The Sound of Music was on of the first “grown up” movies that I saw as a child in the 1960s. I loved the first part, although I didn’t like it when the war started. The story took a sinister turn when Austrian Captain Von Trapp was under pressure to join the nazis. The Von Trapps had to flee the dangers of the nazi war machine by running over the alps to safety. The soaring Sound of Music theme tells us that that they will triumph over adversity.
In the movie its understood that the family needs to flee for their safety. Nobody accuses the Von Trapp family of invading Switzerland. They are not turned back at the border because the didn’t wait in line to get across. In World War II people had to escape danger by whatever means possible, whether that meant walking across mountains, jumping trains, or crowding into fishing vessels. They were allowed to enter safe havens and if necessary resettled in countries like the USA and Australia.
These days people fleeing persecution seek to enter Australia by boat. How to respond to these ‘Boat People’ is a contentious issue. Unlike the Von Trapps they are not bouyed up by a rousing swell of orchestral music indicating that all will be well. Although it is not illegal to seek asylum, there is some support in Australia for the strategy of turing back the boats, or detaining those who arrive in remote and inhospitable places for long periods of time while they are processed. It seems like the reasons that people are fleeing their homes today are not as clear in our hearts and minds as the reasons that people had to flee in old World War II movies.
However the power of music to communicate the essence of a story remains true today. Were You There?.. Giving Hope to Asylum Seekers is a moving video which encourages us to make a more compassionate response when people seek our help. It reminds us that we are all responsible for what takes place in our midst and in our name.
Sadly our new government wants to turn the boats away. I hope this video goes viral and gives them something to think about.