The Missional Sound of Music

October 5, 2008

Album coverOur new “thing” to do as a family is watch old movies together. We had our first clue about old movies a few years ago when the kids watched Danny Kaye in The Court Jester (1955). Then recently, we watched Charlie Chaplin in City Lights (1931), and the kids said something like, “They just don’t make them like they used to.” That was it — I decided we should try watching an old movie together every week or two. So we did the original Cheaper By the Dozen (1950) and the sequel Belles on Their Toes (1952), having read the books together. We did Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

Our last movie was The Sound of Music (1965). And now I know I am getting old, because I felt myself crying — at the overture behind the opening credits! I had forgotten that as a child, I listened to the album over and over. Although I tend to lean toward strange, ironic movies like Donnie Darko, The Sound of Music is #1 on my all-time list.

I have seen it many times, but it has been, oh, a decade or two since I last saw it, so I have changed. I was surprised to find the movie has changed as a result. First, listening with a more trained musical ear, Julie Andrews blew me away. It’s not only her tone and perfect diction, but her evocative phrasing.

I warned our thoroughly postmodern kids that the movie would depict perfect children in an irony-free environment, because I wanted them to be braced for the cute songs like Do Re Mi. What I did not remember was a considerable amount of adult sparring under a veneer of required social politeness, like the subtle tricks of the Duchess or the presence of Nazi supporters at the party.

Then there’s the scene where Christopher Plummer’s character sings Edelweiss at the song festival. You can see the Captain suddenly grieve for his country, but besides his faltering voice, Plummer somehow makes his eyes go vacant — you can feel the character’s emotions right through his eyes. Terrific acting!

But the thing that was most changed about the movie is I was not expecting a missional movie. Maria wants so much to dedicate her life to the church, but instead is sent out into the world. There is a clear sense of calling reflected in her prayers, though her assumptions about the nature of her mission aren’t quite correct. What has been impossible for others is easy for her, because she uses her gifts, and her focus is to serve others (which may mean standing up to them). Do I need to continue? Missional friends, watch again and enjoy, and be renewed in your call to pursue “a dream that will need all the love you can give, everyday of your life for as long as you live”!

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

2 responses to The Missional Sound of Music

  1. Jon, we own the movie and have watched it quite a few times. We all love it! I think we should watch it again. So many wonderful songs and a positive message. Woo hoo!

  2. Climb every mountain, Helen. We dream because we follow the Dreamer.