Saturday, January 02, 2016

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE ....

Christmas is over and a new year begins - 2016 Hello and Welcome! 

You are going to be a fantastic year for me and I hope for all of you too. I shall be writing a list of what I want to achieve this year, in the next few days - I don't like to talk about the list too much as it feels like I'll jinx it, like making a wish, you should keep it secret!  The list will be around my writing goals - finishing my second memoir, completing a new non-fiction 'How to ..' book, etc as well as goals for living and relationships. Sometimes I find a list I wrote from years ago and looking through the list I think - OH God I didn't get anywhere near that or that or that, Oh I did get that ... For the last five years for example I had to finish my memoir and publish it.  Each year I'd put it there again.  I finally achieved that last year so am very pleased with myself. Years ago I  envisaged the cover and put it on my bedroom wall. And so it came to pass, more or less as I'd pictured it. 

Part of that goal is still to come though - my goal was to sell 50,000 copies.  So I'm working on the marketing for that... you can help by sharing my blogs with all your networks.  The link is below to the Amazon entry.
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Click on the title for a link to my new book...
 a memoir about my journey across South Africa and life in Cape Town
in the time of apartheid in the 1970s.  It's a true story - have a look ...
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THE HILLS ARE ALIVE ...

Now to the title of this blog.  I actually watched The Sound of Music  yesterday, for the first time in 20+ years.[Much to the disgust of my male companion who removed himself to another room and the Movies4Men channel ].

I was interested this time, not so much in the romance and songs, but in the characters and themes, the ones that make this a great story.  The austere but beautiful Austrian baron (Christopher Plummer - the Johnny Depp of his day), a wealthy widower and his 7 regimented children, whose mother had died some years before. He is finally coming out of his widower life, being drawn to an equally wealthy and amusing woman who is part of salon life in Vienna.

The Baron hires a new governess(Maria) from the nearby convent who brings joy and laughter and music into the strictly controlled lives of the children. The Baron's soon to be fiancé sees the dangerous attraction developing between this new governess  and her lover and sends Maria back to the convent. This gives her(the fiancé) the chance to see that her own skills with children are seriously lacking and she bows out, just as Maria returns from the convent, having realised her own feelings for the Baron.

The backdrop to it all is the rapidly rising Nazi Germany, already encroaching into Austria. Many of Austria's fiercely patriotic people are deeply resentful of Hitler's ambitions for their own country. This Austrian patriotism is symbolised in the song 'Edelweiss' which ends 'Bless My Homeland For Ever'.', sung in the Salzburg concert by the Von Trapp  children with the ''new Nazi' contingent sitting in the front row - a song symbolising political opposition to the Hitler regime.  The message is not lost on the Nazi supporters, who reiterate that 'nothing will change' in Austria under their regime, when it is clear that EVERYTHING will change.

The Von Trapp's escape (The Baron would have had to go work for the Nazis), sheltered by the nuns briefly, before their escape over the mountains.

What I enjoyed about the story this time was the a great story.  The Baron's fiancé is NOT a Cruella Deville as I expected her to be somehow.  She is an intelligent witty woman, wealthy in her own right.  Yes she defends her lover's territory from the threat of the new governess, fair enough.  But she soon sees that the country lifestyle and taking on 7 children are not for her and returns to the city salon lifestyle she prefers.  She makes her own choices and is a strong character.  Maria is a bright, independent young woman full of life and laughter who brings fun back into the children's lives.  She also has character complexities - she wants to be a nun, but is falling for the Baron and it takes the two older and wiser women - the fiancé and the Mother Superior at the convent to put her onto a road which she is suited to - the wife of the Baron and mother of the children. 

Sound of Music is therefore a well-written story (based on a true one) with strong female characters not the silly female cardboard cut-outs of so many movies.  Interestingly, the Baron himself, although represented as strong and independent and patriotic is the least interesting character (apart from being eye candy). There's the young boy drawn into Nazism and being a brown shirt too and the complexities of his emotional involvement. 

Most interesting is the Baron's un-outed gay(?) friend who comes to 'chaperone' the fiancé and then organises the Von Trapp children into a singing troupe. Finally, the historical backdrop is understated but powerful and compelling.  This is why the movie has endured in popularity for so long.  It's appeal is on many levels and of course I haven't even mentioned the wonderful music and  songs.


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