by insisting that he should be more engaged and love his children. The Captain repeatedly implores her to stop telling him how to raise his kids. Maria doesn’t. Demonstrating complete lack of social awareness she somehow figures that being enraged brings the Captain into just the right state of mind to absorb parenting tips from the very woman he’s mad at. I’m sure if Maria ever took the kids to a zoo she’d climb into a tiger cage during feeding hours to point out the “whiskers on kittens” item on her list of favourite things. The conversation ends with Von Trapp telling Maria to pack her bags and return to the Abbey.

Just at that moment we hear faint singing from inside the house. The Captain is bewildered. What is that melodic combination of sounds? What does it mean? He asks what it is, upon which Maria tells him it’s a little something people call “singing”. Von Trapp tries to save face by claiming that he was informed about this “singing” phenomenon all along. He says “Yes, I realize it’s singing, but who is singing?”. Come on buddy, there is a pretty limited number of people in the house, so make an effort to put two and two together! Maria tells him it’s the children singing a song they’ve put together for the Baroness. The Captain runs into the house, probably still unable to figure out what “singing” is actually about.

“What are these demonic symbols?! Get them out of here!”

The children are singing the song that Maria opened the movie with. So they can in fact do more than just sing the music notes out loud. In the middle of their song something clicks in the Captian’s mind and all of a sudden he remembers – ah yes, “singing”, he knows what that is! He joins in, much to everyone’s surprise. Von Trapp and the kids finish the song together and everyone hugs. The Captain chases Maria, who is on her way up the stairs to pack her bags. He says that now he wants her to stay, since she’s brought music back into his life. In a matter of minutes the Captain reverses his decision entirely. Behold, the power of music!

Next scene, another day. We see Maria and the kids put on a puppet show for Uncle Max, the Baroness and the Captain. The show involves a lot of different characters and even more yodelling. Everyone is impressed, especially the Captain. He tells Maria exactly how much he is impressed by saying “very very much”. That’s twice as good as a single “very”! Von Trapp and Maria exchange looks and Baroness Schraeder begins to get jealous. She mockingly asks Maria whether there’s anything she cannot do, to which Maria replies that she wouldn’t make a very good nun. That’s right, it’s hard to make a good nun, or any kind of nun, when Reverend Mother herself tells you to get the hell out of the Abbey.

“I like this nun dress, but do you perhaps have something more drape-based?”

Uncle Max announces that he’s finally found the group he’ll take to the Salzburg Folk Festival. It’s pretty obvious he’s talking about the Von Trapp children, seeing how they’ve just finished yet another successful performance and he was right there. However, for some reason everyone begins to stupidly shout out the names of other choirs and singing bands. Uncle Max decides to give them a not-at-all subtle hint and says that it’s a singing group “all in one family”. The Captain asks whose family that might be. Come on, does any character in this movie have an IQ above a two-digit figure? Uncle Max explains that he’s talking about the Captain’s kids. The Captain rejects the idea and insists that his children will never sing in public.

Next, the children and Maria decide that Von Trapp himself should sing a song. The Captain is uncomfortable with the idea and communicates this eloquently by saying “no” seven times in a row. Maria says she knows he’s been very good a long time ago. The Captain says it was a “very, very, very” long time ago. Three times “very” – the man has a way with words. Finally, under pressure from the kids he caves in and grabs the guitar. The Baroness is becoming annoyed and whispers to Max that if only she knew that everyone in this family communicated exclusively via songs she’d have brought along her harmonica. (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)

“The Sound Of Music”: Mock Recap (Part II)

This is a continuation of my honourable efforts to bring you a faithful recap of the classic musical “The Sound Of Music”. If you haven’t read the beginning of this wonderful adventure into the world of sporadic singing and adults acting like five year olds, here’s the first part. And now, onwards!

Outside of the villa a young guy by the name of Rolfe delivers a seemingly urgent telegram for the Captain to the butler (Franz). They exchange some shady looks and talk cryptically about “developments”. They know something we don’t…what is it? Oh, the suspense! Inside Franz delivers the telegram to Von Trapp who then announces to the kids that he’s leaving to Vienna ASAP tomorrow. He’s going to see some Baroness Schraeder there and the kids are as happy about this development as they are about their daily marching exercises. It seems the Captain has been visiting this Baroness in Vienna plenty of times before. Love (or a sham marriage) is in the air?

The Captain further announces that this time he’s bringing the Baroness back with him to meet the children, which is probably a badly concealed threat of sorts. The upside seems to be that a fellow known only as Uncle Max will be joining. Judging from the kids’ reactions this “Max” character must be a clown-magician-superhero wrapped in candy floss, as they can hardly contain their excitement at the news. We see Liesl (the oldest daughter whose name rhymes with “weasel”) quietly sneak outside during this dinner conversation. There are enough dodgy things happening in these past few minutes of the movie to spawn at least a dozen conspiracy theories.

Everyone knows that Americans never landed a man on the moon…it was a cybernetically-enhanced alien clone!

Next we’re treated to an outside scene again, where Liesl finds Rolfe waiting with his bicycle by a gazebo. They embrace passionately, but Rolfe thinks that’s too much and insist that they shouldn’t. That’s right Rolfe, you wouldn’t want to get her pregnant with those hugs! Rolfe tells Liesl he missed her so much that he considered sending her a telegram just so that he could deliver it. Stupid move, because Liesl now wants him to “send her a telegram” right away while they’re there. And no, it’s not a bad euphemism for sex. Liesl literally wants him to pretend he’d just sent her a telegram and read it out loud to her. Rolfe, obviously, tells her she’s being insane since they can instead have one of those “conversation” things, like normal people. Except no, Rolfe doesn’t say that at all and proceeds to read out this imaginary telegram to Liesl.

After having fun reading telegrams to each other Rolfe mentions to Liesl that her father should be careful. The Captain is apparently too “Austrian” for his own good and since many people believe Austrians should be Germans instead, he may get into trouble. Aha, subtly handled reference to political climate of the late 1930s. Then Rolfe insist that he’s worried about Liesl, since she’s so young. Liesl fires back saying that she’s actually soon 17. Sounds like a serious discussion brewing up, which of course means it’s time for a song again.

The song ends up being about how Liesl is young and Rolfe is one year older so he should be taking care of her. The couple’s singing is accompanied by an elaborate dance around and inside of the gazebo. This has to be the most well choreographed courtship ritual ever documented. A few times the lovers get very close to kissing, but no, no they don’t. Then they almost do, but then they don’t. And finally, just when we’re about to scream “for God’s sake, send her a freaking telegram already!” Rolfe gives Liesl a…quick peck on the lips. Congratulations, viewer, you have now witnessed the most anti-climatic moment in movie history. Liesl, however, is overjoyed. Rolfe leaves. Who knows, maybe next time he’ll do something wild, like touching her hair.

That bear is getting more action than Liesl can ever dream of

Inside the manor Frau Schmidt brings Maria some material for her new clothes. Maria asks for more material so that she can make some “play clothes” for the children too, instead of the uniforms they currently wear. Frau Schmidt says that won’t happen since children are living by strict rules ever since their mother passed away. Then, on an entirely unrelated note Frau Schmidt tells Maria that there will be new drapes hung up at her window soon, in place of the old ones already there. Old drapes made of fabric, which are no longer needed. Fabric drapes. Fabric is good for making clothes. Remember, this is completely unrelated to the discussion they’ve just had about clothes-making. Spoiler: the two discussions are totally related!

As Frau Schmidt leaves the room she mentions that the Captain is very likely to marry Baroness Schraeder soonish. Maria interprets this as a sign that her mission from God in this house is to prepare kids for a new mother. Maria promptly begins to pray and asks God to bless everybody whose names she can recall. While she’s kneeling by her bed and praying Liesl climbs in through the window into Maria’s room. Liesl is soaking wet because a thunderstorm has started outside. During a brief exchange Liesl admits to Maria that she hasn’t been outside on her own. Maria suggest they wash Liesl’s dress so that there are no signs of her evening adventures the next day. Liesl appreciates the gesture and tells Maria she may need a governess after all (if only to cover her tracks every time she’s out dancing and getting imaginary telegrams from Rolfe).  Then Liesl goes into the bathroom to soak her dress. (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)

“The Sound Of Music”: Mock Recap (Part I)

“The Sound Of Music” was one of those classic musicals that everyone “must watch”, yet I’ve managed to miss out on. Remember, I grew up in Ukraine, behind the Iron Curtain. Sounds of music were not high on the agenda, unless they were the National Anthem of the Soviet Union.

Around one year ago my girlfriend found out about this missing entry in my film database and decided to correct the error. A DVD has been hastily bought by her and just as hastily placed on the “to watch in a distant future” shelf by me. Yesterday that “distant future” had finally arrived and I sat down to watch the entire movie.

Now, equipped with expert insights into this musical treat I bring you a synopsis of “The Sound Of Music”. Please note, this recap is detailed and can substitute watching the movie. As such, it not only contains SPOILERS, it essentially gives away the entire plot. If you haven’t watched the movie and want to experience it for yourself – STOP reading right now. There’s no going back afterwards, since memory-erasing technologies have not yet been perfected, sadly.

Also, if you have watched the movie, loved every bit of it and want to one day revisit its magic, you may want to avoid reading further. This recap may colour your perception and you will never be able to look at “The Sound Of Music” the way you have before. If you’re still reading, let’s go!

Dancing in the fields – Austria’s favourite pastime of the 1930s

The movie opens with helicopter shots of the Austrian Alps. Pay attention, careful viewer/reader, these mountains will be important later. After about five minutes of vague hints of distant music and camera panning across mountain ranges, hills and buildings we finally stumble upon a woman in the meadows. She’s alone, she’s dancing, singing and twirling wildly. Meet Maria – our protagonist. Through the first line of her song we learn that “the hills are alive with the sound of music”, as far as she’s concerned. Way to use the freaking punchline in the opening sentence, movie!

As she continues her singing we learn that Maria likes to personify inanimate objects and use elaborate metaphors to describe how she feels. She’s a poet and loves nature and life with all her heart. Also, she’s acting like a five year old. Suddenly, we hear church bells toll in the distance. Maria stops singing, her face turns into a mask of confused panic, she grabs her head with both hands in a needlessly exaggerated “oh my God, not again!” gesture and starts running off towards the city. Then she realises she’s forgotten something and runs back to pick up a headpiece she’d apparently dropped earlier. So now we know that Maria is absent minded, infantile and excessively emotional. The movie can start.

The title sequence helpfully tells us that we’re in Salzburg during the last Golden Days of the Thirties. Thank you, oh informative text. Then we’re in “The Abbey” watching nuns singing in Latin and performing rituals in a chapel. After they’re done and leave the chapel we learn that Maria is missing from the Abbey…again. Aha! The elderly and wise Reverend Mother (Mother Abbess) starts asking the other nuns what they think of Maria. Everyone has mixed feelings about her, but the general consensus seems to be that although she’s a kind soul and a genuinely good person she’s also completely unprepared for a responsible adult life.

Since this is a musical, instead of sitting down and discussing this issue the nuns break out into a song about Maria. Here they ask a pertinent question: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”. Then, instead of finding solutions they proceed to repeatedly and unhelpfully describe Maria as a “flibbertigibbet” and a “will-o’-the-wisp” (both words mean little or nothing to a modern audience). One nun insists that Maria is a “clown”, which is probably a bit harsh.

Above: Not a good approximation of Maria. Except for the wildly swinging arms – those are spot on actually.

Later on Mother Abbess invites Maria into her office for a talk. Maria admits that she couldn’t control herself and only ran away because the gates were open and the hills were calling her. Hmmm, it appears that it really doesn’t take much for Maria to lose her mind and any concept of responsibility. She insists she wants to become one of the nuns and is working hard on it (that is if you consider repeatedly running away to sing in the fields as “working hard”). Mother Abbess finally tells Maria that God wants her to temporarily leave the Abbey so that she can find herself, probably because it’s easier to use God as an excuse instead of just telling Maria that they’re all tired of her crazy antics.

And so the Reverend Mother sends Maria off to be a governess and…take care of seven children! Wait a second, didn’t you just spend the entire start of the movie showing us that Maria is incapable of keeping a constructive thought in her head for longer than a second? Maria finds herself incapable of attending to her nun duties as soon as hills and natural phenomena “beckon” her to join them. What I’m saying is, we can’t trust Maria to tie her own shoelaces. How is she supposed to take care of not one, but seven freaking children?! Nice call, Reverend Mother! Instead of keeping Maria in the convent, which would have been the only responsible thing to do to protect her and others from her immature behaviour, you send her off to act as an authority figure for a bunch of kids she has never met.

“Guess what kids? You’re all doomed!”

The father of the seven children is Captain Von Trapp – a retired officer of the Imperial Navy, whose wife died some years ago. As we will soon learn he is obsessed with order and discipline and treats his kids as a bunch of army recruits. I don’t see how the “let’s get Maria to take care of his children” experiment could possibly fail, do you? (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)