Climbing the Alps is Easy, and Other Life Lessons from “The Sound of Music”

It’s been a raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens kind of week around Hannah HQ. Before my sister Cricket left our hometown to spend her summer in DC, she and I watched the classic 1965 version of “The Sound of Music”, and then a few days later, after years of begging, my best friend Ophelia finally let me view her eighth grade performance of the show, in which she played Mother Abbess. Both, I must say, were sublime. Throughout my childhood, I probably watched “The Sound of Music” once a month. I knew all the songs by heart and could pick them out on the piano. This movie, along with another 1960s Julie Andrew musical–“Mary Poppins”–aided my fascination with carpet bags. My first movie crush was either Christopher Plummer in “The Sound of Music” or Kevin Kline in “The Pirates of Penzance”—but that is an entirely different topic for another day. As I relived the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein this past week, I realized that my life has been irrevocably shaped by this movie. Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

1. Nuns are awesome—even the ones that seem mean. According to Cricket, they have classy wallpaper. They are also useful when it comes to automobile sabotage or describing troublesome postulants. We should all take a note from Sister Margaretta and Sister Berthe, because even though they don’t always get along, they pull together when it counts most to thwart the Nazis and sing Maria down the aisle.

Awesomeness personified.

2. If you make it through the Landler without fainting or crying from the tension, your heart is a silver white winter that will never melt into spring.  Clearly, the Captain and Maria fall in love much earlier in the movie, but they can’t say it because FEELINGS. In the most romantic dance of all time (of all time, I tell you!), it becomes delightfully obvious, and becomes one of my favorite things to remember when the bee stings.

*sigh*

3. Everyone is either a nun, a Von Trapp child or a marionette. Example: I am Gretl because I get weird injuries and flail in water; my mother is the Mother marionette in the purple hat. Cricket is Brigitta—the reading and walking thing is so her. And Ophelia is obviously Mother Abbess. She’s got the whole metaphorical pep talk at a crucial juncture thing down. But there is a character for everyone to root for in this story.

My mother, the marionette.

4. If two or more girls watch “The Sound of Music” together, a discussion of Captain Von Trapp’s attractive qualities will take place. Although Austrian, he is a true American hero. Yes, I know Christopher Plummer is Canadian. But the parallels between Captain Von Trapp and Captain America cannot be denied. They both long for the old, uncomplicated world they knew, despise Nazis, and face down young whippersnappers with authority and confidence. Cricket observed these similarities during the graveyard stand-off between Rolf and Captain Von Trapp, remarking, “In the words of Captain America, ‘Son, just don’t.’” She was absolutely right.

Rolf, I will STARE YOU DOWN.

The similarities are striking.

5. If given the chance, I would dress like a postulant/governess in the 1930s. Except that hat from “I Have Confidence”. Because while that song is my favorite, that hat is a no. But seriously, I would wear all of her clothes. They look really comfortable, and are so pretty. Also—THAT WEDDING DRESS. The veil! The sleeves! The train! LOVE.

I would wear this dress all.the.time.

I’m glad you have confidence, Maria, but we need to get rid of that hat.

Bride? Maria, you’re doing it right.

6. There are two types of people to hate in this movie—1) the Nazis and 2) the Baroness. The Nazis are obvious, the Baroness less so. She might be a more sympathetic character if she didn’t basically make Maria feel like a terrible person for falling in love with the Captain, so much so that she had to have A NUN explain love to her. When watching with Cricket, I started referring to her as Bitchface McFlounce because jealous bitches are jealous. Also, her ideas for a wedding present are terrible. A yacht? A fountain pen? Clearly, our man Georg would prefer a cycling trip to Italy and a Shetland pony named Wilhelm Snuffles von Pferd. The man is sensitive and adventurous like that.

She crushes dreams with her diamonds. She clearly knows nothing about climbing mountains.

7. Things you find hilarious as a child are still funny 15 years later. Like Kurt ringing the church bells. Or wondering what grass tastes like. Or the entire scene involving pink lemonade. And also this lady. She’s just the best.

Fraulein Schweiger+Max Detweiler=National Treasures.

8. Some questions in “The Sound of Music” (and life) are never answered. For example, did Marta get a pink parasol for her seventh birthday on Tuesday? Is it really so easy to rip a Nazi flag in two? And who are all those people at the wedding? Maria is an orphan, and Christopher Plummer hates everyone. Also, who was the Captain’s best man? Was it Max? Would we know if the movie were widescreen?
9. Climbing a mountain is just as easy as do-re-mi. I used to think that climbing mountains was fun and easy because of the end scene. And that you could do it in heels. This is untrue. But boy, does it look like fun! And because I’m Gretl, I’d get to be carried. That means I be cool no matter what shoes I’m wearing. And because I’d climb every mountain, and ford every stream, I’d get to find my dream of going on “The Sound of Music” sing-a-long tour of Salzburg with all my friends. Who knows—maybe there’s a sea captain there who needs a singing governess for his seven children. The clothes alone are worth it.

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