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Theatre / The Sound of Music

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"My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I'll sing once more."

The Sound of Music is the final — and most famous — musical composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein (the latter of whom died of stomach cancer just nine months after its Broadway premiere), based on the story of the Trapp Family Singers. The musical was inspired by the earlier, now largely forgotten 1956 German movie adaptation of the book, Die Trapp-Familie (The Trapp Family).note  It features nuns, Those Wacky Nazis, and not the Austrian national anthem, and has inspired a great many pop culture references and pastiches.

The musical follows Maria Rainer, a young postulant from Nonnberg Abbey, as she is sent to be a governess to the seven children of retired Navy Captain Georg von Trapp. She soon discovers that the captain not only runs a tight ship, but also cannot bear to be reminded of his wife, meaning that he spends a lot of time in Vienna with Elsa Schraeder (she is a Baroness in the film, but only "Frau Schraeder" in the stage show), with whom he has struck up a romance. As a result, the children are rather rebellious and disdainful of any governesses (who were, as befitting authority figures of the time, rather strict). Maria is, however, kind towards them, and easily befriends the lot, teaching them songs and letting them frolic around the Austrian countryside. Captain von Trapp is rather taken aback, but soon rediscovers his pent-up happiness and begins to fall in love with Maria, who still hasn't worked out her own emotions. A brief trip back to the Abbey — and a cluebat expertly wielded by the Reverend Mother — convinces her to go with the flow, and she returns and marries Georg.

Unfortunately, the Anschluss happens while the two are on their honeymoon and when they return Georg is "asked" to accept a command in the new German navy. Being strongly opposed to Hitler, the family resolves to leave Austria for Switzerland using the pretext of attending a local folk music festival for cover. But the Nazis are not so easily bamboozled and the von Trapps will not get away quite that easily...

Adaptations include:

These are a few of my favorite tropes:

  • Actually, That's My Assistant: When Maria arrives at the Von Trapp home, she mistakes Franz the butler for Captain Von Trapp. According to the real Maria, this actually happened in Real Life.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The musical gives Maria Kutschera her own mother's maiden name, Rainer, presumably because it is simpler for an English-speaking audience. All of the children are given different first names; Rupert, Agathe, Maria Franziska, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, and Martina become, respectively, Friedrich, Liesl (who swaps ages with her brother to become the oldest), Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl.
  • Adapted Out: Many characters in Maria's autobiography were dropped for The Sound of Music.
    • Father Wasner, family friend and Honorary Uncle, who teaches the family religious classical music, and escapes with the Von Trapp family to America.
    • Georg's friend who keeps house for him until he can find a wife - which is understandable given that she is a Baroness, as is (in the film version) Georg's fiancee, so two Baronesses in one plot could become confusing.
    • Maria and Georg were married for ten years by the time the von Trapps fled Austria, as opposed to the matter of days in the musical; as such, their daughters Rosmarie and Eleonore are nowhere to be seen.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "My Favorite Things" includes raindrops on roses, bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages, cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, blue satin sashes, and silver white winters.
  • An Aesop: Not a crucial one to the plot, but Maria learns that Taking the Veil is not the only way to serve God with your life, and that marriage can be just as sacred as taking holy orders.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the nuns sing about Maria.
    She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee
    Her dress has got a tear
    She waltzes on her way to Mass
    And whistles on the stair
    And underneath her wimple
    She has curlers in her hair
    I've even heard her singing in the abbey
    • Note that the nuns sing this. In the abbey.
    • In the very next scene, Mother Superior explains that only postulants are prohibited from singing in the abbey. These are full nuns.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The three older von Trapp daughters:
    • Liesl is the Beauty, being a romantic and the only one in a relationship with a boy. She also wears fancier dresses than the other two.
    • Brigitta is the Brains, as she is established from her first scene to be an avid bookworm.
    • Louisa is the Brawn, being the most active in the outdoors scenes and playing with a football with her brothers (and the only one, including the boys, who can perform feats of physical endurance like climbing to a second-story window with a jar of spiders in her hand).
  • Beta Couple: Liesl and Rolf are a tragic version. They initially have an idyllic teenage romance, but Rolf ultimately chooses his loyalty to the Nazis over his love for her.
  • Betty and Veronica: Kind, music-loving nun Maria is the Betty and elegant, haughty Baroness Elsa Schrader is the Veronica for Captain von Trapp.
  • Big Bad: While almost all the characters are extremely principled and mostly nice people, Zeller is an enemy of Von Trapps from the start and ends up being the Nazi they have to escape from.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Though it isn't readily apparent in the film version, the stage musical emphasises Maria's and Georg's shared love of music, Austria, and the mountains, which adds even more of a foundation to their romance.
    • Captain Von Trapp also has quite a lot in common with Baroness Schraeder, socially and in terms of background. It's only their political views that eventually diverge, and even then only because a highly unusual historical situation happens to crop up right that minute and they disagree when it becomes necessary to somewhat arbitrarily gamble on choosing their strategies for surviving it.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When the children explain to their father where they've been after secretly trying to go see Maria. Made even funnier by the fact that he's clearly aware they're talking rubbish, and the excuses to patch up the holes in their story just get more and more absurd. For instance, strawberries that were so cold they turned blue...
    • They also try to sabotage Maria upon their first meeting with her, responding to her request for advice on how to make a success of her assignment by recommending that she do several things obviously destined to torpedo the whole thing, such as overstepping her place in the household and displaying uncouth table manners.
  • Bookends: The stage show opens and closes to the sound of the Reverend Mother's voice.
  • Bowdlerize: French TV broadcasts remove the renditions of "Maria" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" sung by the nuns as they thought it was sinful for nuns to be singing non-religious songs. As such, only the reprises of them were heard.
  • Bravado Song: "I Have Confidence", a "Gaining Confidence" Song in which Maria declares that she's up to the task of being governess to seven children, and successfully talks herself into believing it.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Maria had some difficulty trying to realize her feelings for Captain von Trapp and tell him that she loved him. The things that girl has to do to get a kiss!
  • Captain Obvious: In the stage version only, Friedrich's introduction of himself to Maria is "I'm Friedrich. I'm 14. I'm a boy."
  • Caretaking is Feminine: The Von Trapp children had scared away 11 governesses (defined as an unmarried woman who is a live-in babysitter and teacher), with Maria being the 12th prior to falling in love with their father.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Maria and Captain Von Trapp's knowledge of the mountains in the musical. It allows them to climb the mountains to navigate a route to Switzerland.
  • Child Hater: The Baroness is an extremely mild version of this trope. The worst thing she does is scheming with Max to have the children sent off to boarding school.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • The song "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" demonstrates that while Liesl may be innocent Rolf is certainly more so. Unless you subscribe to an Alternate Character Interpretation.
    • The two youngest Von Trapp children don't understand the threat that is Nazi Germany, with Marta referring to the Nazi swastika as a "black spider" and Gretl suggesting singing "My Favorite Things" again to ease tensions while hiding in the Abbey.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: When the Baroness realizes how much the Captain loves Maria, she suddenly realizes the Captain isn't the man for her, either. Possibly justified, as the way she says it implies she's merely claiming it to save face so that she can leave gracefully.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: How the nuns perceive Maria. They comment on her mannerisms, from waltzing and whistling on her way to Mass to wearing curlers under her wimple, as if she's an alien. Some of them find it endearing, Berthe finds it grating.
  • Les Collaborateurs: All the Austrians who are accepting Nazi rule are collaborators, represented by Uncle Max and the Baroness. But the Captain refuses to budge, straining their relationship with him. In Real Life, the majority of Austrians viewed themselves at that time as Germans and not as their own nation (with prominent people in the minority being Austrian nobility like the Von Trapps, who feared becoming part of a German government founded and still dominated by Austria's longtime rival, Prussia).
  • Colorblind Casting: The 2013 live version casts a black woman (Audra McDonald) in the role of the Mother Abbess. Well okay, it's not impossible that a black woman could be in an Austrian nunnery in the 1930s, but it seems very unlikely. However, it ''is'' very difficult to find a singer-actress with the pipes to handle the role. Incidentally, McDonald is the same woman who was color-blindly cast in the 1999 version of Annie.
  • Cool Old Lady: The Reverend Mother Superior of the convent. She instinctively knows that Maria's calling is outside the convent, sings "My Favorite Things" with her in the musical, and she realizes that Maria is in love with the captain. Not to mention when Maria, at first, told the Reverend Mother she left because she was "frightened". To which the Reverend Mother says, "Frightened, were they unkind to you?" The tone which she uses indicates she is very protective of the nuns.
  • Cuckoo Clock Gag: Discussed in "So Long, Farewell", in which the Von Trapp children mourn the fact that it's time to go to bed with a cutesy song, where they act out the cuckoo clock.
    There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
    And the bells in the steeple too
    And up in the nursery an absurd little bird
    Is popping out to say "cuckoo"
    Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
  • Curtain Clothing: When Maria learns the Von Trapp children have no play clothes, she makes them some out of curtains.
  • Cute Bookworm: Brigitta is implied to be one, as she's late answering her father's whistle because she's absorbed in a book.
  • Dad the Veteran: The Captain served in WWI and was decorated for his actions.
  • Dance of Romance: The Ländler, a.k.a. The Scene Where Our Two Oblivious Protagonists Finally Figure It Out.
  • Death Glare: Captain von Trapp's is so awesomely deadly that it should be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.
  • Defrosting Ice King: The Captain, when he hears his children singing "The Sound of Music" so beautifully in the presence of the Baroness, has a change of heart and asks Maria to stay.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Discussed in the musical, where Max and Baroness Schraeder point out that the Nazi movement is coming, but Captain Von Trapp refuses to bow his head to a German when he is an Austrian. Max and Schrader point out that he could at least pretend so that they'll leave him alone.
    • Maria leaves when Brigitta in the musical and Schraeder in the movie tell her that Captain Von Trapp loves her. She leaves because she's frightened at the thought of loving a man and forsaking her dream to be a nun. The Mother Abbess encourages her to pursue her love, to take risks and to find out what that new dream will be.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Subverted. Von Trapp tells the children that they won't have supper after they tell him they ate strawberries when they tried to see Maria. He revokes it pretty quickly, though. You can tell he didn't buy the berry story for a second.
    Von Trapp: Since you've obviously stuffed yourselves on thousands of delicious berries, you can't be hungry I'll have to tell Frau Schmidt to skip your dinner.
  • Dramatic Pause: when Maria returns to The Abbey and Marta asks who the children's new governess is going to be, Captain Von Trapp says "You're not going to have a governess...anymore."
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Captain von Trapp treats his children this way at the beginning, making them march in formation and having different calls on his whistle for each of them.
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: Maria's dress... that even the poor didn't want.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Maria gets one in the wedding scene that is classically pre-Vatican II Catholic, complete with a multilayer cathedral veil.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Liesl's boyfriend Rolfe pulls a Face-Heil Turn at the end when he joins the Third Reich; where once he used any excuse he could think of to visit the von Trapp house to flirt with Liesl, after the Anschluss, he shocks Liesl with his cold attitude as he hands her a telegram (which he has already read) and orders her to hand it to her father when he and Maria return from their honeymoon.
  • Fake Shemp: For the final scene where the family are hiking over the mountain, it's not actually Kym Karath playing Gretel. She had gained a lot of weight while in Switzerland and was too heavy for Christopher Plummer to carry, so a double was used.
  • The Fatalist: Uncle Max. In the musical version, he and Elsa sing "No Way to Stop It", a cynically defeatist ode to Nazi appeasement.
  • Fear of Thunder: All the Von Trapp kids, prompting Maria to sing "My Favorite Things". (She sings "The Lonely Goatherd" in the stage play.)
  • Flat Character: Marta von Trapp has the least personality of the Von Trapp kids. She's the second youngest, but since Gretel gets to be the baby, Marta has none of that focus. Her most defining characteristic is saying that pink is her favorite color, and that's it. Even Maria, when giving Captain Von Trapp a detailed analysis of each child's personality and psychology, is stumped when she gets to Marta and openly admits to not having figured out much of anything about her yet.
  • First Kiss: Liesl gets hers in the gazebo. She then runs into the rain and squeals in delight. "Whee!"
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: When the Germans march into Salzburg.
  • Friend to All Children: Baroness Schneider in the musical, Maria in both film and musical. The Mother Abbess makes it clear that Maria is good with children.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: The Von Trapp children (except for Liesl who was sneaking in from the garden) all run to Maria's room when they get scared during a thunderstorm.
  • Gentleman Snarker: The Captain.
    Herr Zeller: Perhaps those who would warn you that the Anschluss is coming — and it is coming, Captain — perhaps they would get further with you by setting their words to music.
    Captain von Trapp: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.
    Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.
    Captain von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me — I meant to accuse you.
  • Good is Not Nice: The stern nun who was about the harshest on Maria? At the end, she's one of the two nuns who stole the Nazi's plugs, preventing them from giving chase to the Von Trapps.
  • Good Shepherd:
    • Maria almost became one of these but married instead. In any case, she's good at herding unruly children.
    • The Reverend Mother takes her title seriously. The tone which she uses indicates she is very protective of the nuns.
    • The other nuns, while highly prim and proper, are all good hearted and clearly learned Christ's lesson about heart of the law instead of letter of the law.
  • Good Stepmother: Maria is set to become one, after falling in love with Baron von Trapp.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: He never makes an actual appearance, but ultimately Adolf Hitler is responsible for all the bad things which happen in the story.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Captain Von Trapp and the Baroness in the eyes of the children. While they’re not aware of her plan to ship them off to boarding school, her demeanor coupled with Maria’s absence is enough make them wish that she came back.
  • Happy Ending: In all the versions, though it also borders on Bittersweet Ending.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: Maria is Harmony, von Trapp is Discipline.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • The baroness gives "rather gay parties" in Vienna.
    • At one point, Uncle Max asks the children "What's the matter with you gloomy pussies?"
    • Kurt says "I wonder what grass tastes like..." Though "grass" was a more common slang word for marijuana at the time the film was made than it is now.
  • Held Gaze: Maria and the Captain have a rather intense one during their Dance of Romance, where they quite simply can't look away from each other. It's practically indecent.
  • High Turnover Rate: Maria is the twelfth governess to serve the Von Trapp household since Captain Von Trapp's wife died. He tells her that he hopes she'll be more successful than the last governess, who stayed only two hours.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Prior to the Anschluss, Austria had been a fascist dictatorship for four years. While the musical technically doesn't say anything to contradict this, it does create the impression that Austria was a free country before it fell to the Third Reich. In reality, most Austrians saw themselves as Germans at the time and welcomed the Anschluss; though some did oppose it, including the real Captain von Trapp, they were in the minority and most were monarchists hoping for a Habsburg restoration. And the film refers to pre-Anschluss Austria as "the last Golden Days of the Thirties".
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The real Maria and Georg von Trapp were both less conventionally good looking than Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, or than most performers who play them onstage. Allegedly, the real Maria even told Plummer that he was handsomer than her late husband had been.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Downplayed. Captain von Trapp isn't a villain or a bad person by any means, but he's depicted as much sterner and more emotionally distant than he was in reality. The real von Trapp children were reportedly disturbed by how their father was portrayed and asked producers to soften him a bit. Maria von Trapp also said that the film got her and Georg's parenting roles reversed; he was the permissive free spirit, who encouraged the children to roam the lands around their house, and she the rule-enforcing disciplinarian.
  • Hollywood Costuming: In the 2015 live production, Maria's wedding dress, while appropriately Thirties-esque, really should not have been sleeveless for a Catholic wedding (especially one taking place in an abbey)note . But the low-frills design suits actress Kara Tointon beautifully and fits with the relative simplicity of the sets and costuming of the rest of the production, while a more complicated dress might not have.
  • Hollywood Nuns: Alongside The Song of Bernadette and The Nun's Story, this film was one of the major Trope Codifiers.
  • Honorary Uncle: Max, naturally.
  • Honor Before Reason: Captain von Trapp's defiant attitude toward Nazis which was almost Churchillian. He could be one scary dude at times. In the musical this defiance costs him his engagement with Elsa, though she's more broken up about it than he is.
  • Hope Spot: In-universe; bolstered by the Reverend Mother's words, Maria returns to the von Trapp house, planning to tell the Captain how she feels about him - only to learn from the children that he's getting married. Ouch. Fortunately, he and the Baroness call off the engagement that very night, and Georg accepts that he's in love with Maria. Awwww....
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: The nuns are split on how they view Maria, given she's not suitable for convent life, but they protect her and her family when the Nazis come after them.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Rolf has a brief moment of taking the Captain up on his offer to run away with his family. Then he alerts the Nazis after rejecting it. Inverted in the stage musical, where Rolf calls the Lieutenant, but then says it's a false alarm after realizing that Liesl would be hurt or killed.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Herr Zeller says he's flattered when the Captain says he would be the entire trumpet section if the Nazis took over Austria. Makes more sense when you realize that trumpeters are generally regarded as egotistical, because they like to "blow their own horns".
  • Inspiring Sermon: "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" is sung by the Reverend Mother to Maria, encouraging her that she must face her feelings for Captain Von Trapp and see loving another person as a holy act in itself. Maria is heartened by the song enough to stop hiding in the abbey and return to the Von Trapps. It helps that the work was inspired by the words of the real Dominican Sister Gregory, who was friendly with the creators during the process.
  • Introdump: The children, commanded by a whistle.
  • Ironic Echo: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" is repeated over Maria's wedding to the Captain.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The Baroness, eventually. She said the captain wasn’t for her anyway, and she needed someone with a very strong need for her, or at least for her money. That’s a bit of a Red Herring plot point, as it sounded like she was implying she was into Max....
  • "I Want" Song: The title song, "The Sound of Music", has shades of this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Captain Von Trapp is a very strict father, but knows what's best for them, and found a way for them to escape to Switzerland.
  • Karma Houdini: The butler, Franz, suffers no consequences for betraying the von Trapps to the Nazis. Justified, given that they don't have any way of finding out it was him at the time and their main priority is to escape.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Captain Von Trapp was a member of Europe's noble caste and served by tradition, making him almost a literal as well as a figurative example of this. However, after the end of the Austrian Monarchy, the use of aristocratic titles was (and still is) forbidden in Austria (though not for informal use), so his name at that time would have been just Captain Trapp. Alternatively, this could be Warrior Prince.
  • Longing Look: Maria is undeniably giving one of these to the Captain as he sings "Edelweiss" with Liesl. After that scene, he starts giving them to her, too.
  • Love at First Sight: Maria tells the Captain she started loving him "when you first blew that silly whistle". He in turn says it was when she "sat on that pinecone", both of which happened soon after they met.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: For the Baroness in the musical, she ultimately breaks off her engagement to the Captain when he refuses to bend to the Nazi will, even by pretending. She's heartbroken, but she knows they won't be happy together when the Reich rolls in.
  • Love Triangle: The Captain, who is in love with both Maria and the Baroness, who in turn are both in love with him.
  • Magical Nanny: One of the classic examples, played by the same actress as the other one, no less. Maria comes to the household, improves the life of everyone and marries the father of the children she's taking care of.
  • Manic Pixie Dreamgirl: Maria to the Captain.
  • Marry the Nanny: The show has the lively nun Maria, who comes to the home of Captain Von Trapp to be governess to his seven children. She was kind to them and brought music back into the household. This caused him to begin to fall in love with Maria and they soon married.
  • Meaningful Echo: The first time someone sings "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" to Liesl is her crush Rolf, giving her advice about boys. The second time the song is sung to her, it is from Maria, now her mother, giving her advice about love.
  • Mentor:
    • The Reverend Mother for Maria.
    • Maria for Liesl.
  • Mood Whiplash: Transitioning immediately from the wedding, to Nazi troops marching into Salzburg with the Anschluss.
  • Musicalis Interruptus:
    • "Maria" comes to a pause when Maria herself rushes in after returning from the hills.
    • The musical number "My Favorite Things" ends abruptly when Maria bumps into the Captain (after the line "When the dog bites" no less.)
    • The Captain does this to himself while singing "Edelweiss" because he is so overcome with emotion.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Thankfully subverted. Captain Von Trapp hates the Nazis, as did most Austrian and German/Prussian aristocrats in Real Life.
  • Neutral Austrians with No Navy: Captain Von Trapp served with the Imperial Austrian Navy; the Empire of Austria-Hungary's territory extended to the Adriatic Sea, until the post-war reparations reduced Austria to the point where it no longer had a seashore, and even though he is tempted by the offer to join the Navy, he ultimately turns it down because he can't stand the Nazis and instead helps Maria and his children to cross the border and escape for Switzerland.
  • No Music Allowed: Due to the death of his wife, Captain von Trapp enforces this trope and runs his household as if it was one of his ships. When she arrives for her job as governess, Maria upends his authoritarian lifestyle by teaching the children about music. Upon hearing the children sing, the Captain allows music to return to the von Trapp household.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • When she first meets them, the Von Trapp children sneak a frog into Maria's pocket, which shocks her. According to Frau Schmidt, they pulled the same prank against Fraulein Helga using a snake.
    • The Captain tells Maria when they meet that he hopes she'll be more successful than the last governess, who only stayed for two hours. It's anybody's guess as to how that happened.
  • Nuns Are Funny: Maria's inability to fit into both the overly strict convent and Von Trapp household; the nuns themselves also run on high doses of The Comically Serious.
  • Nun Too Holy: Maria is a mild example; her carefree spirit is a poor fit for the abbey, but she is clearly devoted to her faith.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Captain von Trapp, who was formerly a sea captain.
  • Off to Boarding School: "Darling, haven't you ever heard of a delightful little thing called boarding school?"
  • Oh, Crap!: A hilarious example happens in the middle of "I Have Confidence". Maria has been building herself up to a fantastic crescendo, "They will look up to ME! AND MIND ME!" But as she approaches the gate, the tempo slows and she gets much, much softer — and when she reaches the gate, she looks inward and says, "Oh, help." Then as she passes through the gate, she gets her confidence back.
  • One-Steve Limit: In Real Life, one of Captain von Trapp's daughters was also named Maria; in the musical, she becomes a Louisa instead.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: In a meta sense with the stage-based musical and the film; while the former is always popular, the latter is SO much more famous and well-known that, when watching the play for the first time, people can often get confused and put off by the original locations of some of the songs e.g. My Favorite Things being sung by Maria and the Reverend Mother.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Marta wants a pink one for her birthday.
  • Parental Substitute: Maria becomes one of these towards the von Trapp children and officially becomes their mother once she marries their father.
  • The Runt at the End: Invoked by the Captain who lets his kids march about in the order of their age.
  • Real Person Cameo: The real Baroness Maria von Trapp and her granddaughter walk past during the "I Have Confidence" number.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • The Captain was in the Austrian Navy. But wait, isn't Austria landlocked? It was in 1938 but not in 1914, when Austria owned Croatia and had a small but well-trained and well-equipped navy dominating the Adriatic Sea. The Captain was one of Austria-Hungary's most illustrious World War I heroes at sea. He commanded two submarines, the U-5 and U-14, and conducted 19 war patrols during which he sank 11 enemy merchantmen, captured a French armored cruiser and an Italian submarine, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
    • The Maria Theresa order, by the way, is a partial example of this trope. According to legend you get that medal by succeeding in defiance of orders. That is amusing but only partly true. The medal is for "initiative" not disobedience - said initiative can (but is not required to) include initiative in disobediance of orders, extraordinary success being the justification. And it is true that such disobedience would probably lead to a court martial if the maneuver were less successful.
    • The whistles were real. In real life, Captain von Trapp had a weak voice. He did not however drill them as if they were in the navy. The family used the whistles to locate each other and communicate across their vast property. The whistles could be heard from one corner to the other, instead of spending hours hunting down a child. They used them as an effective method of communication up until their departure from the country.
  • Recitation Handclasp: The girl assume this posture during the recital at the festival. Friedrich and Kurt keep their hands by their sides instead.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The von Trapps escape their Nazi "escorts" by... walking out the door while singing "So Long, Farewell..."
  • Remaster: The 45th Anniversary Blu-Ray looks so detailed that you can clearly see each individual blade of grass.
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: After the family escapes after singing in the concert, the announcer introduces them several times before someone else yells that they're gone.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor
    • Discussed by Elsa and Max in "How Can Love Survive."
    Max: In all the famous love affairs the lovers have to struggle... while lovers who are very rich, you very seldom hear of
    Elsa: How can love survive?
    • Elsa is the rich suitor whose politics are not compatible with the Captain's, and Maria is the poor suitor who brings music back into his life. Guess which one the Captain picks.
  • Rule of Cool
    • In Real Life, they simply got on a train to Italy. The musical/movie's method of escape gives a better climax - tying in with the "Climb Every Mountain" reprise - and the film provides prettier visuals.note  But it also fails logic, since they're walking in the direction of Hitler's mountain retreat, and a division of the SS.
    • In the play, Rolf calls a false alarm without any actual prompting, once he realizes that he'd bear the burden of Liesl's possible death. In the movie, Georg has to go out and put Rolf in his place.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: When Maria goes off to be alone and the song number "Climb Every Mountain" happens.
  • Scenery Porn: The film takes full advantage of its location, showing us Salzburg in all its wonderful sunny glory. And then there are the mountains, especially the long shots during the introduction and the family crossing over the border to Switzerland at the end.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In the stage version, the Mother Abbess gleefully sings "My Favorite Things" with Maria, and gives her permission to sing as she pleases on her way out; although it's forbidden in the Abbey, she's the head, and no one can really say anything to her about it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Maria's unseen predecessor got so fed up with the children's behavior that she quit within two hours of being hired.
  • Second Love: Maria, for the Captain.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Captain Von Trapp and the Baroness muse on the merits and liabilities of pink lemonade in the film version.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Liesl after she's caught out in the rain while with Rolfe.
  • Smash the Symbol: When Captain Von Trapp returns from the honeymoon, he discovers a Nazi flag flying in front of his home, and he immediately rips it to shreds.
  • So Much for Stealth: They almost fooled the search party inside the abbey, but then Liesl spotted Rolfe...
  • Stepford Smiler: In the film, the Captain is a depressed Smiler when Maria leaves. He cheerfully explains Maria's departure to the children, then immediately asks the Baroness for a drink of "lemonade".
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: At the end, Sisters Margaretta and Berthe confess they have sinned to the Reverend Mother by showing her that they took out the engine components from the Nazis' cars to help the von Trapps escape.
  • The Stool Pigeon: In the film, Rolfe is a literal whistleblower on the von Trapp's escape.
  • Taking the Veil: Maria tries to pull this, and is sent firmly back.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: Liesl sends the telegram "Dear Rolfe. Stop. Don't stop!"
  • Think Happy Thoughts: "My Favorite Things".
  • Those Two Guys: Sisters Margaretta and Berthe are a recurring pair at the abbey, and are the most obvious contrasts in personality (Margaretta is sweet-natured and likes Maria, Berthe is cantankerous and finds Maria's antics unsuitable for a nun). They're also the ones who sabotage the Nazis' cars to stop them from pursuing the von Trapps.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The main antagonists.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Max, after spending the entire musical/film being pleasant and accommodating to the German occupation, takes a serious risk by helping the von Trapps escape. The 2013 live version makes it darker. After it's announced the Von Trapps have escaped, Max is shown being seized and dragged offstage by Nazi officials, presumably to face Redemption Equals Death.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Climb Every Mountain" is sung by an unseen choir as the Von Trappes literally climb their way out of Austria.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Two nuns reveal to their Mother that they have removed the distributor and coil (respectively) from the Nazis' automobile, the better to keep them from catching the Von Trapp family.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • In reality, Georg and Maria were married in 1927 and Maria only really grew to love Georg romantically after they had married. While she did like him well enough as her employer, she was pressured by the Church into accepting his proposal and giving up her dream of being a nun, and married him for the sake of the children more than anything else. However, she had borne three more kids by the time they left, and she later reflected that "I learned to love him more than I had ever loved before or after."
    • This real passage of time between Georg and Maria's marriage and the Anschluss meant that almost all of the older children were adults by the time they fled from Austria.
    • The 'Von Trapp Family Singers' started because the family was badly in need of money after most of their fortune was lost due to an Austrian banking collapse in 1935; they were encouraged to take part in the 1936 Salzburg Festival, and after winning a prize they went on to perform and tour throughout Europe. They had actually just gotten back from a tour in America when they had to leave Austria permanently.
    • Rather than fleeing from the Nazis in the dead of night and hiking over the mountains to Switzerland, the Captain used the fact that he was born in a part of modern-day Croatia which was occupied by Italy to finagle Italian citizenship for himself and, by extension, his family. Then they simply got on a train to Italy and never came back — although Hitler did order the Austrian borders to be closed literally the day after they got out.
    • It's a fact of local legend that after the stage musical was written, any time it was performed within a couple hours' drive of Stowe, Vermont, Maria von Trapp would attend opening night.
    • The depiction of Georg von Trapp as a stern disciplinarian annoyed his wife, as he was the exact opposite in real life—it was Maria who was the strict one. (She did, however, adore Christopher Plummer.)
    • In the movie, Georg quickly decides to reject the offer of a Captaincy in the Kriegsmarine and leave Austria as soon as possible. He actually anguished over the decision for a while. Technology had made such big strides since World War I, plus he had spent two decades as a sea-captain without a sea but was still a U-boat warrior at heart, that the offer to command a modern submarine was very, very tempting to him. This is in addition to the fact that as an Italian citizen, he was not subject to German conscription.
    • Of all the exaggerations of their lives, Maria commented in her memoirs that the only thing they didn't go far enough on was her behavior at the convent. She always laughingly commented when asked if she was that bad, "I was worse!"
  • Villain Song: Since the Nazis deliberately never sing, the closest thing to this is "No Way to Stop It", in which Max and the Baroness try to get Captain von Trapp to subscribe to the ideology that since the Nazis' invasion will be unstoppable, it's better to simply abide and tolerate their evils, to preserve one's own comfort and health. It is, as described, a song about "amoral political compromising", and is fittingly the only song with sections that have notably dissonant chords. On a smaller scale, the Baroness is also trying to get the Captain to let go of his defiant conviction, so they can marry.
  • The Von Trope Family: The Trope Namer, by way of an Incredibly Lame Pun.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: In a heated argument, Captain von Trapp angrily calls Maria "Captain" before correcting himself.
  • You Are Not Alone: When at the final concert, Captain von Trapp's voice breaks when singing "Edelweiss" as he is surrounded by Nazi propaganda. Maria and the children join with him and give him the strength to carry on. Made stronger in the movie when the audience joins in with them, including several Nazi soldiers.

Climb ev'ry mountain
Ford ev'ry stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your... dream!