The Sound of Music was released in 1965, but its legacy and popularity have endured to the present day.
The film was based on the real-life story of the singing Von Trapp family, who fled Austria during World War II and escaped to America. Known as the Von Trapp Family Singers, they made their living touring and performing across the country.
Their story was made into a musical, scored by the legendary duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The success of the musical led to the creation of this film version.
Julie Andrews plays Maria – a young postulant (a ‘probationary’ nun) at Salzburg Abbey who seems more interested in enjoying the wonders of nature than her religious duties.
Recognising that Maria is a free spirit and not really cut out to be a nun, the Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) sends her to do God’s work as the latest in a long line of governesses at the home of ex-naval officer Captain Von Trapp.
The Captain (Christopher Plummer) is still grieving over the loss of his beloved wife and treats his seven children as if they were troops under his command. When Maria arrives, she is stunned by his treatment of them (he even has a special whistle command to summon each child), and she tries to inject some joy into their lives by teaching them how to sing.
At first, the Captain is enraged that Maria takes his children gallivanting around the city and the mountains singing songs, climbing trees and wearing clothes made out of curtains. But eventually, the Captain softens towards Maria when he sees how she has made his children so happy.
Maria, however, feels that she is no longer needed by the Von Trapp family, as the Captain has become engaged to the wealthy Baroness (Eleanor Parker).
But the children do not like the icy Baroness and do not want to lose their governess. The Von Trapps are also in danger of losing their father because the Nazis want him to fight in the German navy, against his wishes.
Somehow, Maria and the Captain must reconcile their feelings for each other and find a way to keep the Von Trapp family safe and together.
Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote several memorable songs for the Von Trapps to sing, including Do Re Mi, My Favourite Things, The Lonely Goatherd and Edelweiss. Children of all ages learned (and still know) these songs, and they are a major reason for the film’s continued popularity.
The Sound of Music was an international commercial success, also garnering five Academy Awards in 1965, including Best Picture.
Julie Andrews recalled that, during the filming of the majestic opening musical sequence of The Sound of Music, the strong downdraft from the helicopter with the cameraman kept knocking her down as she ran up and down the mountain (although this was the first scene in the film, it was actually the final sequence shot in Europe before the cast and crew returned to the United States).
During the musical number I Have Confidence, the real Maria von Trapp makes a brief cameo appearance in the film. She is in the background as Julie Andrews (in the role of Maria) walks through an archway during the song.
Both Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn turned down the role of Maria, while Yul Brynner, Sean Connery and Richard Burton were all seriously considered for the part of Captain Von Trapp. Would-be Von Trapp children included Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss and the four eldest Osmond brothers (Alan, Jay, Merrill and Wayne).
Captain von Trapp
Liesl von Trapp
Louisa von Trapp
Friedrich von Trapp
Kurt von Trapp
Brigitta von Trapp
Marta von Trapp
Gretl von Trapp
Captain von Trapp (singing voice)