Several weeks ago, when we watched the movie as a family on VHS, my wife and I saw the movie in a new light, as an allegory for what is and has been happening in these United States for the past few years. Four characters in the movie (some fictional) illustrate four types of Americans and our country’s increasingly inevitable path to depravity.
Herr Zeller (played by Ben Wright) is an Austrian apologist for the Third Reich and enthusiastically welcomes the Nazi takeover.
Max Detweiler (played by Richard Haydn) is a friend of the von Trapp family, musical talent scout and apolitical. He doesn’t particularly like the Nazis but is keen on avoiding bloodshed and confrontation.
Captain Georg von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) is a retired Austrian naval hero and adamantly opposed to the Nazis.
Rolfe (played by Daniel Truhitte) is a young Austrian caught up in the new order.
All these men are Austrian, but each respond differently to the Nazi takeover of Austria. Herr Zeller facilitates it; Max Detweiler watches it, as first with distaste, but cooperates with it as inevitable*; Captain von Trapp resists it and finally flees in order to avoid cooperation; Rolfe joins the takeover, believing the lies and promises that a ‘new order’ will bring to society.
Each of us must decide who we are in this cultural war and reform our life accordingly. If we don’t actively choose resistance in our words and deeds, we will become Max Detweiler, if we haven’t already, and our youth will become Rolfe.
*Max Detweiler does, in the end, facilitate the von Trapps’ escape, but his overall character is one of capitulation. I don’t think the viewer is expected to view this act as permanent conversion on Max’s part to become an Austrian patriot.
Oremus pro invicem!