Wednesday, May 6, 2015  
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Weekly Roundup

by Ben Atwater | May 1, 2015

A new photo of Jared Leto as the Joker has surfaced. Looking more like the classic joker from the comics, the joker is set to appear in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The popular mobile game Five Nights at Freddy’s is set to have a cinematic rendering, produced by Warner Bother’s studios. Kevin Fiege, the head of Marvel Studios, has confirmed that the new Spiderman will “be young, 15-16, and will not have an origin story.” Also announced was Furious 8, sequel to Furious 7. Furious 8 will come out April 14, 2017. This is no shocker, as Furious 7 has made over $1.2 billion dollars and counting. Another sequel will to come in 2017 is Transformers 5. Again, after Transformers 4 made over $1 billion dollars, this is a no brainer. Finally, Michelle Maclaren has left Wonderwoman, so the female superhero film shall have to find a new director before its release in 2017.

Get Hard: Hard to Watch

by Glenn Rohrbacker | May 1, 2015

A few weeks ago, I went to see the latest comedy and highly anticipated film, Get Hard. Get Hard is a movie about a millionaire hedge fund manager, James King (Will Ferrell), who is indicted for fraud and is sentenced to ten years in a maximum-security prison. He enlists the help of a local man, Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), to get him tougher before he goes to prison. This movie was one of my most highly anticipated films of 2015, and also one of my biggest disappointments. Despite the countless interviews done alone and as a duo on shows like The Tonight Show, the Late Late Show, Conan and more, it only fueled the fire of this movie’s unattainable potential. Even without all the promotion, anyone who has ever laughed before would think that putting two comedy greats together like Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart would be a home run. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Kevin Hart and Will Farrell don’t deliver the comedy audiences are used to (AP photo)

Kevin Hart and Will Farrell don’t deliver the comedy audiences are used to (AP photo)

One thing that was easily noticeable is that Ferrell and Hart just don’t have great chemistry on screen. In scenes that they were on their own, you got the wonderful laughs that you had hoped for. However, when they were together, some scenes were just plain awkward. You wanted to laugh because you thought you should, for it was off-putting to think of something that Will Ferrell said that wasn’t funny instead of an old Will Ferrell movie or a Kevin Hart special where you laughed because it was physically impossible not to.

Another problem was that the entire movie was based on stereotypes; jail stereotypes, racial stereotype and even sexual stereotypes. The whole movie is based on the fact that Will Ferrell’s character just assumes that Kevin Hart’s character has been to jail because he is black. There are a lot of movies where stereotypes are used as jokes, but this movie used stereotypes as a storyline and it took away from the humor. Something that is commonplace for modern day comedy, and especially Will Ferrell movies, is crude humor. Get Hard took crude humor to a new level, but a level no one wanted to go to. There were scenes so crude that they cannot even be described in The Charger Bulletin, for this is a professional newspaper and it would be degrading to put some of the filth from Get Hard into it. It was another stereotype taken to the next level.

Will Ferrell is one of my favorite actors. Kevin Hart is one of my favorite comedians. It was a huge let down to see both of these greats in a movie that didn’t showcase their talent. It basically ended up being two actors working with that they were given. This may be the result of an idea being better on paper than on screen. Hopefully Get Hard will blow over and we can get back to the iconic comedians that we once knew.

 

Photo of the Week

by The Charger Bulletin | April 29, 2015

Photo of the week

By Amanda Sette, Sophomore

Taken at New Haven Beach
April 2015

“I wanted to test my photography/photoshop skills by trying levitation and it’s now my new favorite thing to do. I always wanted to try it and give the illusion of weightless-ness and mystery,” Sette.

There’s a Place off Ocean Avenue

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | April 29, 2015

So you all remember a band called Yellowcard; well, I had the chance to see them at Toad’s Place along with openers The Downtown Fiction and Finch.

Yellowcard (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Yellowcard (Photo obtained via Facebook)

The Downtown Fiction is an American rock/alternative/pop band from Fairfax, VA who originated in 2008. The band consists of Cameron Leahy on vocals and guitar, David Pavluk on bass and vocals, Wes Diamond on guitar and vocals and Kyle Rodgers on drums. They are currently signed to Fearless Records, where they released their second album Losers & Kings. This album is the band’s longstanding ambition to break the mold while remaining true to their sound. If you get the chance to see these guys on tour, don’t miss out because they put on a fantastic show.

Finch is an American post-hardcore band from Temecula, California who originated in 1999. They released two albums What It Is to Burn and Say Hello to Sunshine before they went on hiatus in 2006. They then reformed in 2007 releasing their EP a year later and then in the process of their third album they disbanded in late 2010. They then signed to Razor and Tie records in 2014 and they started working on a new album, which came out in September called Back to Oblivion. The band consists of Nate Barcalow on lead vocals, Alex Linares on rhythm guitar, Randy Strohmeyer on lead guitar and backing vocal, Alex Pappas on drums and percussion and Daniel Wonacott on bass guitar. I must say that this band put on a great show, so definitely go see them if you have the chance to do so.

Yellowcard is an American pop punk/alternative rock band from Jacksonville, FL that originated in 1997. They are now based on Los Angeles and still going strong in the music scene. The members of the band are Ryan Key on vocals and guitar, Sean Mackin on violin and vocals, Ryan Mendez on guitar and vocals and last, but not least, Josh Portman on bass. They got their name “Yellowcard” from a phrase they used in high school, which I thought was pretty interesting to learn. Their popular singles included “Ocean Avenue,” “Lights and Sounds,” and “Light Up the Sky.” They are currently signed to Razor and Tie records, and recently released their album Lift a Sail and if you haven’t purchased or listened to it yet, I suggest you do.

First, The Downtown Fiction came on stage and played some new songs off their newest album Losers and Kings as well as played some old songs. They did a great job getting the crowd started for the night before Yellowcard came out later on. I don’t think a lot of people knew who these guys were, but they still enjoyed their performance, as did I whenever I see them perform. In between changing bands, they would put on some songs and everyone would jam out, getting more and more excited for the main act. Then the crowd got pumped for Finch as they came out onstage as it was dark and nothing but their red light circle feature on stage. Everyone had a blast singing along to all their songs and jumping up in the air and moving around the floor. I haven’t seen this band before live, but I must say that they did a phenomenal job and have great stage presence. The final act of the night finally came out to amaze the audience and they definitely accomplished the job. Everyone was crowd surfing and off their feet jumping throughout the whole song. I don’t know about everyone else but when Ryan Key said if you’re not singing your heart out on the songs and losing your voice then you are doing everything wrong. I completely agree with that because I lost my voice and it was incredible.

Make sure to all take a second to see The Downtown Fiction, Finch and Yellowcard on tour; it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.

Spring Concert preview: What to expect

by Ashley Winward | April 29, 2015

It’s the weekend we’ve all been waiting for: the “last hurrah” before finals is upon us. That’s right, Spring Weekend is finally here!

SCOPE really outdid themselves this year with a star-studded weekend planned. Full House’s Dave Coulier kicks off the weekend on Friday as our comedian, then on Saturday enjoy the food and festivities of the carnival before heading into Charger Gymnasium if you were lucky enough to get one of the coveted 1500 tickets to go see T-Pain, Third Eye Blind and DJ Tommy Carlucci. Before you head inside, why don’t I help remind you a little bit about these artists.

First on the bill may not be a familiar name to you but he is a familiar face in the UNH community. You might have caught DJ Tommy Carlucci last year performing with Jonny Empire during the Spring Carnival or perhaps DJing the ladies of Delta Phi Epsilon’s recent Pearl Ball. He’ll be helping keep you get excited and moving in between acts as well as throwing down his own set. He really got the crowd going last year at Spring Carnival and I bet he’ll be bringing it just as hard now that he’s gotten bumped up to the main stage.

Next was what I believed to be the curveball of this announcement: T-Pain. Known by his friends as Faheem Rashad Najm, T-Pain seemingly took over the hip hop scene in the 2000s. With hits like “I’m Sprung” and “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” it seemed like he became a household name overnight. He became the CEO of his own label, Nappy Boy Records, in 2005, with talent such as himself, Young Cash, Travie McCoy and Field Mob, just to name a few. He currently is out touring on his Greatest Hits album, Happy Hour, and if you check out his website (www.t-pain.net), there are even different flavored shots to complement each song. There is also much anticipation for his new album, Stoicville: The Phoenix, that has been in the works for about two years. Fans can probably expect a blend of new and old from the auto-tuned Thr33 Ringz leader when he hits New Haven on Saturday.

Then you’re in for a treat: straight from my childhood and onto the stage with be none other than San Fransisco’s own Third Eye Blind. Most of you will probably know them from their debut self-titled album and hits like “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” and “How’s It Going to Be.” While the lineup has done a number of shifts and trade outs over the years, Stephan Jenkins remaining on vocals is what will really bring me back. While an odd match to be paired with T-Pain, the pure nostalgia factor in this act will be what takes the roof off the place. Third Eye Blind is a bit of a slower mellow mood for a Spring Weekend show but I’ve heard more buzz around campus for them than T-Pain from my observations, so there won’t be a lack of energy as they take the stage.

I would definitely like to applaud SCOPE for such a big lineup for Spring Weekend. It takes a lot of hard work to do what they do and it shows in their turn out and participants excitement. Have a happy and fun Spring Weekend!

Interview with Greg Marquis

by Andrew Lagambina | April 29, 2015

Shortly after the release of their latest record, The Longer Now, I emailed back and forth with Actor|Observer frontman Greg Marquis. We talked about the themes of the record and how they tie in with his personal life, the technical process behind the record and a bit about what it’s like to be a post-hardcore band from New England.

You guys come from the Boston/New England scene where there’s so much talent to compete with; what does A|O do to stand out from the crowd?

There’s a lot we try to do to set ourselves apart in every aspect of this band, beyond just the music. We try to emulate and incorporate our eclectic influences into something that is ultimately our own. That can be difficult because our influences are all over the place, so finding our sound has taken some time. But now that we’ve found some balance, I think the result is pretty unique. We’re a “post-hardcore” band though, which can be a very confining label for those that know it. Growing up listening to a lot of bands with heavy breakdowns and catchy hooks, we’ve kinda felt like the standard “chugga-chugga” breakdowns are overdone, boring, and uninspiring at this point. So what we try to do is write something new to capture that intensity we once loved and incite a similar feeling but on a different level with either more complexity, melody, or rhythmic diversity. As a vocalist, I’ve also tried to veer away from the “good cop/bad cop” style of vocals, and instead work more and more on blending my melodies and screaming together, similar to the vocalists in bands like Balance And Composure and Norma Jean. It’s harder to do, but I like to challenge myself, and it feels more organic and cathartic.

You guys added Ryan to the band to take over your half of the guitar duties; did you find it difficult to transition from playing and singing to just being a frontman?

Only a little. Honestly, we always wanted to be a five-piece, and I wanted to be a front man from the start. But when we couldn’t find another guitarist back in 2010, I just figured I’d do both. After a while though, it wore on me. Being constrained behind a mic stand, playing a guitar, using a pedal board, singing, screaming; it all just became too much to focus on at once. I felt like my performance and stage presence were suffering, and I didn’t feel like I could enjoy myself or engage with the crowd as much as I wanted to. Musically, I didn’t feel like my playing or my singing was ever 100 percent. I needed to pick one and focus on it. So, seeing as voice is really my primary instrument, and seeing as I had already established myself as the lyricist and lead singer, I decided to focus on that and let someone else who was more committed to guitar take over. We’ve known Ryan for years now and we loved his previous bands. I wanted to get a better guitarist than me, who could contribute to songwriting and back-up singing, and who was more tech savvy to complement Alex’s ability. Ryan fulfills all of those requirements. The front man role took me a little getting used to, but I’ve spent so much of my life looking up to the front men of my favorite bands that I knew what sort of performer I wanted to be I still write guitar parts here and there, as part of the songwriting process.

How would you describe your new record The Longer Now to kids?

There was actually a lot of intent behind the lyrics, the flow, and the title of the album. Lyrically, it’s a lot of me trying to psychoanalyze myself and come to terms with the personal and existential issues that have been the root of my anxiety and depression for a long time. In most of the songs, I identify a problem either with myself, with others, the nature of our culture, or mere existence, and then I try to understand it so I can work through it and find my own solution to the problem. Honestly, writing this album has been the most therapeutic experience I’ve ever attained from music. Every single song really helped me sort out what I was feeling, what I wanted to say, and what I was going to do about it, all at a time when I really needed that. I had been anxious and depressed for a long time and it wasn’t getting better. I never felt content, just always on edge or waiting for something to finally give. After a couple years of therapy, I finally started taking anti-depressants to help clear away the dark cloud that was weighing me down. That and these songs have helped me get all the stuff off my chest that was making it hard to stay optimistic. I realized that a lot of my problems stemmed from this atheist/nihilist perspective I’ve developed over the past decade. This personal realization that there’s no inherent “meaning” to life, other than that which you ascribe to it, has made it difficult to fill that void with something sufficient. I know countless other people struggle with the same conflict, which is why it seemed important for me to address it in a public way and try to make something more out of it.

 

I know on the Circular Mill EP, there were a few book quotes and really well put lyrics. Are there similar themes on The Longer Now?

Actually, the album title is the only literary reference, but it’s the most important. It’s from a book that completely ties into everything I was just talking about. The Longer Now” is the title of the second chapter in a really thought-provoking novel called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I got that book as a hand-me-down last year from my brother Shawn, who had actually received it as a hand-me-down from our oldest brother Brian. So it kinda came full circle and hit me at the perfect time in my life. That book manages to tap into some unspoken collective subconscious that we all share with regards to spirituality, the lack thereof, and the meaning of life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or not; that “big question” is something I think we all have in common, and if you haven’t made some sort of peace with it, then it can eat at you forever as it has for me. In the book, “The Longer Now” is described as a period of time in Western society that spans from the beginning of the last millennium to now. It basically explains how, over the course of this period, mankind has evolved from a mostly religious society—living with the purpose of pleasing God or some sort of deity in hopes of a prosperous afterlife—to a more scientific/post-God society, in which many people do not accept that explanation anymore and are seeking a more tangible purpose in life. In pursuit of “the truth,” we came up with the scientific method, followed by all these amazing feats in exploration, discovery, and technology, all of which have been incredibly valuable to human progress, but none of which have really been able to answer that age-old existential “question.” So in the meantime, we do our best to make ourselves comfortable and live the most “fulfilling” lives we can, focusing on personal progress, accomplishments, activities, contributions to humanity, or whatever we can, to attain a sense of value, keep ourselves preoccupied, and repress that dreadful ambiguity of why we’re here. “Spread Thin” (the second song on the album), touches on these topics, as well as my obsessive need to keep busy and accomplish something and fill up my time as much as possible, stressing myself out, running myself ragged, ultimately just to distract myself from the inherent meaninglessness of my life. The first song “Steel Yourself” ties into that as well, recognizing how living in fear of death and misfortune is a an unproductive way to spend that time.

 

The three interludes on the album really break up the onslaught with some careful crafted Post-Rock atmosphere. Can you touch on those songs?

 

The three interludes each follow a theme, mapping out a lifespan in the simplest, bleakest terms: “Absence” (before life), “Presence” (during), and “Disappearance” (after). That last one—the only one with lyrics and probably the most morbid—alludes to a place at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan called Aokigahara, aka “the Suicide Forest,” where hundreds of people end their lives every year. Many of those who go there with that intent are actually uncertain about whether or not they want to die, so they tie ribbons or rope from tree to tree as they travel deeper into the woods, like a trail of bread crumbs, so they can find their way back if they change their mind. The symbolism of that stood out to me because amidst this existential crisis, it’s hard not to think of suicide as a way out. But as long as I have something tying me to what’s important (friends, family, etc.), I can go deeper into this philosophical darkness and hopefully, in doing so, learn more about myself and the world in which we live.

How do you think Jay Maas (producer) affected the sound of the record? Did he contribute a lot to the sound? Or was he more focused on capturing the sound in your head?

He was definitely the right guy for the job and is the main reason why the mix sounds so solid and organic. We went into his studio with the songs pretty much fully written, so he mostly focused on capturing the sound that we created, while offering suggestions along the way to refine them. He actually suggested recording all the guitars through the amp that Alex built because, despite all of Jay’s amazing equipment, he thought it had the best tone for what we were doing. One of the best decisions we made was playing guitars in the same room as the amp while recording to get the most natural spontaneous feedback possible. That ended up contributing greatly to the gritty identity of this record. We’re really proud of our collaboration with Jay because we didn’t have to rely on him to help us write our music. He liked what we had, but he also chimed in where it counted and helped us convey it in the best way possible.

You guys have had guest spots on both of your last two releases like our brother, Brian Marquis, on The Carbon Date EP and then Dylan Massucco and Steve Massaroni on Circular Mill. Are there similar features on the new record?

 

Actually Jay does a guest spot on the last song. We had some other people in mind, but they ended up not working out, so we figured “hey, Jay does a lot of vocals for Defeater, sounds awesome, and usually makes a signature appearance on most of the albums he produces, so let’s just have him do it!” His part in “Piece of Mind” came out really mean. The dude grits his teeth when he screams and sounds like he’s being ripped apart. It was a perfect pissed-off punk sound for the lyrics, “People like you are the reason why people like us exist.” I’m pretty sure he nailed it in two or three takes.

Do you have a favorite song from the record?

My personal favorite is “It’s Always The Weather” because of how difficult it was for me to admit to those feelings. That song helped me grow and helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. Ultimately it taught me a lot about empathizing with someone else’s depression and their need to move on in their life. New England can be very harsh in terms of weather, and I tend to resent the people I care about for moving away instead of riding out another miserable winter with the rest of us. But I had to realize that everyone is just trying to find their own peace, and some day I too may need to shake those roots. The flow of that song is very natural and honest to me, and the connection between weather depression is something I think many people can relate to.

Okay, last question. Imagine it’s the end of 2015. Looking back on the year, what things happened to make this year a success?

Well, putting out this album and our first music video has been a huge accomplishment for us already. Hopefully we’ll have vinyl for this album by the end of the year. We also hope to play another date of Warped Tour again and do a few longer tours taking us as far South and West as we can go. We’d like to start consistently seeing more people singing along to the new songs and coming out to our New England shows. Ideally, we’d also like to get on some bigger bills with international bands that we look up to and make some more connections there. One of my dreams is to be featured in Alternative Press Magazine, so that would be cool too. We’ve already started writing a little, so we’ll probably have some new songs finished for our next release by the end of the year, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll be able to sign to a legit label that will help us do all of this. It’s a lot, but any combination of those things would make this year a success to us.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | April 29, 2015

Cody Hanson of Hinder; New music, pledgemusic and everything in-between

Hinder’s newest album will be out May 12 (AP photo)

Hinder’s newest album will be out May 12 (AP photo)

When you think of Hinder, you’re probably brought back to an afternoon in high school, sitting in front of the TV, watching Total Request Live, commonly referred to as TRL, on MTV and feeling emotions you’d yet to experience in real life when “Lips of an Angel” came on—or maybe that’s just me. Regardless, there is a certain nostalgia that the band possesses for old and new fans alike with the evoking lyrics of their catchy and never-forgotten classics. Hailing from Oklahoma City, they came into the public eye in the early 2000’s and since then have consistently released new music, relatable to a new audience each time.

I was lucky enough to speak with Cody Hanson, the drummer who has served as the heartbeat of the band from the beginning. A lot has changed since the release of Hinder’s first album, Extreme Behavior, including the gain of a new lead vocalist, Marshall Dutton. In a Facebook post back in January, the band announced that Dutton, who had been writing and producing for the band since 2009, was in fact going to serve as their new lead singer. While most human beings run screaming from the idea of change, Hanson revealed this seemed like the most natural transition for the band.

“It felt so normal, if not easier, to transition into working with Marshall as a part of the band,” Hanson revealed. “Marshall’s voice had always been the one on every demo anyway. He’d served as our main songwriter for such a long time that we were used to hearing him on the tracks before we even started working on them for an album. It’s a nice change of pace to skip the middle man and it makes the writing and recording process a lot more efficient.”

In the midst of this major transition, the band also left their longtime stay with Universal and inked a contract with The End Records. They’re set to release their first album through The End, featuring Dutton as the lead vocalist, on May 12 of this year. The album is entitled When the Smoke Clearsperhaps symbolizing the calm after the storm of changes the band has endured throughout the past few years.

“There really was no inspiration behind the album as a whole,” said Hanson. “It was more about sitting down with some acoustic guitars and working on something that emotionally inspired us in that instance. I guess you could say the motivation was all over the place, it came from different people at different times and it all merged together to form a pretty awesome collection of songs. The process of recording wasn’t much different than our other albums, especially because we weren’t faced with that pressure from a label breathing down out necks. It was cool to be able to think for ourselves and execute our own creative vision.”

“We really don’t have a schedule in mind when it comes to releasing new music,” Hanson concluded when I asked about their consistent album releases (usually every two years). “We like to take as much time as we can when it comes to touring for an album so that’s always a big follow up to a release that takes a lot of our time. With Marshall on board though, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to crank out songs and continue to release things a lot quicker!”

It’s always difficult to ask a singer, especially a songwriter, their favorite song off of a new album. It’s like they’re trying to choose between their children. It’s a lot easier however, to get an honest opinion from the drummer who wholeheartedly experiences the driving beat of every track in the band’s catalog.

“I actually have two,” Hanson laughed when I told him I knew there had to be one that he got most excited to perform, “‘Wasted Life’ is one that is just super fun to play, it has a really catchy hook that I like a lot, and my other would have to be ‘I Need Another Drink.’ It’s just a cool rock standard with an attitude that makes it fun to get into.”

“Again, it was fun to work on these types of songs without an umbrella of what they should be,” he said when touching on the transition from Universal to The End Records once again, “Universal was great and fine and dandy, but they were becoming more focused on the Pop acts of their label. We kind of wish the change could’ve come sooner, but the switch to The End couldn’t have come at a better time.”

If you follow my blog or column at all, you know I’ve done a lot of work with PledgeMusic artists in the past, so I was super excited to hear that Hinder was getting on board with their artist campaigns and using Pledge as a way to bridge the gap between themselves and their fans. PledgeMusic came about as a concept for Founder and President, Benji Rogers on an air mattress at his mom’s house around 3 a.m. one day. It revolved around the idea of connecting artists and fans from the moment the artist stepped into the studio to the project release and beyond.

“We’ve always been a very social band, so when our management talked about getting involved with Pledge it seemed like the perfect step for us to take. We wanted to bridge the gap and turn fans into friends and Pledge allows us to do that by connecting us with our audience in such a different way. It’s such a creative way for us to get to know the people that constantly support us.”

“I think it’s an asset for both us and our fans,” Hanson said when I asked who he thought benefited more from the amazing experiences PledgeMusic is allowing them to foster. “We get to bond with people who have always been there for us and fans are the most important people in our book.”

Hinder allows their fans to go about supporting their new album release with so many different options on their Pledge page. From personalized voicemails from the band to Instagram video shout-outs, there are a thousand ways for the band to connect with their audience and, with any purchase, the listener will be given a download of When the Smoke Clears. I wanted to know the one item in the band’s “store” that they are most excited about selling to a few lucky fans.

“Again, I have two,” he laughed. “A lot of us in the band love to golf, but we’re pretty terrible at it. It would be fun to get our asses kicked and connect with some of our fans that way,” he joked. “Another would have to be the private concert. I know if I was a kid who could save up the money for something like that, it would be the coolest thing ever.”

The coolest thing ever for me was being able to talk to such a passionate member of a band that strives to do everything in their power to connect with their audience. From interviews with college journalists to offering handwritten lyric sheets for donations on PledgeMusic, Hinder is all about eliminating the gap between themselves and their fans, making them a breath of fresh air for the music industry as we know it.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | April 29, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toad’s Place
April 30: Electric Thursdays: EDM Party

May 1: Circa Survive with Balance and Composure and Chon

May 3: Ilovemakonnen with KEY! and Sonny Digital

The Space
May 2: Hawthorne Heights with Anchors Away

May 3: Survay Says! with Cometa, Made in China and Havenfield
BAR (21+)
May 6: Low Cut Connie with The Silks and The Meadow Brothers
Cafe Nine (21+)
May 2: Mission O with Boy Girl Party, and Teen Girl Scientist Monthly

May 5: The Meatmen with Against the Grain

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | April 29, 2015

The Sound of Music is still heard 50 years Later

by Ben Atwater | April 29, 2015

This year at the Oscars, Lady Gaga performed a medley of songs from the 1965 film The Sound of Music to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the movie.

The Sound of Music celebrates 50 years (AP photo)

The Sound of Music celebrates 50 years (AP photo)

Hearing Lady Gaga’s rendition instantly brought to mind how timeless and influential songs such a “Climb Every Mountain” and “Goodbye” are. After the Oscars, I looked into the film’s history.

Besides being the fifth highest grossing film of all time, it also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, beating out David Lean’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago. So, when Cinemark Theaters announced they were screening the movie for the 50th anniversary, I had to check it out.

Right off the bat, The Sound of Music is undeniably a good film; whether or not it’s great is to be determined. Taking place in late 1930s Austria, the movie features Julie Andrews as Maria, a down on her luck nun in training. Maria is a child at heart, with a passion for music and the beauty of nature. The rest of the nuns do not approve of her habits, and send her away to serve as a governess for the Von Trapp family. Headed by a widowed naval captain, the children have taken to pranks and hooligans in the absence of a mother figure. And so, as one might expect, the first act of the nearly three hour film is about Maria bonding with the children. Along the way, Captain Von Trappe’s militaristic values clash with Maria’s optimistic views upon raising children. In the midst of the fun filled summer Maria spends with the children, the Captain and Maria inevitably fall in love.

While everything with the Von Trappe family is fun and joyous, the ever looming Nazi invasion is on the imminent horizon. Historically, Austria was the first country to succumb to Hitler’s Reich, bordering Germany directly to the South.

The Sound of Music is by no means a perfect film. The children are often horribly written, succumbing to clichés and forced cuteness which isn’t all that cute.Yet, child actors seldom are believable, especially from films made in the 60s and before. Also, weak and undeveloped is the aforementioned Nazis. They are sprung on to the plot in the third act, and their sheer brutality is not really shown, as this is supposed to be a family movie. I have never been a fan of sugar coating history, and this film seems to do so quite frequently. Upon further research, the Von Trappes do not live happily ever after, as implied by the ending. The real family faced financial bankruptcy after World War II. Even their prewar state is exaggerated, as they did not live in a beautiful country villa as shown in the film but rather a modest house in the Alps. The ending of the film portrays a last minute flee to the mountains to escape Nazi occupied Austria. There was no such escape, and the Von Trapps left peacefully before the outbreak of war.

All this being considered, historical inaccuracies do not deter from good film making. However, when a film as widely beloved as The Sound of Music has been seen by everyone, the film’s story starts to mix with history, and that can be a problem. Judging The Sound of Music strictly as a film, one cannot deny it is a very entertaining film. Julie Andrews truly makes the movie, and one wishes that Maria could be their babysitter due to the shear sincerity Andrews portrays. Her voice is without a doubt one of the best of all time.

The other great strength of The Sound of Music is the set design. One wants to step back in time to a 1930s Salzburg summer and run through the streets with Maria. The soundtrack, while not original, is extremely catchy. With regards to seeing it on the big screen, I would say it is definitely worth it. The Sound of Music has stood the test of time, and likely will forever.

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