For most people, there’s only a handful of movies that we’ll stop and watch whenever we come across them on television.

The Sound of Music is one of those films for me.

The heartwarming 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is based on the true and inspiring story of the singing von Trapp family who fled Austria after the country fell under Nazi control in 1938.

Perhaps not surprisingly, The New York Times panned the film for its “romantic nonsense and sentiment.” Yet the public strongly disagreed.

In time, the highly decorated movie raked in $286 million at the box office, a near record for the era.

Many people are drawn to the picture for its melodic, catchy and memorable music. The soundtrack reached the top of the charts and stayed there for over 100 weeks. Even to this day, many of a certain age can still sing the songs, some of which were composed specifically for the movie.

But the sustaining power of the story goes beyond the tunes, lyrics and breathtaking cinematography that includes various historic spots in Salzburg and the Untersberg mountains.

We love The Sound of Music because it represents a triumph of the will and of faith, especially the ongoing battle with the evil and wicked forces that still roam the earth.

Speaking with reporters at the film’s debut, Maria von Trapp said, “The great good the film and the play are doing to individual lives is far beyond money. There seems to be so much despair in the world. But so many people write about how much the film has helped them in restoring their confidence in God.”

Keep in mind, this was said in 1965. If that was the case then, it’s even more so today.

There may be no looming late-night escapes into convents or over treacherous mountain passes to escape an encroaching villain – but there is still the vile and the violent elements of culture. There are still demonic forces waging war trying to entice and entrap.

Hundreds of thousands are marching in Washington’s snow today to change laws and hearts and save the lives of the preborn.

It was tempting for the von Trapps to stay put, go along to get along, and not disrupt their singing success. But to do so would have meant acquiescing to the Nazis and even cooperating with and promoting the regime.

For Christians today, it might be tempting to cooperate with the corrupt to avoid the hassle or even protect resources and reputation. Yet, G.K. Chesterton put it well when he wrote, “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”

The von Trapps had convictions – which is why they didn’t go along to get along.

In the ongoing war for hearts and minds, it might also be helpful to remember the Lord uses difficulties to accomplish great things.

The Sound of Music film took plenty of liberties with true-life facts, including the very origin of the family’s musical performances. You’ll recall the movie credits Maria with bringing music back into the home, as well as corralling and unleashing the children’s talents.

In reality, the seeds of the family singing sensation group date to the difficulties of the Great Depression. The von Trapps lost their fortune in the early 1930s and had to bring in boarders to help make the ends meet. Reverend Franz Waner, a Catholic priest, was one such tenant. He saw the talent in the children, and then directed and took them on tour. Without the financial ruin years earlier, there very well may never have been the von Trapp singers.

Many of us are moved by the twice singing of “Edelweiss,” which was the last song Oscar Hammerstein ever composed. It never was an Austrian folk song, but movie creators felt like they needed a song to communicate the sorrow of abandoning a beloved country. The “edelweiss” is a real flower that somehow manages to grow in mountainous and high-altitude terrain. In its native setting, it symbolizes courage, strength and even risk.

As Christians, we pray at once for God’s will and way – and that He would have mercy on us and “Bless [our] homeland forever.”


Image credit: 20th Century Fox