We had gone to see a production of The Sound of Music outdoors, in the round. The children loved seeing the performers racing down the stairs to the stage--Rolf thumping all the way on his bicycle, nuns with their slips showing racing to solve a problem like Maria.
What a surprise to see the real Austria in the film, the camera flying over the mountains in a long sequence that reminded me of the old German Alpine films--and finding an ecstatic Julie Andrews, a few minutes away from once again assuming the duties of a governess. This time, however, all she has is a song--no Mary Poppins magic; but Andrews brings--I must succumb to movie review language here--her own kind of magic to both roles--and I'm not sure how to define it. She is neither reverent nor ironic as she makes her way through a movie that could have been made fifteen years ago--beautiful color, sweeping vistas--and almost-petrified Broadway tunes, just about done in with constant radio replay and our own visits to the theater and record store. But Julie refuses to either encase the role in amber or ham it up, with a too-hip smirk at the indulgences of Show Biz. No, she simply grabs the top of her head and lets loose, looking as young as her von Trapp charges, her short hair completely casual but her eyes cast upward, happy to be singing.
--Which is why, even though I know the von Trapps are real, those Nazis at the end seem jarring, as if the cast had wandered onto another sound stage--maybe spacemen next, then twistin' teens. Andrews, though, stands aside, lets the politics have its say, so that she can get back to business, away up there in the mountains again where the air is as clear as her voice telling us "So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye ..."