For many reasons, we’re ambivalent about this. Personally, I loved the classic Julie Andrews Sound of Music and see absolutely no reason why it needs to be remade. (Side note: Do, however, see the great dance interpretation Fraulein Maria.) But other members of the Crushable staff brought up a very different reason why this news is upsetting: All a Carrie Underwood remake is gonna do is keep pushing the fake story of Maria von Trapp.
Before today, I had never read the extensive essay Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family. But now it’s like something you can’t unsee, because it reveals what details of the singing, Nazi-escaping clan were true and which ones (most of the movie) were Hollywood alterations. For one, Captain von Trapp was nowhere near as imposing as the movie makes him seem:
Georg, far from being the detached, cold-blooded patriarch of the family who disapproved of music, as portrayed in the first half of The Sound of Music, was actually a gentle, warmhearted parent who enjoyed musical activities with his family. While this change in his character might have made for a better story in emphasizing Maria’s healing effect on the von Trapps, it distressed his family greatly.
And Maria didn’t marry him for love:
As she said in her autobiography Maria, she fell in love with the children at first sight, not their father. When he asked her to marry him, she was not sure if she should abandon her religious calling but was advised by the nuns to do God’s will and marry Georg. “I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. . . . [B]y and by I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.”
But before you start to feel badly for her, consider this account of her temper:
Though she was a caring and loving person, Maria wasn’t always as sweet as the fictional Maria. She tended to erupt in angry outbursts consisting of yelling, throwing things, and slamming doors. Her feelings would immediately be relieved and good humor restored, while other family members, particularly her husband, found it less easy to recover. In her 2003 interview, the younger Maria confirmed that her stepmother “had a terrible temper. . . . And from one moment to the next, you didn’t know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice.”
Yeah, it seems that the movie got Maria and the Captain’s personalities backwards. Turns out that the way you solve a problem like Maria is to completely rewrite her.
Next year’s live broadcast will draw more from the Sound of Music musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959. However, according to the essay, Maria and her family didn’t have much say in either the musical or the movie. Then again, as compelling as their story in general is, the specific details we’ve learned wouldn’t have made for a very interesting, feel-good drama. Here’s Carrie singing “The Sound of Music” from a few years ago:
I’m kind of sad to have learned all this about Fraulein Maria. Remember when life was so much simpler?