Maria is a young postulant nun whose love of life makes her not entirely suited to the religious ways her Mother Abbess at Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg, Austria requires. So it is decided to send her to the nearby home of the widowed Captain von Trapp to serve as governess for the Captain’s seven mischievous children. The children do not want a governess because they want their father’s attention instead so they make life difficult for any governess he tries to hire. Maria, however is undaunted by the antics of the children and she soon gains their respect and affection.
While the Captain is away on a trip, Maria teaches the children to sing and enjoy life. When Captain von Trapp returns home he is overcome with emotion when the children sing for him, as it brings back memories of his deceased wife and the joy that the family had when she was alive. He is grateful to Maria for bringing that joy back into his home.
A short while later, Maria realizes that she has fallen in love with the Captain and he with her, in emotional turmoil, she decides to return to the Abbey. The Mother Abbess, understanding her situation, talks with Maria and tells her that she must follow her heart. After much soul-searching, Maria returns to the von Trapp family home where eventually she and the Captain express their love for each other and decide to marry. While the Captain and Maria are on their honeymoon, the Nazis, who have invaded Austria, send orders for Captain von Trapp to report to the Nazi command naval base in Bremerhaven. A friend of the Captain’s, Max, who in the absence of the Captain and Maria, has arranged for the children to sing in the Salzburg Festival he is managing. When the Captain and Maria Austria and the Nazis so they decide to use the performance at the festival as their opportunity to escape.