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10 Lessons We Learned From "The Sound of Music"


It's a little hard to believe, but almost 50 years ago to the day, a film version of a Broadway musical about a nun who comes to nanny for an Austrian family and teaches them to love and sing was released by 20th Century Fox. At the time, nobody had high expectations for the film—Robert Wise had chosen to cast a relatively unknown Broadway actress, Julie Andrews, in the main role (she had already filmed "Mary Poppins" but the movie had not yet been released, nor had she received her Oscar for that role at the time), along with acclaimed stage actor Christopher Plummer. Yet to everyone's surprise, "The Sound of Music" was a tremendous success, going on to become one of the highest-grossing and most well-known musical films of all time.

2015 TCM Classic Film Festival - Opening Night Gala and Screening Of The Sound of Music - Screening

Many of you probably don't know just how much of a blessing this was—at the time, 20th Century Fox was on the verge of bankruptcy after the commercial flop of the 4-hour Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton epic "Cleopatra" which cost a fortune to make, and "The Sound of Music" quite literally saved the studio. Now 50 years later, the Oscar-winning movie is still shown on TV, still a classic, and everyone still knows its songs by heart. You might also be thrilled to know that Maria and Captain Von Trapp have remained friends for all that time. Recently the two actors reunited at the TCM Film Festival to open the anniversary screening of the film (pictured above), and they were as sharp as ever. To honor them and this spectacular cinematic feat, we decided to pick out ten of our favorite lessons we learned from this seminal film.

1. Believe in yourself!

"I've always longed for adventure, to do the things I've never dared. And here I am facing adventure—then why am I so scared?" sings Maria as she skips around Salzburg on her way to the Von Trapp residence. It's a position we've all been in at some point in our lives—eager to go out into the world, yet terrified of what might happen when we venture out. Maria is someone to look up to because she hammers in a theme that people at our age sometimes have a hard time coming to grips with—that we can do anything we put our minds to as long as we believe in ourselves. With all that threatens our dreams in life (especially with the added hurdle of being a woman), it can be easy to feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in self-doubt. But when Maria lifts up her chin in defiance, she's telling us that all we really need to succeed is confidence. 

2. Running away doesn't solve anything

There are going to be many occassions in life where you'll be tempted to take the easy way out. You might figure that if you ignore all the trials and tribulations, it might somehow make things better off for you. On the contrary however, not facing up to your problems will actually worsen the situation and cause you an extra load of grief in most circumstances. It's better to just face your troubles head on, as Maria learns from Mother Abbess. Just think, if she had never decided to go back to the Von Trapps, what would have become of the family? We'd prefer not to speculate, but we know it would be just awful.

3. Love can wait...

This is a rather important lesson for us collegiettes. In a world of Tinder and casual hookups and people getting married at a young age (come on, admit that you've noticed at least a few of your friends announce engagements on Facebook), it can seem like society is pressuring you to be in a relationship of some sort. For all of us single ladies out there, it can seem like everyone is involved, while we wait out on the sidelines alone. This, however is not the case! Love, real love, is not something you rush into or force along. And there is nothing wrong with waiting a year or two, or five. Because when it does finally come around (and trust us, it will) it will be well worth the wait.

4. ...but when it finally does it happen, it can be in the most unexpected way

Ah, you can practically just feel the love in the air. Certainly if we learned anything from Maria and Georg, it's that opposites (however volatile they may be) most certainly do attract. It may be rocky at first, when two starkly contrasting personalities clash, but after all, hate and love both stem from the same feeling: passion. These two did indeed have quite a bit of passion (though 90 percent of it was kept off screen, of course, considering it was a G-rated film), but what really helped their relationship in the end was the level of honesty they had with each other. Neither one was afraid to speak their mind, to stand up and say what desperately needed to be said. Before long, these two realized that underneath all the headbutting, there was nothing but pure unfiltered love.

5. Family doesn't end with blood

One you may not have been thinking about—how can we forget how Max helped the family escape, despite it going against his own plans and ambititions? Max may have been an "uncle" of sorts to the family, but he was not related, and yet he chose to risk everything (against Nazis nevertheless) to help the Von Trapps to safety. Now that is the true measure of a friend. 

6. What to do when you're afraid

It really does work (to some extent of course). There are plenty of things in life that will scare us: from silly little pests like spiders and thunderstorms, to bigger issues like commitment and mortality. We all have our deep-seated phobias, and while nothing can completely erase them, whenever confronted with something extremely unpleasant in life, one of the easiest ways to get through it is to follow Maria's advice and think of the good things in life, the stuff we live for. Sunny days, funnel cake, Ryan Gosling's abs, whatever makes you happy—it can help take your mind off the negative and bring it back to where it's supposed to be. You can even try singing the song to yourself, because let's face it by now (with all the airtime this tune receives) you know all the lyrics by heart.

7. Don't, under any circumstances, mess with nuns

They may seem meek and timid on the outside, but nuns have proven time and time again to have an enormous wealth of strength underneath those habits. While this ending didn't actually happen in real life (the real Von Trapps just walked a few miles from their house to catch a train out of Austria), the ending proved to be much more entertaining.

8. Follow your heart, as it is always right

Falling in with the "confidence" lesson, this movie also reminds us that we should always strive for the stars even if we have further to fall. Everyone has a dream of their own, something they wish to acheive or become, and so many people in life never get the chance to realize that dream. As young adults on the brink of the real world, we are at a definitive crossroads in our life. We can choose to take the path preconceived for us, or we can make our own path. If you want to be even half as amazing as Maria, we'd suggest the latter.

9. Family is the most important thing

They may annoy you, they may let you down, they might even be detrimental to your own health—but family has been and will always be the most central and definitive element in a person's life. Every family has its quirks, its highs, and its lows. But they're our families, and we'd do, give, say and sing anything for them. A trek through the Alps probably wasn't the easiest hike in the world, but as long as the family was together, they didn't mind the tough road that lay ahead.

10. Julie Andrews is perfect

As if we needed that reaffirmed.

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