5 Plot Point Breakdown: The Sound of Music (1965)

By Anthony Faust · October 16, 2016

Screenplay Genre: Drama/Biography

Movie Time: 174 minutes


Set in the late 1930s, Maria (Julie Andrews), a nun at an Austrian convent, is sent to be a governess for the distinguished Von Trapp family. Maria is a carefree, kindred spirit, often escaping the convent to sing songs on the hills high above Salzburg. Unbeknownst to Maria, this has caused discord among her fellow nuns, especially The Reverend Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood), who senses doubt in Maria’s chosen path. (00:18:10)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

As retired Naval Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) tells Maria to pack her bags and leave for allowing his children to hang from trees, he hears distant singing. He goes inside his mansion and discovers his children singing together. He joins them and the children, the product of strict parenting, enjoy a rare moment of intimacy with their father.

Here we see the first function that music plays in this film. Music liberates the soul. First, Maria from her convent and then, the Von Trapp children from their domineering household.  (01:18:47)


Upon learning of the Captain’s desire to marry Baroness Schraeder (Eleanor Parker), Maria leaves without saying goodbye. Her heart is broken but, instead of acknowledging it, she escapes to seek solace back at the convent. (01:42:20)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Slowly, but steadily, the Captain’s eye has wandered from the Baroness to Maria, who comes back from the convent to follow her heart and see if true love awaits her. Her faith is rewarded as she marries Captain Von Trapp in a lavish ceremony.

Here, the second function of music has been revealed. Music bonds. First, Captain Von Trapp with his children, and then, the Captain with Maria. (02:18:36)


The Von Trapp family tries to escape Salzburg after the Captain receives a letter ordering him to join the Nazi armed forces, which he has no intentions of doing. They are caught, but the Captain is able to convince the Nazi officers waiting outside his mansion that he is taking his family to the Salzburg Festival. The ruse works.

Here, the third, and most important, function of music has been made clear. Music saves. The Von Trapp family’s performance at the Festival wins the top honor, which allows them time to slip away and avoid capture. (02:43:56)

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