Music and storytelling are a formidable combination. The power of words coupled with the mellifluous magic of a melody is a potent cocktail that inebriates our soul in the most remarkable manner. There are some films that have defined and moulded the intricacies of our childhood through the wizardry of their storytelling and the timelessness of their music, leaving us with evergreen memories that are etched in our hearts and minds.
When I first saw The Sound of Music many moons ago at the age of 8, I was enthralled by the novelty of a singing family! I would waltz to "Do Re Mi" in the morning and wish my parents "So Long, Farewell" before going to bed. I spent many moments practising my yodelling skills, startling folks at home with my sudden impromptu burst of "yodelai yodelai". I admired "Raindrops on Roses", contemplated if "brown paper packages tied up with string" were really that attractive and rued the fact that I could never experience "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes" in blazing Chennai. The Sound of Music was the outlet to my own little make-believe world.
As I grew up and subsequently watched the film a few hundred times, I began to grasp its influence in shaping my thought processes through different stages in my life. The exquisite, honey-dipped voice of Julie Andrews as she skips with carefree abandon through the rolling Austrian mountains in the title song made my own little heart prance and appreciate similar moments of pure happiness. When the nuns croon "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" with amused exasperation, I felt a little spark of the restless rebel that Maria was. As a teenager trying to discover and make sense of my myriad emotions, Liesel and Rolf's expression of love in "16 going on 17" made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (Though I am positive that this generation of all-knowing teenagers will facepalm and roll eyes at the obsolete, outdated and plain silly lyrics!) The haunting and beautiful "Edelweiss", sung in the sonorous baritone of Christopher Plummer, was much more than a musical deference to Austria's national flower. It was a symbol of a nation's pride and strength to rise above the horrors of the Holocaust and strive towards creating a world of peace. And when the film gives us an inspirational message through the stunning "Climb Every Mountain", I too felt that I could take wings and fly. That I could be anything I desired. That I could "follow every rainbow" to find that elusive dream.
Storytelling has evolved dramatically since the 1960s when The Sound of Music first premiered. Newer, more avant-garde styles of filmmaking have challenged viewers with their depictions of the uncomfortable realities of life. But through this dynamic metamorphosis that represented that changing face of cinema, the musical genre has stood the test of time and is still relevant today. And here's why. Music is universal and all-encompassing. It lends a fresh and more penetrating perspective to the myriad emotions that make up a narrative. It soothes, uplifts, entertains, and, more significantly, forges a deeper connection between its story and its characters for a lifetime.
The Sound of Music is far more than just a joyous musical. It is reflective of the many moments of happiness, sadness, love, betrayal, kindness, fun and growth that combine to create the phenomenon that is our lives. The Sound of Music has taught me invaluable life lessons that have enriched and enhanced me through my formatives years and for that, this film will forever hold a place in my heart as one among "a few of my favourite things".