As viewers of the 87th Academy Awards recently learned, the film version of "The Sound of Music" is marking its 50th anniversary this year, hence Lady Gaga's unexpectedly tuneful tribute to it-which brought lead star Julie Andrews to grateful and nostalgic tears!
(Adding to Andrews' emotional reaction was the fact that, like our own "national nightingale" Nora Aunor, she has lost her golden voice due to a medical problem that has yet to be fully addressed.)
Younger filmgoers may wonder what all the fuss over "S.O.M." is about. For many old-timers, however, the nostalgic "fuss and bother" over the production's golden anniversary is exceptionally merited.
Movie musicals come and go, but Andrews' starrer has "legs"-as proven by the fact that it was performed live in an NBC special last year, and the telecast was viewed by many millions.
Contrastingly, NBC's follow-up musical special, "Peter Pan," was a comparative dud, which was watched by far fewer viewers.
This goes to show that there's "something special" about "The Sound of Music," so remember and celebrate it, we should!
In the Philippines, the movie musical was a long-running hit when it was first screened, and it ran for months and months in some movie houses. Local viewers loved it so much that some of them watched it over and over again!
The biggest fan of the hit movie was a photographer at UP, who boasted that she had watched it more than 50 times!
What is it about "S.O.M." that elicits such abiding delight from its "diehards"?
First, it's a movie about family, a very popular theme with Filipinos. Next, it has many songs that have become popular through the years, like its sweeping and uplifting theme song, "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things," "Edelweiss," "Climb Every Mountain," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," etc.! If there's a show that many viewers can readily sing along with, this is it!
Relevant to sensibilities
A key factor that's relevant to Filipino sensibilities and preferences is the fact that, like our sarswelas, "S.O.M." is an unapologetic mix or halo-halo of drastically different themes and production and performance styles. It has music, drama, comedy, heroism, spirituality, beautiful European vistas, child performers, class conflict-you name it, the hit show has it-in spades!
The next most popular movie musical of all time? Viewers' differing favorites vie for the runner-up post: "On the Town," "Singin' in the Rain," "Moulin Rouge," "The Phantom of the Opera," "The King and I," "Flower Drum Song," "Oklahoma!" "Carousel," "Man of La Mancha," "Miss Saigon," "Gigi," "An American in Paris," etc.! What's your personal favourite? Add it to our list, why don't you?
On the local film scene, hit musicals are produced only occasionally-which is a pity, since we love all-singing and all-dancing shows, as proven by the popularity of our sarswelas. In fact, some of our early musical films, like "Bituing Marikit," were "filmizations" of stage hits.
In more modern times "Bituing Walang Ningning" was an early showcase for Sharon Cuneta's musical and acting ability. In the '70s, Nora Aunor starred in some musical films like "Guy & Pip" and "As Long As There's Music," and even Joseph Estrada top-billed a period musical-comedy, "King Khayam and I," that featured some original songs by Levi Celerio.
More recently, of course came the Apo Hiking Society musical, "I Do Bidoo Bidoo" and "Boses"-but many more are needed, like the film version of "Rak of Aegis"-don't you think?