Monday, 3 October 2011

Maria vs The Baroness

I caught twenty minutes of The Sound of Music the other day. I used to watch that film continually. It was the only video at my grandparents' house. Apart from Fiddler on the Roof. So it was Nazis or Cossacks or conversation about my family's flight from Baghdad. The Sound of Music had the best tunes.

Also I loved Captain von Trapp (gorgeous Christopher Plummer...he is excellent in Beginners). But is it just me, or is he Rochester again? There he is, scary and brooding, and in comes the governess to wake him up to love (and music) wonder I got the message that women are supposed to redeem men.

Anyway, I'd forgotten how villainous Baroness Schräder is, scheming to snag Captain von Trapp, flirting with the Nazis, trying to get Captain von Trapp to flirt with the Nazis (like he ever would!), hopeless with the children. And after she catches Captain von Trapp, there's an amazing scene. She goes to Maria's room, in the guise of helping her dress for dinner, and opens with the suggestion that she wears "that lovely little thing you were wearing the other evening, when the captain couldn't keep his eyes off you". Maria is alarmed. The Baroness then turns soothing: "Come, my dear, we are women. Let's not pretend we don't know when a man notices us." When Maria says she hasn't done anything to attract him, the Baroness really hits home: "You don't have to, my dear. Nothing's more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him." BOOM! "Don't take it to heart," she continues. "He'll get over it soon enough, I think. Men do, you know." By now, Maria is dragging out her carpet bag with a wild look in her eyes and all the Baroness has to do is deliver the final stinger: "I'm sure you'll make a very fine nun."
It's Classic Bitch Technique. I could have learned a lot from the Baroness. And she can be sweet. Well almost. When she calls herself "just wealthy, unattached little me, searching, just like you", it would be adorable if she hadn't carefully reminded him of her money. And she's hilarious. When Captain von Trapp and the children break into song, her face expresses my nauseous feelings entirely (Edelweiss is the world's sickliest song) and she acidly berates Max for not warning her: "I would have brought along my harmonica"!

And she redeems herself in the end...when Captain von Trapp starts ineptly trying to get out of the engagement (he doesn't come right out and say "I prefer the singing nun with the bad haircut" like a real man would), she says firmly 
I really don't think you're the right man for me. You're much too independent. And I need someone who needs me desperately. Or at least needs my money desperately. I've enjoyed every moment we've had together and I do thank you for that. Now, if you'll forgive me, I'll go inside, pack my little bags, and return to Vienna where I belong. And somewhere out there is a young lady who, I think, will never be a nun. Auf Wiedersehn, darling.
How's that for an elegant and dignified goodbye? And generous too. I started quite liking the Baroness.

1 comment:

  1. I quite like her now, having watched it several million times! Saw it at a cinema in Liverpool a few years back and people started booing when she came on and I got a bit defensive!