A Critque on Things Cut from “The Sound of Music” film.

So, I adore The Sound of Music. I grew up on it. When I was three, I used to ride around my house on my tricycle yelling “They’re gone!” like the soldier did at the end of the festival scene when the Von Trapps escaped to the convent. I know most of the words to all of the songs by heart. So, I really adore the film. That being said, some… interesting changes were made when adapting the stage musical into the film. For some reason, the whole thing was made about an hour longer than it was on stage. Several songs were added to the film and a number were taken away. Herein lies my problem with the movie: two of the cut songs were integral to the plotline of the story and ridding the film of them damages the subplot of Captain Von Trapp and Baroness Elsa Schräder’s failed romance. 

How Can Love Survive?
Max and Elsa have two songs in the stage musical, both of which are cut from the film version of The Sound of Music. The first of these songs, How Can Love Survive? examines the “challenges” Elsa and the Captain face in their relationship as two wealthy people. It really serves as a form of foreshadowing their ultimate demise (that’s covered in the other cut song, No Way to Stop It). In the song, Max and Elsa joke that every good romance involves a wealthy person and a poor person and since both Elsa and the Captain are wealthy, their love is ultimately doomed, so how are they to survive? It’s mostly a filler song but it serves an important purpose: develop the Baroness’ character. The film spends absolutely no time on this, instead, it paints her as this caricature of the “wrong woman” for the Captain. She’s portrayed to the audience in the film as airy and stuck up while in the musical she’s presented as intelligent, somewhat manipulative, and willing to do anything in order to survive. This is important to her character and by cutting this song, and the scene that accompanies it, the film robs the audience of all that makes Elsa an interesting character in the stage version.

No Way to Stop It
The biggest problem in the film is that it cut out this song. It’s the song that really hammers that final nail in the coffin of Captain Von Trapp’s relationship with the Baroness. Throughout the musical is this undertone of the forthcoming Nazi takeover of Austria. Captain Von Trapp is a patriotic Austrian who’s very against any kind of German takeover of his country. Max and Elsa, on the other hand, feel like whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen and there’s no point in fighting against it. This is the fatal flaw in Captain Von Trapp’s relationship with Elsa and it’s foreshadowed throughout the stage version. The film, however, tries to tone down the Nazi imagery and undertones as much as possible, possibly in order to make it as marketable as possible. But the film suffers for it. The musical gives the Captain and the Baroness a reason to split up: their ideals don’t match. Elsa is ambivalent towards a Nazi occupation and Captain Von Trapp is fervently against it. In the film, their breakup just sort of happens. It’s chalked up to the Captain’s feelings for Maria, which isn’t inaccurate, but it’s really a mixture of that and the Captain’s long-simmering resentment towards Elsa’s ambivalence towards the Nazis.

The film elects to get rid of both of these songs for no discernible reason. Normally, the excuse would’ve been for time constraints, but as the film is three hours long – an entire hour longer than most productions of the stage version -, it’s hard to argue that it’s for time reasons. Perhaps the actress who portrayed Elsa in the film couldn’t sing, but even that’s a lousy reason as it was common place in the ’60s to dub over actors/actresses who couldn’t sing with the voice of someone who could (check My Fair Lady for proof). So, the best reason I can come up with is that the filmmakers didn’t want the film to have a song that basically said: “Well, the Nazis are gonna take over Austria anyway, so, we might as well let them.” And that’s a shame as it’s really an integral part of the story. The whole musical is about a family who finds love during the impending/beginnings of the Nazi occupation of Austria and eventually escapes the country instead of risking that love so the Captain could fight in the German navy. By trying to wash out that element of the story, the film does a massive disservice to the real Von Trapps. Yeah, much of the movie is fictional, but the real Von Trapps really did escape Austria to avoid the Nazis; pretending the Nazis weren’t a large factor in their lives is foolish. The film tries to avoid it as much as possible. Yes, there’s the scene where Captain Von Trapp rips a flag with a swastika on it, but that’s really the most explicit thing in the film. The rest of it is relegated as far into the background as possible, and it’s a disservice to the source material.

It’s a shame both of these songs were cut from the movie (and were replaced with an obscenely large amount of dialogue heavy scenes that went around in circles and didn’t come anywhere close to developing the characters in the way that these two songs did.) Both No Way to Stop It and How Can Love Survive? further develop the characters of Max and Elsa, allowing them to feel more three dimensional than they do in the film. Both songs also add to the ominous atmosphere that living in the early stages of the Nazi occupation of Austria must have had. Trying to scrub away this important aspect of the source material is really a lesson in how not to adapt a stage musical. Cutting subplots for no reason (when you’re not concerned about time) is just lousy, lazy, and disrespectful. I adore The Sound of Music movie, but it really should’ve gotten rid of the extra hour of material it added to the runtime and kept those two songs from the stage show. It would’ve been a better movie for it.

12 thoughts on “A Critque on Things Cut from “The Sound of Music” film.

  1. I know this might sound crazy, but I honestly did see the stage show after the movie. Since I saw the movie first, I have nothing wrong with the cut songs because of my love for the movie before seeing the stage show. I love the Sound of Music to be honest and I love the songs that are honestly in the songs that are part of the movie


    • Doesn’t sound crazy! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion! I, too, saw the movie long before I saw the stage version. I love most of the additions and changes the movie made tbh. I just wish they’d kept those two specific songs in. I’m partial to them after seeing how impactful they can be when used well. But I understand how people can totally not be bothered about it as well. It’s individual tastes.

      Thank you for your thoughts! I liked hearing them 🙂


      • When I heard them in the stage show, I was kind of confused by them because I honestly did not quite understand them at all. I grew up on the movie and never once saw the stage show so I never saw the stage show so I never heard the other songs before. So the other songs when I heard them, I did not quite understand them when I heard them in the stage show


      • I was the exact same way the first time I saw the stage show. I didn’t understand why there were all of these different songs in it and I didn’t understand why “I Have Confidence” was missing and things like that. So I totally get your perspective. I have a feeling yours is one that many people have.


      • Sound of Music holds such a special place in my heart. So glad I actually got to see the stage show for the first time two years ago. I don’t care that much for Max or Elsa that much-a lot of that stems from how I viewed Sound of Music as a child


      • That’s my exact problem with the movie lol. It just does a disservice to their characters, because they’re interesting characters in the stage version, but for everybody who grew up on the movie, it’s hard to view them in any other way than how they were portrayed in the movie. If you have no comparison, their portrayal in the movie is fine, but when you have the comparison, it just makes you long for what could’ve been. Or at least that’s how it makes me feel, lol


      • Even in the stage show, I care the most about the same characters I care the most about in the movie. I feel like a child watching the movie and the stage show. It happens a lot it seems in musicals: you know you have the characters you care the most about it seems


      • Oh yeah. I’m not saying I CARE about Elsa or Max tbh. I still find them pretty bad people – Elsa more than Max – but the stage show at least gives them some extra dimension, ya know?
        But you’re right.


      • I always found Elsa and Max uninteresting so both versions never found complexity in them. I guess because I don’t care much about them to begin with, I don’t put my focus in on them, that I focus on the Captain, the children, and Maria more often


  2. Having seen the stage play first, I was surprised that those two songs were not in the movie. I thought it might be because Eleanor Parker and Richard Haydn couldn’t sing. (I was 10 years old and didn’t know they dubbed voices in the movies until West Side Story). Since then I have been disappointed in omitted characters, shortened or completely cut songs, story lines changed, omitted scenes, etc., but have always forgiven them all because, at the end of the day, (or in this case, the movie), I have seen and heard most of what I was expecting and chalked up the differences to artistic license and went on my merry way, usually singing my heart out.


  3. “How Can Love Survive” actually did make it into the film version as an instrumental waltz in the party scene at the von Trapp home.


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