Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Sound of Music

How do you solve a problem like choosing the best shot from a movie? How do you find one image that best represents a movie? In only the rarest of movies will one shot be designed to be, or over time grows into being, THE definitive image. Movies by their nature celebrate the beauty of multiple shots in successive motion. Sequences scroll by, images build upon images, dialogue layers over songs and music. The beauty and power of that one crescendo moment is really the cumulative result of numerous previous moments.

I find that there are always so many beautiful shots that define any movie, including The Sound of Music. So many shots and sequences have become iconic and ingrained into the collective consciousness. The amazing helicopter shot zooming in on Maria as she sings the opening lines of the movie. The children on Maria's bed during My Favourite Things. All of the images from Do Re Mi.

The beauty of this excellent HMWYBS series is that it allows us to revisit movies, to rediscover what drew us in in the first place and to allow us to find new hidden gems to be thankful for. What is the best shot may be the best shot always, or it may only be the best shot right now, changing in the future.

Growing up, I only watched this film on television. Punctuated by advertising, I could only stay up until around the wedding scenes. My memories are mostly of the joyful first half, full of song and dance. And while the more serious, Nazi filled second half gives the film a lot of weight, it will always be the infectious exuberance of the von Trapp family, led by Maria, that fills my heart.

So it was perfect that, upon this viewing, I discovered this glorious reaction shot:

Within the film, this shot captures Liesl's glee upon experiencing her first kiss with the seventeen-going-on-eighteen messenger boy. But that same unbridled glee could also belong to Maria in her celebration of life and music, or the children upon learning to sing and being able to play again, or the Captain upon watching his children during the Lonely Goatherd performance.

For many of us, it's also the same unbridled joy that we get from doing over favourite things, listening to our favourite songs and watching our favourite films. This shot may not be the most beautiful or well known from the movie, but it's the one that best encapsulates the run-into-the-rain-and-jump-for-joy-in-your-wet-clothes kind of glee that I feel when I watch it.


  1. I think unbridled joy is the most underrated emotion a movie can deliver. seriously.

  2. Great choice it does capture the happiness of the film before the dark clouds roll in. My choice is just before this one during the secret dance in the gazebo between Liesl and Rolfe. When they are silhouetted against the glass with the rain pouring down the deep focus that catches all the colors of the exterior lights, her dress and the reflections plus the joy with which they are dancing is just amazing. It also informs the scenes with Rolfe later when that happy boy disappears into rigid doctrine.

  3. Charmaine Carr might look like she passed sixteen going on seventeen quite a while ago, but that giant "WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" is so girlish and perfect that it's all the proof you need of Liesl's age. This has always been one of my favorite moments in the film.

  4. Nathaniel R - I agree. With all the sombre oscar films this season, this was a great choice!

    Joel - I loved the whole sequence. I always tend to love ending shots like this one because it's the final product of the whole wonderful sequence.

    Daniel - good call on Charmaine, but I'll believe anyone as a teenager as long as they are not Stockard Channing from Grease!