I watched this film a lot as a child, and I know the words to most of the songs. The biggest surprise came when I was 6, visiting my cousins and found out that there was more to the movie after the wedding. (In order to get us to go to bed, my Dad would let us watch the movie until the wedding, and then say "they're married now, the movie's over").
|original poster from wikipedia|
But still - it seems so perfect, this large family of children (led by the sixteen year old Leisl) who works together to play tricks on the governesses and jokes about champagne.
I was thinking about it - I don't remember one time (perhaps my brother will chime in here) that all the kids went anywhere together without our parents. Not once. We would go out together, but not as a full group (that I recall). So the scene in the film where they visit the abbey rang very hollow.
Trying to get everyone in my family to do anything (by the time I was sixteen) was like herding cats.
But that's not what big families are like (at least, it wasn't for my family). Is anyone really that naive?
.It's true that the Captain had a lot of money, and that definitely helps in large families.
Being in a large family is being raised to be competitive. You have to compete and out-shine to survive. My Dad also used to say "the squeakiest wheel gets the most grease" (For the record, this is a saying that has never made any sense to me. It sounds like you're encouraging someone to squeak if they want something - it's a backwards way to do anything).
There are only so many resources, and they have to be divided amongst everyone. It's not a matter of everyone pitches in - it's not always that simple or easy. My Mom would talk about a large family of girls she remembered from Utah, they all learned to sew and made their own clothes. In the 1980s, in the suburbs - all handmade clothes were unrealistic. Sure, it could happen. It's just the place where reality hits - life is not all re-made curtains.
You had to pool your resources, and you had to be very careful what you shared. I read someone who talked about hoarding Christmas gifts in a large family - and that was almost what it was like sometimes. You wanted to have your own stash of whatever because it could be gone tomorrow.
My parents have finally re-arranged the kitchen to not have food "hidden" in various cabinets - but for the longest time, the chips were in one cabinet SOLELY because they might not get eaten as quickly. At the end, it stretched believability as everyone knew exactly where the chips were.
I have a lot of advantages for being raised in the family I was. I love my siblings, and the big family reunions. We did work together, and I learned a lot.
All I'm saying is, at times I am not sure that people see the downsides to large families or challenges after watching the media portrayals. There are important pieces that are left out.