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The Sound Of Music Essay

1706 words - 7 pages

When an energetic young woman training to become nun enrolls as governess for a family of eight—seven children and a staunch, domineering father—her cheerful disposition quickly conflicts with the stern, restrictive atmosphere of her surroundings. This conflict leads her to question her devotion to the nunnery, the environment of which is just as oppressive as the family’s home. Nevertheless, throughout her journey, the young governess enjoys a carefree lifestyle in spite of her situation, and the conflicts that arise as a result become the subject of visual representation. This is the story of an iconic film that implements on screen visual cues to promote the same values held and exemplified by the governess’ character. From its title sequence to its closing credits, Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music (1965) uses visual design to express themes of liberation and nonconformism by contrasting oppressive environments with onscreen elements that represent personal freedom; the blatant disparities are the result of character placement and shot composition, costuming, and lighting arrangement. By harnessing meaningful visual elements, the film creates juxtapositions that are easily noticed by the audience and, therefore, effectively communicate themes.
One of the earliest juxtapositions the audience will notice is the film’s title and opening credit sequence, which comprises two important visual elements that work in tandem to demonstrate the film’s overarching theme of freedom. The title design’s bright, glistening, yellow color suggests springtime and sunshine, both of which characterize the preceding scene, and the font’s curved, wide, emboldened style seems jovial and whimsical. Such blithe feelings are natural and expected in a musical film. But, as with the opening credits, the title is superimposed over shots of antiquated, pale-colored, European-style buildings that reaffirm the film’s setting as a drab, 20th Century Salzburg, Austria; the opening credits even conclude with “Salzburg, Austria, in the last Golden Days of the Thirties” (The Sound of Music). At this point in history, as the audience inevitably learns, Salzburg is experiencing sociopolitical turmoil and is sitting on the brink of World War II. This time period conjures negative connotations, such as social conformity and oppression, and allows for the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich, which becomes a source of conflict in the latter half of the film. These connotations starkly contrast the light-hearted tone created by the title design. Thus, superimposing a bright-colored title over a troubling, foreboding setting creates a significant thematic contrast. This title sequence follows the film’s opening sequence, which further establishes thematic contrasts via setting, shot composition, and the protagonist, Maria Rainer (Julie Andrews).
The film’s various settings, when combined with the cinematographic elements of shot composition and spacing, conflict with the onscreen blocking of...

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