The UnPopular Opinion: The Sound of Music

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

As we approach the Spring holidays of Easter and Passover, there are films that have become synonymous with the season of celebration. No, I am not talking about THE TEN COMMANDMENTS or THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, but instead THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Yeah, that's right, THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Somehow, a film about escaping the tyrannical rule of Nazis using only the power of love and song has become a film broadcast annually during both Easter as well as Christmas. While the film shares no narrative connection to the holidays, networks have found the harmless family viewing of a film from the director of THE HAUNTING (Robert Wise) and the musical talents of Rodgers and Hammerstein would make for the best way to share a religious celebration with your loved ones. The problem is that this universally beloved movie is really quite bad.

Nevermind the fact that THE SOUND OF MUSIC usurped GONE WITH THE WIND as the highest grossing film of all time and held that title for 5 years. Disregard the fact that it won five Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1965. Also, forget about the fact that it ranked as the 55th Greatest Film of All Time by the American Film Institute. When it was originally released, THE SOUND OF MUSIC was not universally acclaimed by critics as it was by fans and in hindsight only has become an iconic film. But, if you sit down and watch THE SOUND OF MUSIC, there really isn't much depth to the tale aside from the memorable songs that have become part of film and musical history. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is overlong and overly saccharine in a way that makes even the cheesiest musical look dramatic and nuanced.

The Sound of Music, Musical, Drama, The UnPopular Opinion, Christopher Plummer, julie andrews

Clocking in at just barely under three hours, THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a film that is easier to say is good than believe it. Unlike CITIZEN KANE, CASABLANCA, or any of the countless of classic films from before 1970, THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a movie that is iconic and recognizable enough that most claim to remember it vividly when they really just recall the most clipped and quoted moments from the film. In between those scenes, THE SOUND OF MUSIC is one of the most cliche and silly movies ever made and compared to musicals released in the same era, it smacks of sentimentality and poor writing. Even though it featured the direction from the man who helmed WEST SIDE STORY and the talent of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, THE SOUND OF MUSIC not only doesnt make logistical sense, but it showcases some of the worst acting of all time.

Christopher Plummer has long spoken negatively of filming THE SOUND OF MUSIC and rumors say he had to drink heavily before filming his scenes. Even watching the movie today, it is hard not to feel the rigidity of Plummer's performance as compared to Julie Andrews' overly sweet take on Maria Von Trapp. The common practice of dubbing experienced singers over actors with less than stellar vocal ranges is apparent and pulls you out of the film experience. But, nothing is as awful as the child actors. Looking at movies like MARY POPPINS, which employed two children who appeared in a lot of the movie, THE SOUND OF MUSIC has a cast of young performers who are so wooden and unconvincing that it is virtually impossible to suspend your disbelief that any of this is realistic. Filmmaking has changed over the years but bad acting is still bad acting and almost everyone aside from Julie Andrews does a pisspoor job in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

Then there is the fact that this story is so fictionalized that the real Maria Von Trapp took umbridge with Robert Wise's creative decisions. While the film was shot on location, which gives a scale and grand appearance to the Austrian countryside, narratively it makes little sense. The sequence of the Von Trapp family crossing into Switzerland is dramatic but if you look at a map, it is also impossible based on where they cross in the film. You may look at that and consider it a nitpick, but when you take a critical look at the film it doesn't take much to start unravelling the countless shortcomings of the movie.

The biggest of which is the fact that THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a film about romance and happiness set during the rise of the worst evil that modern civilization has ever known. Yeah, this is a movie about the rising Third Reich and we are supposed to enjoy songs about teen love? Granted, THE SOUND OF MUSIC is meant to be escapist entertainment and it succeeds in that, but it doesn't do much more. As a stage production, Robert Wise's film is an achievement. But, outside of the cinematography, this is a failure as a feature film. The stakes of survival never feel tangible and the progression of the plot feels like it is on automatic regardless of whether the drama is earned. Overall, the film never feels like it was built for anyone to really look deeply at it which is why it is so confusing as to why it is so beloved to this day.

The Sound of Music, Musical, Drama, The UnPopular Opinion, Christopher Plummer, julie andrews

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a film that should be a sing-a-long classic like THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and not the recipient of the highest Academy Awards honor of Best Picture. If it were released today, it would be a box office bomb of the highest order. Maybe being released in the era of tumultous civil rights activity and assassinated leaders allowed it to work as a ray of positivity on an otherwise depressed nation, but aside from that it is far from being one of the greatest movies ever made. I respect the filmmaking talent that went into lensing this movie, but beyond that it is undeserving of anything more. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is the safest movie ever made and take absolutely no chances with doing anything original in terms of story or acting. Safe doesn't always mean something is bad, but in the case of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, it absolutely does.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected] or spell it out in the comments below. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

5932 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.