The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with and Eleanor Parker. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp is the base of the movie. The musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large Australian family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. With the onset of WWII, he is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy in spite of his opposition to the Nazis. He, Maria and decide to flee from Austria with the children.
The Sound of Music received five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film also received two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress, the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) listed The Sound of Music as the fifty-fifth greatest American movie of all time, and the fourth greatest movie musical. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
An added note:
When setting up for filming of the wedding scene, there was nobody at the altar to wed them when they reached the top of the stairs to the sanctuary. Someone had forgotten to summon the actor playing the bishop. According to Dame Julie Andrews, the real Archbishop of Salzburg is seen in the movie.
I’ve been going to a lot of movies lately. Why? Well, my husband and I now subscribe to one of those movie packages where you pay a monthly fee, and can then attend several movies a week for no additional charge. Although we’re allowed to see three, we’re mostly seeing two, and occasionally just one.
As a writer, I find that fun. I try to analyze each plot, note which ones I like and which ones I don’t. Most of them aren’t documentaries, so even if they’re supposed to be based on a true story they’re generally at least somewhat fiction.
Sometimes we just pick a show that sounds vaguely interesting, but we always hope to jump onto one that sounds a whole lot more—fun, exciting, inspirational, whatever.
And sometimes I get new ideas for my own writing from them. I’ve begun a proposal for a new mystery series which might not go anywhere, but, yes, I was inspired by movies!
I suppose that the fact I live in the Hollywood area also gives me ideas involving films, both novels and, occasionally screenplays—that I never write myself, although I’ve taken classes.
I’m wondering if the theater chains and companies that offer these multiple movies are actually making money. I hope they’re doing well enough to keep it up.
Do you go to movies? Do they inspire you to read or write?
And Happy Holidays to all of you! I’ll have a post here in early 2019. (Wow, that sounds as if it shouldn’t be happening so soon!) And when I do, I’m hoping to have some writing news to convey.
Yesterday my husband and I decided to inaugurate the MoviePass cards our son gave us for Christmas. With one swipe (and $10 a month) we can see as many movies as we like at any theater.
Our first movie would be The Post at our local theater. It took both of us, and the manager, to figure out how to make the card work (which in hindsight should not have been necessary if we understood our phone settings). Finally, we swiped our cards only to find that The Post was sold out. That pushed us to our default selection: any movie that was not sold out. We ended up in a nearly empty theater watching Jumanji, the 20-year-later sequel to Robin William’s wonderful movie by the same name.
Jumanji is a fanciful action-adventure movie about a game that sucks people into an alternate universe and in order to get home, the player must win the game. In William’s version, he was the only one who disappeared. This version has an ensemble cast that includes The Rock, Jack Black and two other actors we weren’t familiar with but who were perfectly cast.
The movie began, the music was ominous, the set up delightful, the locations beautiful and the direction energetic. The kids in the theater reacted with oohs, aahs, and other exclamations of delight.
Oh, wait! That was me oohing and aahing!
Yep, I loved every bit of that movie and when I got home I realized the reason I loved it was because I lost myself in the storytelling. Everyone from the screenwriter to the lighting guy and cast was on board with the creative vision. The premise was quickly and clearly established. Casting was based on character and not on what looks that the producers deemed ‘sexy and salable’. The computer-generated stunts did not overpower the story nor did they last so long that the viewer could literally leave, have dinner and come back and they would still be crashing about on screen. If something fantastic happened – like characters dying and getting shot into space and suddenly falling back to earth again without injury – the viewer accepted it because it quickly became apparent that each piece of this story had a purpose. There was always a payoff that made sense. Threads were wrapped up at the end. The story built to a conclusion and didn’t present it. But better than anything, the actors never broke character. The adult actors were asked to channel their teenage counterparts in the real world that had been left behind. I have seen this transference in movies before but too often the adult actor simply remains an adult. The last time I saw this plot point beautifully executed was in Tom Hanks’s Big.
So, here’s what I want you to do. Before you write another word, before you start editing, go see Jumanji. It is one of the best lessons in pitch-perfect storytelling I’ve had in a very long time. As for me, I’m going back to work and give my manuscript the Jumanji treatment because the devilish details are what make for a heavenly story.
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Iâ€™m a major admirer of writer / director Nora Ephron and also of actress Meryl Streep. So to have the two women team up in a movie about another woman I admire (Julia Child) on a subject that is one of my greatest passions (cooking)…ah, Iâ€™m in movie heaven. Iâ€™m talking about Julie and Julia, of course.
But this isnâ€™t a movie review…today I want to ask, what makes for magic on screen? In a movie, as in a book, you can have two very similar stories, yet one is mediocre while the other steps up to greatness. Whatâ€™s the difference? In a romantic comedy, chemistry is key â€“ Ephronâ€™s Sleepless in Seattle and Youâ€™ve Got Mail teamed Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, whom I think made a great match chemistry-wise. I know lots of people adored When Harry met Sally, but for me, witty as the movie was, the Ryan-Crystal chemistry wasnâ€™t as great. In books, chemistry abounds between so many of Georgette Heyerâ€™s Regency protagonists, while Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a mistress of chemistry on the page in contemporary romances.
Another factor in screen magic is that elusive presence, and thatâ€™s something Streep has in spades. In movies from Silkwood to Heartburn, from Kramer vs. Kramer to Adaptation, Streep fills a screen yet doesnâ€™t make it â€œall about herâ€. Sheer genius.
Lastly, thereâ€™s the need for a story that, though it may be about ordinary lives, transcends the trivial and somehow gets to our hearts. This is what I admire about Ephron. She turns even a light comedy into a great story â€“ and you know itâ€™s a great story when you can watch it four, five, six times and it feels fresh every time.
I think that should be the ultimate goal for any romance writerâ€”to write stories that, yes, provide a few hoursâ€™ entertainment. But at the same time, they say something about the human condition and the power of love that we never tire of hearing. Anyone got a favorite Ephron and/or Streep movie theyâ€™d like to share?
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