Friday, May 21, 2010

Diplo-Style: Baroness Elsa von Schraeder

I'm not going to lie: "Sound of Music" is one of my all-time favorite movies (in case that didn't come through loud and clear yesterday).  Christopher Plummer, who plays the dashing Captain von Trapp was always rather hard on the movie.  He never seemed to be able to live down the fact that in all of his work before the movie, and the nearly 50 year career after that which included nearly every possible Shakespeare leads, Oscar nominated work and the like, he'll always be remembered for playing Captain von Trapp. Apparently he never liked the film, his character, his singing or any of the children, except for Liesl, with whom he spent his scenes flirting.  Who cares? He'll always be Captain Von Trapp to me.  I remember when, in my later years I watched the film and noticed how handsome he was in his white tie when they throw the ball in Salzburg, instead of merely looking like the old guy in the movie - that's when I knew I was getting older myself.

But enough about Captain von Trapp and his commanding, disciplined self.  Today's diplo-style tribute is to a much lesser, and oft much maligned character in the movie, the Baroness Elsa von Schraeder.  The Baroness is first brought in as the Captain's attempt at love after the death of his wife, and save for one nasty comment she makes about shipping the children off to boarding school, she's actually quite harmless.  When you're younger,  she's one of the villains - when you're older, you recognize the position she's in.  In fact, in my "later years", I find that her role is rather heartbreaking.  She's come across this amazing gentleman, who's just starting to open up, and it seems she genuinely cares for him, and then out of nowhere, some country upstart from the convent hops over wearing nothing but curtains and a guitar and steals him away.  And after losing the battle to Maria,  like a true Viennese, she takes the rebuff with the utmost poise and diplomacy in the end.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - things in Vienna change little.  And the truth is, most of the Baroness's ensemble's would look at home here in the first district scene still today amongst a certain crowd - and her ball gown would be appropriate anytime during the festival season.  After all, by her own admission, she did "have the finest couterier in all of Vienna". 

When my husband finally consented to watch the movie (he wasn't quite ready for the sing a long version,  but there's still time), a line of the Baroness's stayed with us and we use it everytime it's time go home discretely...

"Now if you'll forgive me, I must go back inside, and pack my little bags, and go back to Vienna where I belong."







5 comments:

  1. I've never considered the Baroness as a villain. When I was younger I saw her as a threat to Maria but even then I knew she and the Captain were a couple before Maria came into the picture. In the movie she was graceful and showed no bad qualities. She did see a man she loves have another woman, one who had the love and acceptance of the children, falling in love with him. She tried to interact with the children but they were anything but nice to her. The idea of boarding school was no.more than her way to be with the man she loved while the children would still be cared for. I found her to be a very tragic person and wondered what happened to her after returning to Vienna.

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    1. i totally agree - i think she completely gets the short end of the stick....from her perspective she must feel she ends up in a bonkers situation and handles it so gracefully... i always seemed to think she probably did okay after returning to vienna - i was always more worried about Max. I always wondered whether his luck ran out...

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  2. I agree with Randy. I saw the Baroness the same as Randy did and I too wondered what happened to her when she went back to Vienna. I also sort of hoped she would end up with Max...!

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    1. I always thought Max might be more into the gents and worried how that might have caught up with him during the war - but he was always kind of a survivor type. Maybe the Baroness took him under her wing to get him through...

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  3. Oh my, yes! I have had practically the identical experience with Baroness Schraeder! (And with Captain Von Trapp, although it was the uniform he wears when he first meets Maria that really woke me up to that one.) I go to a Sing-A-Long SoM every year, and the organizers encourage an interactive experience that includes booing the Nazis and hissing at the Baroness. Even though I disliked her as a child, as an adult I'm always the quiet little voice amongst the sea of hissing saying, "But she looks so fabulous!!" And while she may be smart, confident, and assertive in her attempts to keep the Captain, she never actually lies to anyone, and I do think even the rather nasty boarding school comment is multi-faceted. Yay, Elsa!

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Thanks for sharing!