The Sound of Music is, at its core, a film about the transformative power of love and compassion in people’s lives. It takes the form of wannabe nun Maria (Julie Andrews), a woman conflicted about her own feelings and emotions, sent to care for the seven children of Captain Georg Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), a staunch retired Naval captain and widow. Maria teaches the Captain how to re-open his heart and embrace the life he has, she teaches the children how to trust and love and instills in them a sense of family and togetherness, and Maria herself finds her true calling in life.
When Maria first meets the Von Trapp children, she’s told “they don’t play - they march.” Their father garnered their attention around the family grounds by tooting on a whistle, to which each child was assigned a specific tone. The Captain’s general attitude towards his children was cold and military. He clearly loved them, but had no idea how to offer his children the affection his late wife had bestowed upon them. In response, the children were well-behaved around their father but otherwise mischievous, resorting to tricks like slipping a frog in Maria’s pocket. They told her she wouldn’t last - the governesses never do.
As the film progresses, Maria teaches the children about music, eventually roping Georg into the family’s musical interest. It’s the basis of the openness and warmth they share as a unit by the film’s end, but it offers a message about the balances one must strive for when raising children. Georg taught the children how to follow rules, how to respect their elders, and how to listen. Maria taught them (and Georg) how to love, how to appreciate every moment of their lives, and how to stand up for themselves against oppression. A harmony of both styles creates a well-rounded atmosphere, and by the end of the picture, the Von Trapp family is as cohesive in their relationship as any family (especially a family of nine) could hope to be.