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Archive for October 18th, 2011

by Sam Juliano

High in the misty Austrian Alps near the Swiss border a camera cropped in a helicopter slowly documents wooded mountains, and blue-green lakes following an airborn path to tranquil valleys and lush green foothills.  The chirping of birds introduce the first remnants of civilization in the form of castles and other architectural wonderments.  In one final breathtaking swoop, the helicopter glides close to the ground and moves in to the fast-appearing figure of a young woman with her arms upraised, commencing in song.

It’s one of the most famous openings in all of cinema, and certainly it’s most visually resplendent and identifiable.  While many baby-boomers could spend the better part of a day discussing their own connection to The Sound of Music, and how it’s cheery world view favorably affected the best part of their own dispositions in those long-ago days, my own indulgence is as all-encompassing and passionate as any other “event” in my life.  I call this an event, rather than a film viewing, as The Sound of Music made the most profound impact on me in my formative years, initiated my longtime crush on Julie Andrews, defined the existence of a local movie theatre, and most significantly made a single innocuous film viewing into a six-month “ritual” that at that time virtually arrested any other interest in my life, capturing my mind and spirit in full Salzburgian mode.  The Fairview Cinema was erected in late 1965 on the southeast corner of a shopping mall parking lot, next to an embroidery factory and diametrically across from an A & P and the most popular community drug store.  It didn’t actually open until February of 1966, but the opening feature, The Sound of Music gave cause for real excitement among the largely blue-collar residents of a predominantly Italian-American northern New Jersey community thirsting for the opportunity to take in prestigious feel-good fare in their own backyard.  As an eleven-year old fifth-grader the stage was set for the introduction of an art form that would ultimately sweep me off my feet and set me on an undaunted mission of cinematic obsession that has persisted to this very day, and was the official beginning of a special reverence for the film musical and appreciation of music as an art form.  Certainly it coincided with, at the very least, my then newfound infatuation with 45s, Elvis, the Four Seasons, the British Invasion and such fashionable chart hits like the Supremes “Baby Love” and “Hey Paula” by Paul & Paula.  But all it took was one look at Julie Andrews dancing in the Austrian Alps, a big screen condemnation of the Nazis, and some cheerful and saccharine songs to bring me to a state of wide-eyed adoration that would even please Jim Jones.  (more…)

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