During the holidays, it's often asked, “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” The answer? Well, a tentative yes. "Die Hard" is certainly a great movie to watch during the holidays. What isn’t usually asked, however, yet highly implied, is how "The Sound of Music" is also considered a great Christmas movie by many.
Few movies are as timeless a classic as The Sound of Music. This musical masterpiece is now more than half a century old, yet it's still as watchable today as it was the day it premiered in 1965. Stream it on Disney+ and experience how the movie mesmerizes you with its brilliant songs and choreography.
It effortlessly sweeps away our negative emotions and replaces them with feel-good optimism. It contains all the elements required to lift the human spirit, and accordingly, the movie’s appeal is universal across the globe. These are some of the reasons behind its global success.
The Joy and Optimism
It might be hard to believe, but when The Sound of Music was first released, it was extensively derided by critics at the time. Why? The complaint was how the movie was “too saccharine” and filled with “artificial romantic nonsense.”
The scathing reviews bore no influence as the movie went on to become one of the most commercially successful films of all time. Audiences paid no attention to the critics’ opinions because they received so much joy and optimism from the movie.
Clearly, the audiences related to everything the movie stood for. The Sound of Music gave its viewers lovable characters, joyful music with song and dance, and a strong life-affirming inspiration in the story of Maria. Maria was an orphan, and despite growing up without a family, she still held on to the wonder, beauty, and optimism of life. Her lovable spirit touched the lives of seven other orphans. She brought joy back into their lives after their mother’s untimely death.
Movies like The Sound of Music acknowledge and respect the innocence of children. The “childish romantic themes,” which cynical critics hate, actually work to reaffirm the good we see in children. It shows us how children live with a sense of wonder in their early years.
Despite growing up without a family, she still held on to the wonder, beauty, and optimism of life.
Kids tend to be optimistic dreamers because they can still see their own potential of becoming something great someday. This is why children seem to be able to effortlessly relate to the larger than life heroes they encounter in stories despite being weak, vulnerable, and helpless themselves.
Walt Disney understood this about children and was proud of producing movies for them. He found no reason to belittle the innocence of children. The Sound of Music is similar. Being able to watch movies that fuel the young soul with optimism is one great way of giving children the best start in life.
The Music and Promise of Renewal
Laughter, song, and dance are among the most natural things children will do when they feel joyful. It isn’t until we grow older that we start to inhibit our childhood proclivity to sing and dance when we’re happy.
The movie played this out marvelously. The von Trapp children, after their mother’s death, were stripped of the joys of song and dance. Their father’s devastation from the loss of his beloved wife made him shun everything that reminded him of her – namely laughter and music.
Maria brought all of it back. Her arrival as the children’s governess healed their pain from the loss of their mother and restored hope to the family. However, there was a conflict because Maria was supposed to become a nun. Worried about breaking her vows, she fled back to her convent.
The Family Love and Benevolence
When Maria was afraid of the romantic feelings she had for Captain Von Trapp, her mentor, the Mother Abbess, told Maria that the love between a man and a woman was just as holy as the love of God. She told Maria that she needn’t feel guilty for loving the Captain, nor should she think that she was betraying her vow when she pledged her life to the service of God.
“The love of a man and a woman is holy.” — the Mother Abbess
The Mother Abbess clarified that a person should stay true to oneself instead of denying the truth. Maria had to seek the truth. And the truth was, Maria was better off being a mother to the seven children she adored than being a nun. She was better off pledging the vows of marriage to the man she loved than pledging her vows as a nun.
Believing in Happiness is Realistic
As previously mentioned, when The Sound of Music first premiered, critics scolded it for being “too saccharine” and filled with “romantic nonsense.” Basically, they complained that it was unrealistic.
When the movie premiered, critics scolded it for being too saccharine and filled with romantic nonsense.
Notice how the critics conveniently forgot that Liesl’s first love (Rolf) became a Nazi and turned on her family. It’s hard to imagine anything less “sweet” than your first love, with whom you dreamed of being with forever, rejecting your love in favor of serving Hitler.
Suffice to say, even the critics forgot that The Sound of Music tackled some dark storylines. For instance, the family had to give up everything and flee Austria because Captain von Trapp refused to serve under the Nazi regime. If anything, this is a testament to the power of joy in The Sound of Music. Even the bitterest of cynics forgot about the loving and respectful, protective boyfriend losing his innocence and turned into a Nazi.
Life is Good
Luckily for Liesl, she had a strong and loving family she could fall back on, easing her heartbreak from Rolf. Also, because Captain von Trapp was a strong father figure in his daughter’s life, Liesl had an idea of what a proper man should be like. Losing Rolf wasn’t too devastating because Liesl knew that things were going to be okay in the end.
The Sound of Music reminds us that life is beautiful. It reminds us that hope is never lost, and ultimately, things will be okay. Movies like Star Wars: A New Hope, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Disney Classics are evergreen and eternal. These are movies made by previous generations which we still watch today, and will be watched by future generations to come.
It reminds us that hope is never lost, and ultimately, things will be okay.
So long as we have trust in the innocence of children, and children believe in goodness and happiness, The Sound of Music will be enjoyed by generations to come.
The themes of family and renewal are why The Sound of Music, just like Die Hard, is a Christmas movie staple. Christmas is a time we want to spend with our family and loved ones, and the New Year is a time for renewal and restoration.
John McClane from Die Hard fought the baddies to save his wife so they can return to their family and start over with a renewed perspective. Maria was a savior for bringing joy back to the orphaned and widowed von Trapp family and gained a family of her own. It doesn't change the fact that both these movies are simply a joy to watch. And this is why we love watching them during the happiest time of the year.