The Sound of Music : Feminist point of view

Feminist point of view

I want to know what's up with this scene. In this movie there is one specific scene where Liesel Von Trapp, the oldest girl, is speaking (or rather singing) with Rolfe Gruber. One of Rolfe’s opening lines are “Your life, little girl, is an empty page that men will want to write on.” Which infers that only a man will be able to make something of Liesel’s life and make it something exciting but that shouldn’t be the case. One of his following lines is “Totally unprepared are you, to face a world of men.” Which almost translates to saying “You are too fragile to be out in a world of males.” His next line is “Timid and shy and scared are you of things beyond your ken.” Ken means “knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception.” This infers that she’s not smart enough to do her own thing. Then this smart aleck says “You need someone older and wiser, telling you what to do. I am seventeen going on eighteen, I will take care of you.”. Liesel replies with “I am sixteen going on seventeen, I know that I’m naïve.” So she’s admitting here that she doesn’t have experience and she doesn’t have good judgment. When she continues, she basically confirms everything he says and she states that she will definitely need to depend on him. What is being shown in this movie is this girl is not even strong enough to even take care of herself and needs someone to babysit her. Imagine if a young girl from 2016 were to watch this movie and see that this is the role girls need to play. This type of messaging from Hollywood is not the norm any longer. This is not the right idea to send to girls.

Re: Feminist point of view

This was a movie set in 1938. Times were different then. Also, I highly doubt young girls would get anything from this scene except a lovely song sung by two love struck teenagers.

Are You Serious?

Are you seriously expecting Rolfe Gruber, a 17-year-old Hitler Youth of 1938 (and one of Salzburg's most promising Nazis), to espouse feminism?


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Re: Are You Serious?

I wanted to say "Sic 'em//Seek 'em" Thanks.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Feminist point of view

I just rewatched for the first time in over ten years and I was thinking the same thing. A lot has changed since then! It's crazy how women just depended on men. Later on when she sings with Maria, they sing about how the life you thought you would have will grow dim. Then, you will be someone's wife and BELONG to them. This was the idea in 1938. We have come a long way since then!

Re: Feminist point of view

So, because of this, you think the movie is not worthwhile viewing? Don't you think Maria's story counters whatever negatives you saw in that one song? She's a strong woman who is her own person and can go head to head with the Captain. It always gets me when people watch an old movie - particularly a period drama - with a contemporary lens and wonder things weren't more politically correct.

Re: Feminist point of view

liesle's boyfriend is singing from his own point of view, he's not expressing a universal truth. we are meant to be amused at the absurdity of him calling himsefl 'older and wiser' when he's only actually a year older than liesel. We're not supposed to agree with his valuation of himself. remember also that he is a nazi, and surely you can see that he is not meant to be taken seriously.

Re: Feminist point of view

Wow, are you off base!

Lack of knowledge is ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity. I hold a doctorate and I'm ignorant of a vast ocean of subjects, from nuclear physics right down to how my car's engine works. You say Liesl's lack of knowledge means she's "not smart" but ignorance has no relationship with being smart or stupid. Stupidity means you can't learn. Ignorance simply means you haven't learned yet. Liesl is 16 so there are many things she hasn't learned yet. But she's depicted as a smart girl who is young and, as she says, naive.

As for Rolf calling her "...an empty page that men will want to write on.” that's a pretty terrific compliment! Men will find her attractive, nice, smart and interesting (as he does) and they'll want to be part of her life. And at 16, in the protected world of her family, of course she hasn't learned yet how to deal with men. Rolf is her first boyfriend!

It's a sweet, lovely song about a girl starting to blossom and enter the larger world that's coming. Twisting every word and phrase, and rewriting the song as you have done to reflect your own prejudices, does not change the song or the movie one whit. I was glad to let both my daughters watch this movie, and more than once, because there are so many positive life factors in it.

And so much beautiful music! Can you watch Mother Superior sing Climb Every Mountain without being moved?

Re: Feminist point of view

I would only add to Squire's true comments that "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" was one of Rodgers' excellent melodies.

Re: Feminist point of view

i don't think the song is meant to be seen just as sweet and lovely. i think we are meant to see the humour in a boy of seveteen describing himself as 'older and wiser' than a girl of sixteen. he is clearly rather conceited, and the fact that he becomes a nazi. I think suggests we are not paeticularly meant to take his words seriously.

Re: Feminist point of view

You have got to be kidding. It is a song in a musical.

Re: Feminist point of view

"Totally unprepared am I to face a world of men...

I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do... I'll depend on you."


It was young love, and as another poster said, it was 1938. Don't apply your experience from this century and your current age, with what went on in pre-WWII Austria.

Jeez.
###

Re: Feminist point of view

Thanks leader for defending one of my all time favorite movies. Waiting for them to criticize The Wizard of Oz next. Maybe they will say Auntie Em should be brought up on murder charges in the film for landing on the Wicked Witch. Jeez...is right. It was 1938.

Re: Feminist point of view

And for me, The Wizard of Oz is my all time favorite movie. :-) Someone of course, will have said something stupid about it. Hm. I think I'll glance over at that message board right now, before opening up Y&R and see what mess happened yesterday!

###

Re: Feminist point of view

the ending of Wizard of oz really annoys me. i hate it that it turns out to be all a dream. it wasn't a dream in the book.

Re: Feminist point of view

I meant to say Dorothy above...Auntie Em was in my brain at the moment

Re: Feminist point of view

I first saw this when I was five, which would have been in 1999. And to my childish mind, they were both very grown up. Then as I got older, I realized that the song really showed how immature they both were. Liesel didn't know much about the world or about men, but Rolfe was equally ignorant. A 16 year old was more of a child in those days--certainly more innocent. If you want to see a real man and woman in the story, you look at Maria and Captain Von Trapp. Maria was no ignorant, timid, little doormat. She was brave and clever and she spoke her own mind. But it was Captain Von Trapp who did take care of his family and they did depend on him. And that's not some sort of insult to Maria or to women in general.

Anyway, girls (and boys) should be taught the difference between movies and real life before they start watching movies. It's not like it's a difficult concept only graspable by children in their upper teens.

Re: Feminist point of view

The point of the scene is actually FOR US, THE VIEWING AUDIENCE, to realize what a jerk he actually is.

His words to her in this song are actually very patronizing towards her. He basically calls her a BABY here, just because she is a year younger than he is.

Poor ol' Liesl is so enamoured with him, she cannot even notice the condescending tone of his words.

The movie was actually giving us a foretaste of what was to later come, with Rolfe & her family. When he became a Nazi, she became completely irrelevant to him, & then in the final scene when he betrays her family, he does so, because her father calls him "just a boy...." What was okay for him to describe Liesl, was not okay for her father to describe HIM.

Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

Re: Feminist point of view

I don't mind "Sixteen Going On Seventeen", as it is clearly meant to be ironic, judging from Liesl's body language. The girl is definitely neither timid, shy, or scared!

"..that men will want to write on" sings Rolfe.
"To write on..." repeats Liesl, seductively walking her fingers up his arm. Note his shocked look!

Rolfe tries to fit her into an archaic gender ideal, she clearly doesn't fit it, but plays along because she has a crush on him.

Actually, even today it can be controversial for a woman to openly show sexual desire. Some seem to find it threatening. Liesl is no femme fatale, though, she's just a teen who wants her first kiss (and gets it). It's innocent and can be played for laughs.

Throughout the movie, Liesl, as well as Maria (and the baroness, for that matter) are strong, opinionated, nuanced characters. Not bad for 1965, I'd say.

I do mind, however, when in the later reprise of this song, Maria, the likable main character that you're meant to agree with, sings that when you marry, you belong to your husband. That scene is much worse! I love the movie to death, but that scene always makes me cringe and want to throw something at the screen, lol. It's the only scene I'm not looking forward to show my daughter when she's old enough to see the movie.

-----------------------
"The best fairytale is one where you believe the people" -Irvin Kershner

Re: Feminist point of view

LOL. Just remember the 1938 setting and tell your daughter things were different back then. Also, Maria was a devout catholic and most likely followed the Bible, including the "wives, submit to your husbands" verse.

Re: Feminist point of view


I do mind, however, when in the later reprise of this song, Maria, the likable main character that you're meant to agree with, sings that when you marry, you belong to your husband.


We have to keep in mind that those are the words of a lyricist writing about a specific character who lived in 1938 Austria. "The Sound of Music" isn't a guide on how women should live their lives in the 21st century; it's a dramatic work about a pre-WWII woman who renounced the cloistered life to spend the rest of her days with the man she loved. And those are the exact sentiments that particular woman WOULD have.

(Of course, many who were acquainted with Maria von Trapp knew that though she genuinely believed she "belonged" to Georg, she often acted as if she were the driving force behind the entire family - which, according to most reports, she undoubtedly was.)

Re: Feminist point of view


We have to keep in mind that those are the words of a lyricist writing about a specific character who lived in 1938 Austria. "The Sound of Music" isn't a guide on how women should live their lives in the 21st century; it's a dramatic work about a pre-WWII woman who renounced the cloistered life to spend the rest of her days with the man she loved. And those are the exact sentiments that particular woman WOULD have.

Well, I never said it was unrealistic, just that I dislike it. In fact, judging from the actual prominence of those kind of attitudes among 1930s Catholics, I find it a wonder that that's the only scene I dislike, the only scene I find offensive as a modern woman.
Like I said (if you'd read my entire post), not bad for a movie from 1965 (that takes place in 1938).

-----------------------
"The best fairytale is one where you believe the people" -Irvin Kershner

Re: Feminist point of view

I did read your entire post.

And if you actually felt what Maria said was realistic, I don't understand why you'd want to "cringe," "throw something at the screen" and not look forward to showing it to "my daughter when she's old enough to see the movie."

Why can't you simply explain to her that what's being shown on screen is simply a depiction of how a particular woman felt in 1938? And that when Maria says she "belongs" to her husband through the sacrament of matrimony (which in turn means he "belongs" to her), it doesn't mean she's a servile doormat who no longer thinks for herself. After all, even though there's a lot of dramatic invention in the film, the movie makes it clear Maria was never the type of individual who'd merely submit to being someone else's possession.

Re: Feminist point of view


I do mind, however, when in the later reprise of this song, Maria, the likable main character that you're meant to agree with, sings that when you marry, you belong to your husband. That scene is much worse!


Have you ever noticed that Maria seems to change quite a bit after she marries? She's the focus of the first part of the movie and is spirited, brave, brash, outspoken, and fun. But when the movie switches gears and focuses on the captain, Maria is relegated to the background and becomes almost completely silent. In that way, The Sound of Music almost seems like two different movies stitched together. And it's sort of weird how, when Maria is single, her life is exciting, confusing, and challenging, but after she's married, her character all but disappears.

Re: Feminist point of view



Have you ever noticed that Maria seems to change quite a bit after she marries?
I've never thought of that, no. She's quieter and less front-and-center, but that could have at least two other explanations as well:
-Having settled down and found happiness makes her calmer and more content
-The story just isn't about her anymore at that point. It isn't about the Captain either, though. Like you said, it's like two movies stitched together. The first part is about Maria facing choices for her life. Kind of a coming-of-age angle. The second part is about the family vs. the Nazis, and is much more action-oriented.

Either way, I feel that part of the movie is too short and dramatic to conclude about any changed character for Maria. We also see her be resourceful, like in the car scene. Only thing that doesn't sit well with me, is the aforementioned scene where she advises Liesl that a wife belongs to her husband. Then again I strongly dislike that scene (not just because of that line, but because they seem to want to rub it in our faces that Liesl likes calling Maria mother. It just sounds off and overly idyllic. Any girl who lost her mother that old, would have trouble calling her Dad's new wife "mother", no matter how well they got along, or how much she loved her stepmother. Why not just acknowledge that?).

-----------------------
"The best fairytale is one where you believe the people" -Irvin Kershner

Re: Feminist point of view

In the movie they play it for laughs, as Rolf is super busy warning her about the perils of being a young woman, while Liesel is throwing herself at him, eager to experience these perils with Rolf. She's eagerly going along with what he says, alternately saying "Yep, my life - they'll want to write on it!" and "Yep, YOU better be the one." He finally kisses her at the end, which is what she was after. They did a little of having each act opposite to what they were singing.

Re: Feminist point of view

In addition to behaving with racist brutality that defied description, the Nazis were chauvinist pigs who believed that the majority of their women belonged in the home, not out in the world maintaining a career. This is what they despised about Jewish women, the majority of whom were University-educated, certainly pre-feminist, and progressive-minded.

Re: Feminist point of view

Most people believed married women belonged in the home in those days, it was not an uncommon point of view. And i think t's a bit of an exggeration to say that most Jewish women were university educated and had careers - the majority of people, men as well as women, did not go to university in those days, And certainly orthodox jews had a strong tradition of women as wives and mothers rather than career women. And the majority of people - again men as well as women - had jobs rather than careers. not every job is super exciting and intellectually stimulating, and being at home with your children is not necessarily a fate worse than death. looking after children does require some intelligence, you know. And why is the home not considered part of the world? how are you more in 'the world' if you are in an office or factory or school rather than your own home?

Re: Feminist point of view

Perhaps the OP is over thinking this.

Re: Feminist point of view

Better to learn this early than make the same mistake for your coworkers to witness. Infer is the receiving of ideas/info/ Imply is the transmitting.
Rolf doesn't just imply. He states his opinions openly. Unlike all of us, this fictional character has known Liesl for months or weeks and can attest to her naivete (3 syllables) and Guess what, plenty of teen girls and guys are just as naïve and gullible today. The roués and cads can even use the same old tricks as in 1938 or in centuries past. The ken and experience she's referring to is not STEM research, playing team volleyball and starting a business. It's about knowing when a boyfriend is lying, or a guy is sincere. And while Greta or the other girls may indeed prefer women to a Rolfe, and not need a man for love, Liesl appears to think Rolf is sexy. Also we can't change her opinion and dismiss her wishes and feelings. She's singing freely without her dad glowering at her when she sings it.

Re: Feminist point of view

This is why people don't like feminist anymore.



"Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha (chaching) Whoops!"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XphDXWPBQqE
Top