Theme: Setting the Captives Free
20th Century Fox proclaims The Sound of Music to be the most popular movie musical ever made. Certainly no one would argue that the opening scene of Julie Andrews breaking forth with the title song is one of the most famous scenes in cinema history. Yet for all the people who have watched this famous film, few probably recognize the real heart of the movie. For it is far more than the adaptation of the true story of the Von Trapp family singers. It is a story about setting the captive heart free, about salvation and deliverance from evil. The reason for its incredible popularity is because it touches the spirit within each of us with eternal truth.
The Filling of the Spirit
What precedes Maria's opening song is essential for understanding the film. While the title and credits are being shown something else is actually taking place. The camera is literally flying through the Austrian Alps, and as it does the audience hears the sound of the wind. This is the sound of the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8, Acts 2:2). As the camera and wind come swooping down, they focus on one person, Maria. Her response is to break forth in song1, an overflow of her heart2; a heart that is filled by the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit cannot be contained in a religious box, be it a church, monastery, or convent. Nor can one filled with the Spirit, which is life in its fullest, be satisfied in that box. Hence Maria's problem with the Abbey, and why a wise Reverend Mother sends her out to those who are hurting and poor in spirit - a widower and his motherless children (James 1:27).
The Closed Heart
One of the most significant scenes in the movie is Maria's first encounter with Baron Von Trapp. While waiting for the Baron, Maria enters a beautiful yet empty ballroom. This room is the symbol of the Baron's broken heart. He closed this room when his wife died, banishing all joy, song, and dance; anything that reminded him of her. There is no "life" in him, only rules and whistles, duties and obligations, He wants this room undisturbed because he wants his heart undisturbed. Maria's innocent entry into this room and her dancing before the mirrors is a picture of her entering his heart, and he does not like it.
Setting the Captive Free
Not only has the Baron been imprisoned by the loss of heart, but also so have his seven children. They live not only with their own loss, but also with the fear and rejection of their father. While the Baron is off losing himself with the world (the Baroness), something broken hearts do, Maria goes about setting the hearts of the children free. The play clothes are much more than that; they are symbols of freedom. The picnics, the games, and most of all the songs they learn are reflections of hearts that have been set free, brought to life by the Spirit working through Maria's love.
Why does the Gazebo scene touch the heart so deeply? It is because of the incredible beauty that is found there; a beauty reminiscent of Eden. The purity of the love and romance between Maria and the Baron captured in this scene are a picture or metaphor for the love of Christ and His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27). That is also why their wedding is no ordinary wedding. The church bells peel and the heavenly choir sings because it represents something far greater.
No sooner is the wedding over and the honeymoon takes place than the assault begins. Why is this always the case? It is because it has been this way since Eden. God brought Adam and Eve together to become one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:22-25), and the Serpent (Satan) assaulted them resulting in the fall of the human race and the captivity of their offspring, God's children. While Maria and the Baron are on their honeymoon, the Serpent (Nazi's) take over their home and capture their children.
The concluding scenes of The Sound of Music show the Von Trapp family's escape from the Nazi's and their journey to freedom. It is a beautiful picture of many spiritual truths:
Worldly possessions don't compare with life and freedom.
Hearts set free cannot be imprisoned by evil.
Love overcomes a multitude of fear.
Gates of death are passed through to reach a new kind of life.
The movie concludes where it began on top of the mountains. Maria (one filled with the Holy Spirit) has been used as an instrument of God's grace and love to lead others out of bondage to the world (Baroness) and the power of the Adversary3 (the Nazi's) to do what the Spirit of Christ has always done:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."
Scripture: Luke 4:14-21
1. In Scripture, the filling of the Holy Spirit is often accompanied by ecstatic utterance and/or song (Luke 1:42, Luke 1:67, Ephesians 5:18-19).
2. The lyrics to the song, The Sound of Music, are all about the heart being free.
3. Adversary is another name for the devil (I Peter 5:8).