The Sound of Music Film Synopsis


Salzburg, Austria, 1938. A postulant, Maria, stands atop a hill, singing at the top of her voice. This is where she goes when her “heart is lonely” (“Prelude/The Sound of Music”). Maria races back to the Abbey, where nuns are at prayer. Sister Berthe, Sister Sophia and Sister Margaretta see Maria running (and tripping) late past them (“Overture/Preludium (Dixit Dominus) / Morning Hymn / Alleluia”). They are unsure whether Maria is prepared for a life of obedience and humility (“Maria”). Mother Abbess calls Maria to her quarters and, in an effort to help her mature, sends her away from the Abbey to serve as temporary governess to the seven children of a former naval officer, Captain Georg von Trapp. Uneasy about the coming challenge, Maria musters her courage as she approaches the von Trapp Villa (“I Have Confidence”).

Maria arrives and discovers that the Captain has, since the death of his wife, closed himself off emotionally. The children march but, despite a few welcoming pranks on Maria, do not play.  That evening, after dinner, the oldest child, Liesl, sneaks away to meet Rolf, a local mail boy who’s caught up in the political fervor of the times. Warning her of the dangers of her innocence, he offers himself as a suitable protector. In the gazebo, sheltered from the rain, she accepts ("Sixteen Going On Seventeen"). Liesl returns through Maria’s window just as a loud thunderstorm causes the frightened children to seek out Maria in her bedroom, where she diverts their attention and calms their fears ("My Favorite Things”).

While the Captain is away, Maria gains the children’s trust and takes them off on a picnic, where she teaches them the joys of music (“Do-Re-Mi”). The Captain returns a month later with Baroness Elsa Schraeder, a sophisticated Viennese widow who runs her late husband’s corporation. They are accompanied by Max Detweiler, Third Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture, who is on the hunt for the perfect local singing group to perform at the annual Kaltzberg Festival. Elsa finds it charming in the provinces but is frustrated that the Captain has yet to propose to her. When Rolf arrives with a telegram for Max, the Captain affirms his strong loyalties to Austria, his homeland.

Maria and the children arrive soaking wet, wearing play clothes Maria made from old curtains in her bedroom. The Captain is embarrassed and enraged. Maria confronts him and tells him how little he understands his children, and he orders her back to Nonnberg. But when he hears the children singing for Elsa (“The Sound of Music” Reprise), his heart opens up. Moved by Maria bringing music back into his home, he asks her to stay.

As a treat for the Captain, Baroness Schraeder and Max, Maria and the children perform a musical puppet show in classical Austrian fashion (“The Lonely Goatherd”). Having gifted the puppet theater to the children (by sending the bill to the Captain), Max announces he’s enlisted the von Trapp Family as an act in the Kaltzberg Festival Concert. Though initially resistant, the Captain picks up his guitar for the first time in a long time (“Edelweiss”).

The Captain throws a lavish party so the local gentry can meet Elsa (“Grand Waltz”). However, the political divide is widening between those who support the proposed German takeover and those, like von Trapp, who believe in Austrian sovereignty. As the band plays, Maria begins to teach Kurt a traditional Austrian dance (“Laendler”). The Captain steps in to show how it is done. As their arms intertwine, he and Maria recognize the unspoken attraction between them. The Baroness, from afar, takes note as well. Maria breaks away. Meanwhile, it’s time for the children to say goodnight to the party (“So Long, Farewell”).

As the children make their way to bed, Maria receives an invitation to dinner from the captain but isn’t dressed appropriately (“Processional Waltz”). While Elsa helps her find something to wear in her room, she points out the Captain’s clear attraction to Maria. Maria decides she has no choice but to leave and begins to pack her bags (“Goodbye Maria”). Elsa, now back at the party, shares a toast with Max (“How Can Love Survive Waltz”). As the guests dine in the neighboring room, Maria quietly leaves a note in the foyer, fleeing back to the Abbey without saying goodbye (“Edelweiss Waltz”). Intermission (“Entr’acte”).


Without Maria, things just aren’t as joyful as they once were at the von Trapp Villa, despite the Baroness’ attempt at bonding. Max, in anticipation of the upcoming Kaltzberg Festival, rehearses with the children. The Captain notices his children’s’ evident sadness and reminds them that the note Maria left said she missed the Abbey too much and wanted to return. In an unsuccessful attempt to lighten the mood, he shares the news of his engagement to Baroness Schraeder.

The von Trapp children go to the Abbey to see Maria but are turned away by Sister Margaretta, who says Maria is in seclusion. When she is called by Mother Abbess, Maria confesses her love for Captain von Trapp, a feeling she’s never had before. Mother Abbess tells Maria that loving a man is part of God’s work, and that she must live the life she was born to live. She tells Maria that she must return to the family and the Captain (“Climb Every Mountain”).

Back at the von Trapp’s, the children attempt to make themselves feel better (“My Favorite Things” Reprise) when Maria suddenly returns. The children tell Maria about the news of their father’s engagement. Maria tells the Captain that she’s only back to stay until the arrangements for a new governess are made. That evening, Elsa finds the Captain admiring Maria from a balcony. When Elsa approaches the Captain with nonchalant conversation, he admits he doesn’t feel they should be married after all. She then agrees to call off their engagement, and Elsa returns to Vienna.

The Captain finds Maria by the gazebo and asks her to stay for good, confessing his love for her. Moved by her fate and the life she’s found, Maria wonders what she did to deserve such good fortune (“Something Good”).

The nuns of Nonnberg Abbey celebrate the wedding of Maria Rainer and George von Trapp (“Processional and Maria: The Wedding”). But while Maria and the Captain are away on their honeymoon, the Anschluss occurs; Austria is annexed by Nazi Germany. Max, knowing he doesn’t have the Captain’s warrant, has been readying the children for their performance at the Festival.

When the Captain and Maria return, the Captain tears down the flag of the Third Reich. (“You mean the flag with the black spider on it?” asks Brigitta.) The von Trapp house is the only one in the province not flying it. The Captain remains steadfast in his refusal to allow his family to perform on behalf of an Austria which no longer exists, and Maria stands by him. Liesl now sees how much Maria truly loves the Captain, and Maria shares her new understanding of love (“Sixteen Going on Seventeen” Reprise).

Captain von Trapp receives a letter saying that he must accept a commission in the Navy of the Third Reich and report immediately to Bremerhaven. Maria gathers the children to escape Austria that night. While discreetly leaving the house, they are caught by Herr Zeller, who is there to escort the Captain directly to Bremerhaven. Thinking quickly, Max displays the program for the Festival showing that the Trapp Family Singers – which includes the Captain, of course, as head of the family – are scheduled to perform and need to be on their way. Her Zeller comprehends the situation and says the trip to the Captain’s new position in the Third Reich will begin immediately after the show.

The Festival begins (“Do-Re-Mi” Reprise) and von Trapp himself sings a quietly defiant hymn to his beloved Austria (“Edelweiss” Reprise). But when Max announces that a guard of honor is waiting to escort the Captain away as soon as the concert is over, Maria leads the von Trapp family in one more song as they escape, one by one, into the night (“So Long, Farewell” Reprise). Max gives out the concert prizes slowly, buying time. The Trapp Family Singers are announced as winners of the Festival, but they are nowhere to be found.

The family takes refuge in the garden of Nonnberg Abbey as Nazi soldiers swarm the hallowed ground. It is Rolf who discovers the von Trapps, and during a brief standoff with the Captain, the rest of the family escapes just before Rolfe calls for the rest of his regime to come catch them (“Nuns and Nazis”). The family tries to escape by car, and the Nazis just behind them are stalled unexpectedly – due to the “sin” of two Sisters, who reveal, under their habits, critical engine parts that have rendered the cars useless (“Escape”). The family has no other choice but to make their final way to freedom on foot by way of the mountain. It is a daunting journey, but Maria, who grew up on that mountain, knows the way. (“Finale: Climb Ev’ry Mountain”).