The Sound of Music : Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

While watching “The Sound of Music”, I wondered if the Baroness was supposed to be a villain. She definitely doesn’t seem to have any interest in the children (she mentions sending them off to boarding school rather than being a mother to them), and this definitely seems to paint her in an unfavorable light. This idea of a widowed father marrying a woman who doesn’t like his kids makes me think of “The Parent Trap”, in which the prospective bride was definitely the villain of the piece. However, in “The Sound of Music”, I don’t really think she’s supposed to be evil (even if she does trick Maria into going back to the convent). I think she’s just the wrong person to marry the captain, and her role in the movie is to be an obstacle to the captain and Maria falling in love (after all, if they fell in love right away, the movie would have been much shorter). So, while she’s not a character you root for, I don’t necessarily think of her as a villain. What do other people think?

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I agree with you. I think that she is from a place in society where she wouldn't have dealt with children or felt comfortable around them. I think she shows great character when she bows out in Act II.

By the way, there is a radio play that tells the story from the point of view of the Baroness, and Maria is the villain in that. It's quite funny, and it shows how easy it is to tip the scales of sympathy.



"You must sing him your prettiest songs, then perhaps he will want to marry you."

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

"I agree with you. I think that she is from a place in society where she wouldn't have dealt with children or felt comfortable around them. I think she shows great character when she bows out in Act II."

Agreed. A distinguished woman of high society would be accustomed to dealing with refined adults, not rowdy youths. Children, although endearing, can be a bit brash- even outright rude- in their statements and actions at times, so it isn't any wonder that the Baroness felt intimidated at the thought of living in such close proximity with so many of them.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I went to "Sing-a-long Sound of Music" a few years ago, and everyone was told to cheer when Maria came on, to "boo" at the Nazis and "hiss" at the Baroness, as though she was some kind of villain. I remember everyone was hissing at the Baroness, and one girl behind me was shouting "Oh come on, she's not that bad!! She's not that bad!!"
I kind-of agree. I wouldn't call her a villain - she just doesn't seem to have much experience with children. Compared with Vicky from "The Parent Trap" who didn't want to have anything to do with Susan and Sharon - at least the Baroness attempts to play a ball game with the kids haha.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?


I remember everyone was hissing at the Baroness, and one girl behind me was shouting "Oh come on, she's not that bad!! She's not that bad!!"


Wow, I think that's awful (and more than a little sexist). Create a three-dimensional female character who isn't the heroine, and you're just supposed to hate her? Just because? Because that's how love triangles work in silly teen fiction and old-fashioned movies?

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

In the original stage version, Elsa Schraeder sang two songs (which were eliminated from the film version), one of which makes it very clear she is considered something of a villainess--or at least something of a vain and thoughtless Nazi demi-collaborator.

Her political stance in "No Way to Stop It", which essentially says 'be flexible, there's no use resisting them', is the final straw (besides the presence of Maria) for the Captain to break off with her. [Why he doesn't end his association with Max Detweiler for holding the exact same opinion, I don't know.]

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

about Max: I think that's why in the movie they have Max make a big deal about how he has no political opinions at all. He appears to be pragmatic, but not in agreement with the Nazis.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I don't see a "villain" in TSOM. She's more of a roadblock for the story.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Classic fairy tales--which this was, effectively--generally have an "evil stepmother" equivalent, and the Baroness basically fills that slot here. While not evil, she is definitely focused on being HIS wife and not THEIR mother.

Thank you, thank you--you're most kind. In fact you're every kind.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Could someone remind me, did she have a name? I don't remember if it is mentioned and the credits just call her The Baroness.






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I did sixty in five minutes once...

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

In the stage version her name is 'Elsa Schrader'

Let Zygons Be Zygons.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

In the dinner table scene, after the Captain receives the telegram, he tells the family that he'll be leaving for Vienna the following day. Louisa asks him: "To visit Baroness Schraeder again?" She's addressed as "Baroness Schraeder" a few more times, specifically after her arrival in Salzburg.

And after the "So Long, Farewell" number, when the Baroness is thrilled that Maria will be returning permanently to the Abbey (or so she thinks), she has a conversation with Max - and he calls her "Elsa." Her first name is heard again in the terrace scene when the Captain realizes he'll have to break off his engagement to her.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

It's hard for me to know if the baroness was supposed to be a villain, or even an evil stepmother figure, but it's clear that Captain Von Trapp rejected her for Maria for a reason; He loved Maria and clearly preferred her over Baroness Schrader.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?


He loved Maria and clearly preferred her over Baroness Schrader.
I don't see her as a villain, more a rival for the captain's affections. She did bow out gracefully when she realised her position as fiancée was about to be supplanted.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

If she were a 'villain' I don't think she would've been given the scene where she accepts that the Captain loves Maria and literally tells him to go to her...

That's a very humanizing scene... full of a little sadness and regret, but acceptance too.

It reminds me of the silly fiance in Twister with Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. She's a bit annoying and problematic, and probably wouldn't end well if she did marry, but when push comes to shove she gracefully lets the man marry the right woman.

Apathy on the rise, no one cares

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I feel sympathy for her. She loved him, but was bitterly disappointed when it became clear that he no longer wanted her. She was heart breakingly stoical and gracious when they separated.

Her attitude to the children was typical of her time and class. She wouldn't have anticipated much contact with them beyond mealtimes. It seems cold now but it was standard, then.

I don't know whether she was based on a real person, but if she was, I hope she married happily eventually.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Yep, she was based on a real person -- Princess Yvonne.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I was reading a blogger's review of "TSoM", and they mentioned that the audience booed, not at the "goose-stepping Nazi's" but at the 'Baroness'. I thought that was rather amusing.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

the Baroness is, if not a villain, then at least not a very sympathetic character. she only pretends to like the children to ingratiate herself with the Captain, but really intends to send them all to boarding school, which is pretty low. I don't think she's very nice.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?


While watching “The Sound of Music”, I wondered if the Baroness was supposed to be a villain.


When I watched this as a kid, I thought she was a villain. Why? Because she was the one standing in the way of Maria and the Captain getting together. As an adult, I don't see her as a villain at all.


She definitely doesn’t seem to have any interest in the children (she mentions sending them off to boarding school rather than being a mother to them), and this definitely seems to paint her in an unfavorable light.


Again, as a kid, I'm inclined to agree. However, as an adult, she's merely a product of the times. She's nobility and wealthy. Noble and wealthy families didn't have much of a hands on role in raising their children. That was just the nature of their world. You see her interact with the children so she doesn't dislike them or want to hurt them. She just plans to do what was often done with children from noble or wealthy families of the day.


This idea of a widowed father marrying a woman who doesn’t like his kids makes me think of “The Parent Trap”, in which the prospective bride was definitely the villain of the piece.


The biggest difference is that Vicky was simply a gold digger. She didn't care for Susan and Sharon or Mitch. She just wanted to marry a wealthy man and have a comfortable life. The Baroness doesn't need the Captain's money. She's wealthy in her own right. She also might lose her title if she marries the Captain. I think she legitimately enjoyed his company and cared for him. Watching her interact with the children after they sing to her, she clearly doesn't hate them or dislike them. She just has no interest in raising them as her own.

And I think that's part of the reason why the Captain favours Maria to the Baroness. She brings music and joy back to his house. She makes him smile and laugh. She clearly adores him and the children. She's probably a lot like his first wife. The Baroness, while probably being a great companion, didn't fill his house with life and love.


However, in “The Sound of Music”, I don’t really think she’s supposed to be evil (even if she does trick Maria into going back to the convent). I think she’s just the wrong person to marry the captain, and her role in the movie is to be an obstacle to the captain and Maria falling in love (after all, if they fell in love right away, the movie would have been much shorter). So, while she’s not a character you root for, I don’t necessarily think of her as a villain. What do other people think?


I completely agree with you! There are lots of obstacals to the Captain, Maria and the children finding happiness. The Captain's stand-off nature, the kids' bratty, neglected disposition, Maria's feelings of obligation to the convent, and, yes, the Baroness are all obstacles that have to be overcome for the family to be re-united.

Lizzie

To love another person is to see the face of God! - Les Miserables

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

As with what Housefan2 posted, I considered the Baroness the villain when I first saw the film. But today,she's my favorite character in the movie. In my opinion, the Baroness serves to remind us that there exists a real world outside the Von Trapp mansion. As a poster previously said about Max, she is pragmatic. In real life, the Von Trapps became the subject of gossip around Salzberg. The Captain, after all, did carry on with the children's young governess, who was a novice nun at that! In the movie, it was up to the Baronness to fix things before the gossip spread. She also serves as an apologist for the sugary scenes by praising Maria with a hint of sarcasm thrown in. ("Is there anything you can't do?")

On the surface, the Baroness and the Captain make an ideal couple. The Baroness wasn't the ideal mother but that wasn't disastrous. The children, after all, were long neglected by their father. They'd have Maria anyway and I think the Baroness would have tolerated her presence. A few jealous fits and nights of throwing ashtrays at the Captain over Maria could always solve things. This she can live with for as long as Maria keeps the children out of her sight.

Credit writer Ernest Lehman and actress Eleanor Parker for making the Baroness accept defeat with dignity when she could have easily been campy. In her final scene in the movie we the audience aren't inclined to say, "You deserve to be dumped." Instead,we smile and admire her courage as she graciously steps aside.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

The Baroness wasn't supposed to be a villain at all. It was clear from the start that the Baroness and Captain Von Trapp wouldn't have made an ideal couple...at all! Captain Von Trapp definitely preferred Maria, and he made it clear to the Baroness that a marriage between him and the Baroness wasn't going to work out. The Baroness wasn't a villain, by any stretch of the imagination, but, unlike Maria, she clearly had no spirit or spunk to her...at all.

I'll also add that, if there were any villains at all in The Sound of Music, they were the Nazis.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I agree with you. Especially with the way Eleanor Parker played her, she gave a sympathetic performance and made the character as likable as she could be.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

In reality she wanted him to marry so she could get back to the abbey; he had proposed to Princess's Yvone three times and she would've sent them to boarding school . He called off the 3rd Engagement when Maria wrote to him and inquired about his marriage; children brought them together to marry

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Yes. I always have.

"Sell me this pen."

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I actually always liked the Baroness. The actress was beautiful and I never saw her as a villain. To be honest I must have been quite dense as a child watching it because I never realised two things growing up, a) that Elsa deliberately made Maria uncomfortable at the dance in order to get rid of her and b) that Franz was a spy for the Nazis.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

What Woman wouldn't start showing her claws when she senses another woman is after her man.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

Re: Franz. You weren't dense. NBC for years showed an edited version where we didn't get to see the scene where Franz pushes aside the curtain to watch from an upstairs window as the von Trapps are pushing their car out of the courtyard. When I finally saw the unedited version, I was like - holy crap - Franz gave them away!

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

The Baroness is not a villain per se. She's an obstacle, she's cynical, and she's poorly matched with Georg. It may have been customary to send children to boarding school, but that was not the custom with the movie Von Trapps. It was a loving, close home filled with laughter - that's what we're told. Boarding school would have frozen over the barrier that had dropped between the Baron and his children after he was widowed. The housekeeper doesn't think too warmly of Baroness Schrader. The implication is she's a mate who'd keep the Captain on the wrong path. It's clear the children miss their father. If he had always been like this, a la the custom of his social class, it would have been normal to them. Instead, they were hurt and always seeking his attention.

Contrary to what I've read, the Baroness in the movie did not bow out gracefully at all. Maria returns. Elsa joins Georg on the balcony ("There you are!") and sees him looking down at Maria. She immediately begins nattering on about their honeymoon. She is desperately trying to avoid the inevitable - that he's going to break it off. He's unresponsive; he won't pick up the conversation. She notices, but keeps babbling on about world travel, honeymoons, wedding presents, and yachts. Finally HE says "Elsa..." - he has to say it a couple of times before she's quiet. He says "It's no use, you and I." and she still says nothing. THEN he says "When two people talk of marriage..." and she knows HE's going to break it, so she tells him not to say anything else. It's pride. She is about to get dumped, she tried her best NOT to get dumped, but when he starts to dump her, he lets her "break up with him."

I read that they changed the scene to this version to make the Captain's choice of Maria more proactive and explicit. In the play, he and Elsa are already becoming alienated over their different views of Nazi Germany. In the movie, that difference is only hinted at when she tells Georg that Rolf is "just a boy," and he says "And I'm just an Austrian!" the movie wanted to be clear he broke up with Elsa because he was in love with Maria, no other reason.

I think it may have been in Charmian Carr's book, because she got access to the notes, but in the correspondence between Christopher Plummer and Ernst Lehman (screenwriter) Plummer emphasizes that the balcony scene should show what happened. He wrote that we'd (the audience) already seen the "glib flow" of conversation between Elsa and the Captain in several scenes, how surfacey it is. And here, Elsa begins that "glib flow again" but we see from his reaction that he is facing his feelings and doing something about it. They really wanted the balcony scene to show that he was committing to his feelings for Maria. That's why Elsa didn't make it easy for him by "bowing out" as she did in the play.

I think this scene is one of the ways Plummer and the screenwriter made the Captain stronger, since in the play he was kind of a doofus and stuff was always happening to him instead of him making decisions. Elsa breaks up with him over his views on Austria, so he's free. Maria runs the show when it comes to their escape. For the movie, they let the Captain own his choices, and actually HAVE choices.

When I look back, I think Plummer's performance is sort of oddball, but it makes it more real, if that makes sense. And I think Eleanor Parker is a bit warmer than written. When Georg is super yelling at the children after their boat capsizes, the baroness stifles a smile - I think at the children, not at him being harsh. There are a bunch of times she, as an actress, is a bit warmer even than Georg.

Even if there had been no Maria, Elsa and Georg would never ever have made it together. Let's say it's he and Elsa returning from their honeymoon in Paris, and Georg sees the telegram ordering him to report to the Third Reich. He's not going to do it. And Elsa sure as hell isn't going to march across the mountains into Switzerland. If Maria hadn't broken them up, events would have.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

She had the HAIR, the JEWELS and the CLOTHES.

I always wanted to be her and no one else.

She's a great drag queen model.

"Don't call me 'honey', mac."
"Don't call me 'mac'... HONEY!"

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I think the ball gown - the gold one with the big tulle puff at the shoulder - is iconic.

Eleanor Parker was very very very VERY thin. And petite. She also had an elegant, high fashion face. The clothes they did for Elsa Schrader were designed to add a little length and some curve to her silhouette. When I look at Parker in other movies, she was so tiny she almost seemed squat. She was easily overwhelmed by wardrobe. I don't think any movie ever did clothes for her as well as the costume designer in SOM. My only objection is the blonde wig. I think her regular real red hair would have been better.

Re: Was the baroness supposed to be a villain?

I never saw her as a villain. She's quite sympathetic and gorgeous.
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