Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three performances in The Sound of Music

We talk about the Laendler scene from The Sound of Music twice in HtM -- as a performance scene in Ch. 7 and as a love scene in Ch. 9. The dance by Maria (Julie Andrews) and Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) is framed by two other performance scenes, a waltz and the children's "So Long, Farewell." Together, these three scenes run just over eight minutes and provide a compact exemplar of differing but typical treatments of performances: (1) narrative proceeds through a performance that shifts between backgrounded and foregrounded status, (2) performance predominates but a significant narrative event occurs during, or as part of, the performance, and (3) narrative essentially stops while the rhythms of the performance take over.

The waltz (01:28:00, or DVD Ch. 29) begins with a diegetic view of an orchestra and couples dancing in the elegant circling manner of the Viennese waltz. (The music is based on "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things".) Frequent cutaways advance the narrative as guests arrive and are greeted, two speak conspiratorially, and the children appear on the outer patio and talk among themselves. The Laendler (01:30:10, DVD Ch. 30) is strongly foregrounded as a performance, but in the course of it Maria and the Captain come to realize that they are attracted to one another. We understand the orchestra to be diegetic (same as for the waltz) but we do not see it. Finally, the strongly strophic design of "So Long, Farewell" — which accommodates the seven children's one-at-a-time "good nights" — shuts narrative down (01:33:10, DVD Ch. 31). This time the orchestra is nondiegetic (there is no attempt at all to implicate the waltz orchestra, nor is there an audio dissolve).

No comments:

Post a Comment