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The Sound of Music
Sound of music
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
Film information

Directed by

Robert Wise

Produced by

Robert Wise

Starring

Music by

Cinematography

Ted D. McCord

Studio

20th Century Fox

Distributed by

20th Century Fox

Language

English

Budget

$8.2 million[1][2]

Gross Revenue

$286,214,286[1]

The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical film directed and produced by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is derived from the Broadway musical The Sound of Music, with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the musical book written by the writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and the screenplay written by Ernest Lehman. Based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a naval officer widower. The Sound of Music contains several popular songs, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going on Seventeen", "The Lonely Goatherd", and the title song, "The Sound of Music".

The Sound of Music was filmed on location in Salzburg, Austria; the state of Bavaria in Germany; and at the 20th Century Fox studios in California, United States. It was photographed in 70mm Todd-AO format by Ted D. McCord. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and displaced Gone with the Wind as the highest-grossing film of all-time. The cast album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry as it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

PlotEdit

In 1938, living as a young postulant at Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, Maria is constantly getting into mischief to the consternation of the nuns and the Mother Abbess. After receiving a request from a widowed Austrian naval captain for a governess for his seven children, Mother Abbess asks Maria to accept the position, and Maria reluctantly agrees. When she arrives at the von Trapp estate, Maria discovers that Captain Georg von Trapp keeps it in strict shipshape order, uses a whistle to summon his children, issues orders, and dresses his children in sailor-suit uniforms. Although initially hostile toward her, the children eventually warm to her and she teaches them how to sing and allows them to play.

The Captain takes an extended visit to a lady friend, Baroness Elsa Schraeder, a wealthy socialite from Vienna, who accompanies him on his return. While taking a boat ride on the lake, the children become excited at their father's return and cause the boat to capsize, precipitating an argument between the Captain and Maria. The Captain is displeased with the activities she has arranged for the children and furiously orders her to return to the abbey. However, the Captain later relents when he hears the children singing for the Baroness, and apologizes to Maria and asks her to stay. Max Detweiler—a mutual friend of the Captain and the Baroness—who is searching for a novel musical act to enter into the upcoming Salzburg Festival, is impressed by the children's singing, but the Captain forbids their participation.

At a banquet the Captain has organized in honor of Baroness Schraeder, eleven-year-old Kurt watches the guests dancing the Ländler and he asks Maria to teach him the steps. When the Captain sees Maria dancing in the moonlight, he cuts in and partners her in a graceful performance, culminating in a close embrace; Maria breaks away and blushes, confused about her feelings. At the end of the evening, the Baroness, noticing the Captain's attraction to Maria, convinces her to return to the abbey. Back at the abbey, Maria keeps herself in seclusion until Mother Abbess persuades her to return to the von Trapp family. When she discovers that the Captain is now engaged to the Baroness, she agrees to stay until they find a replacement governess. Realizing that he is in love with Maria, the Captain breaks off the engagement, and they subsequently declare their love for each other; soon after, the two are married in an elaborate ceremony.

While the Captain and Maria are on their honeymoon in Paris, Max enters the children in the Salzburg Music Festival against their father's wishes. Austria is annexed into the Third Reich in the Anschluss, and upon their return the Captain is informed by telegram that he must report as soon as possible to the German Naval Headquarters in Bremerhaven to accept a commission in the German Navy. Strongly opposed to Nazism, the Captain tells his family they must leave Austria. As the von Trapp family attempts to leave during the night, they are stopped by Nazi guards outside their estate. They lie to the guards claiming they are performing in the Salzburg Festival, so Hans Zeller, the recently appointed Nazi Gauleiter, agrees to accompany them to the hall, but insists that the Captain depart for Germany immediately after the performance. The family takes part in the contest and slip away during their final number, seeking shelter from the patrolling guards at the abbey cemetery. They are discovered hiding by Rolfe (a former messenger boy enamoured of the Captain's sixteen-year-old daughter, Liesl, but now a proud Nazi) who threatens to shoot the Captain. The Captain is able to disarm the boy and tries to persuade him to escape with them, but Rolfe calls for assistance. After the family escapes in a waiting car, the Nazis try to pursue but their cars fail to start, having being sabotaged by the nuns. The von Trapp family hike over the Alps into Switzerland and to freedom.

CastEdit

  • Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, a veteran Austrian navy captain whose wife died, leaving behind their seven children. He applies his military background in raising them according to strict naval discipline, but his attitude to the children and Maria softens considerably after she reintroduces music in the family. Plummer's singing voice was dubbed by Bill Lee.
  • Eleanor Parker as Baroness Elsa von Schraeder, the Captain's lady friend from Vienna, and later fiancée for a short period. She becomes jealous of Maria, and convinces her to leave during a grand party at the house by exploiting her inner conflict about becoming a nun and her discomfort at the Captain's obvious affection towards her. However, she later regrets her actions, and decides to return to Vienna, convincing the Captain to share his true feelings for Maria.
  • Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler, a good friend of both the Baroness and the Captain, and an impresario. In searching Salzburg for talented singers, he finds what he wants in the von Trapp family, and constantly tries to convince the Captain to let him enter the children in the Salzburg Music Festival.
  • Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp, the first and eldest child, sixteen "going on seventeen". She believes she doesn't need a governess at first, but soon comes to trust Maria. She is in love with a messenger named Rolfe, who delivers their telegrams, but he later betrays her and her family. Charmian Carr's sister, Darleen, sang some of her high obbligato parts.[3]
  • Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich von Trapp, the second child and eldest son, fourteen. He is very quiet and is also something of a gentleman, despite his involvement in the tricks against the previous governesses, which the children confess were merely to get the Captain's attention. After Maria arrives, he tells her that he "is impossible" according to "Fraulein Josephine: four governesses ago".
  • Heather Menzies as Louisa von Trapp, the third child, thirteen. She and Brigitta are often together, and she is a bit of a daydreamer. Her two favorite tricks on governesses are to fill their beds with spiders and pretend that she is one of the other girls, such as Brigitta- she tries this ruse on Maria, but fails.
  • Duane Chase as Kurt von Trapp, the fourth child and youngest boy, eleven. He often tries to act manly and is outspoken against the previous governesses and often questions Maria about things, once trying to learn an Austrian folk dance, and what incorrigible meant.
  • Angela Cartwright as Brigitta von Trapp, the fifth child, ten. She is sharp-witted, honest, somewhat nonconformist, and not afraid to speak her mind about things (remarking that Maria's dress is ugly, although Kurt says Fraulein Hilda's was ugliest). Brigitta is depicted reading a book when she first appears. Maria later remarks that Brigitta notices everything.
  • Debbie Turner as Marta von Trapp, the sixth child- she is six when Maria meets her, but announces that her seventh birthday is approaching. She gets along well with Maria. She is the first child to show Maria kindness. She shares Maria's love of the color pink, and hopes to get a pink parasol for her birthday.
  • Kym Karath as Gretl von Trapp, the seventh and youngest child, five. She initially comes across as shy—her father has to give Maria her name—but she's soon warm towards Maria. She is the second child to show Maria kindness, saying that she likes her.
  • Anna Lee as Sister Margaretta, a nun who looks fondly on Maria. She, as well as Sister Berthe, helps her to escape by sabotaging the cars of the Gauleiter and his soldiers.
  • Portia Nelson as Sister Berthe, a nun who does not believe Maria belongs in the abbey; she nevertheless helps her escape by sabotaging the cars of the Gauleiter and his soldiers.
  • Marni Nixon as Sister Sophia. She first appears expressing her opinion of Maria to her fellow nuns. She was cast in the role by director Robert Wise.
  • Daniel Truhitte as Rolfe, a messenger who is in love with Liesl. The two become estranged after his enthusiasm for the Nazi cause leads him to forsake Liesl, partly as he realises that her father does not support Adolf Hitler and thus has no regard for him.
  • Ben Wright as Herr Zeller, Gauleiter, an enthusiast for the Third Reich. He takes a contrary tone with the patriotic Captain as early as the party held for the Baroness. After the Anschluss he is appointed Gauleiter of the region.
  • The famous marionette puppet sequence for the song "The Lonely Goatherd" was produced and performed by the leading puppeteers of the day, Bil Baird and Cora Eisenberg-Baird.

ProductionEdit

Darryl and Richard D. Zanuck originally asked Robert Wise to do the film, but he turned it down because it was "too saccharine". They then approached Stanley Donen, Vincent Donehue, Gene Kelly, and George Roy Hill, but they all turned it down.[4] Zanuck next asked William Wyler to direct the film. Because he was suffering from a loss of hearing that affected his ability to appreciate music fully, Wyler felt he was the wrong man for the job, but he agreed to fly to New York and see the Broadway production. Feeling many of the songs did not evolve organically from the plot, he remained undecided and wrote to the producer of Die Trapp-Familie, a 1956 non-musical film about the von Trapps starring the German screen star Ruth Leuwerik, to ask his advice. "This cannot fail," he responded, and Wyler accepted the assignment.[5]

Wyler had seen the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady and had been impressed by Julie Andrews, who was in the process of filming Mary Poppins. He, along with screenwriter Ernest Lehman, met with her on the set and asked Walt Disney if they could see some of the dailies. Convinced she was perfect for the role of Maria, he signed her to a contract.[5]

Wyler returned to New York and met with Maria von Trapp, then he and Ernest Lehman and their wives flew to Austria to begin scouting locations in the Tyrolean Alps. There they visited the convent where von Trapp had been a novice, and Wyler discussed the possibility of filming scenes there with the Mother Superior. He then met with the mayor of Salzburg. Wyler was concerned that the presence of a film crew shooting German troops parading before buildings draped with the Nazi flag would be a harsh reminder of the Anschluss for those who had experienced it. The mayor assured him the residents had managed to live through it the first time and would survive it again.[5]

Wyler returned to Hollywood and began pre-production work on the film, but his wife realized his heart clearly was not in it. Then he was approached by Jud Kinberg and John Kohn, neophyte film producers who had purchased the rights to the John Fowles novel The Collector prior to its publication. They had a commitment from Terence Stamp to star in the film and a first draft screenplay by Stanley Mann. Wyler was impressed with the script and, feeling an affinity with the project he did not with The Sound of Music, he asked the Zanucks to release him from his contract. They agreed, and Robert Wise, who became available due to delays in production of The Sand Pebbles, was hired to replace Wyler.[4][5]

The opening scene and aerial shots were filmed in Anif (Anif Palace), Mondsee, and Salzkammergut (Fuschl am See, St. Gilgen and Saint Wolfgang).[6]

Hohenwerfen Castle served as the main backdrop for the song "Do-Re-Mi". At the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Maria and the children sing "Do-Re-Mi", dancing around the horse fountain and using the steps as a musical scale.

Historical accuracy Edit

Both the musical and the film present a history of the von Trapp family, albeit one that is not completely accurate. The following are examples of the dramatic license taken by the filmmakers:

  1. Georg Ludwig von Trapp was indeed anti-Nazi and opposed to the Anschluss, and lived with his family in a villa in a district of Salzburg called Aigen; however, the lifestyle depicted in the film greatly exaggerated their standard of living. The real family villa (located at Traunstraße 34, Aigen 5026 in Saltzburg) was large and comfortable but nowhere near as grand as the palace depicted in the film. The house was also not the ancestral home depicted in the film. The family had previously lived in homes in Zell Am See and Klosterneuburg after being forced to abandon their actual ancestral home in Pola due to the war. Georg moved the family to the Salzburg villa shortly after the death of his first wife in 1922.[7]
  2. Georg had lost most of the family fortune, inherited from his first wife, the heiress Agathe Whitehead, in a poor business decision trying to prop up a failing Austrian bank managed by a friend a few years after his marriage to Maria. This left the von Trapps virtually bankrupt and they managed to get by only by laying off all of the staff and by taking in boarders. The family’s entry into the music business was primarily due to their precarious financial situation, a fact that caused the proud Georg much embarrassment.[8]
  3. Maria Augusta Kutschera had indeed been a novice at Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg and had been hired by the von Trapp family. However she was hired only to be a tutor to young Maria Franziska ("Louisa" in the movie), who had come down with scarlet fever and needed her lessons at home, not to be a governess for all of the children.[7]
  4. Practicality rather than love and affection moved Georg and Maria to marry. Georg needed a mother figure for the children; in deciding not to return to the convent Maria needed the security of a husband and family. Despite the film's portrayal of their budding romance, Maria admitted in her autobiography Maria, that she was not in love with Georg at the time of their marriage. "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children." Maria did however later intimate that she grew to love Georg over time and enjoyed a happy marriage.[7]
  5. Georg is referred to as Baron von Trapp but his actual family title was "Ritter" (German for "knight"). Ritter is a hereditary knighthood closer to the British "baronet" than "baron". Furthermore, the Austrian nobility was legally abolished in 1919 and the nobiliary particle von was proscribed so he was legally "Georg Trapp". In reality however both the title and the von particle continued to be widely used unofficially as a matter of courtesy.[7]
  6. Maria and Georg were married in 1927, not in 1938 as depicted in the film. The couple had been married for over a decade by the time of the Anschluss and had two of their three children together by that time.[7]
  7. Georg is depicted in the film as a humorless martinet and an emotionally distant father. In reality, third child Maria von Trapp (called "Louisa" in the film), described her father as a doting parent who made handmade gifts for the children in his woodshop and who would often lead family musicales on his violin. She has a different recollection of her stepmother however. Far from the sweet and demure woman depicted in the film, Maria von Trapp recalls her stepmother Maria as being moody and prone to outbursts of manic rage. "[She] had a terrible temper. . . . And from one moment to the next, you didn't know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice," she stated in a 2003 interview.[7]
  8. Georg had been offered a position in the Kriegsmarine but this occurred before the Anschluss. He was being heavily recruited by the Nazis because he had extensive experience with submarines and Germany was looking to expand its fleet of U-boats. Unlike in the film, Georg seriously pondered the offer before turning it down. His family was in desperate financial straits and he had no other marketable skills other than his training as a naval officer. He eventually decided that he could not serve a Nazi regime. Rather than threaten arrest, the Nazis actually continued to try to woo him.[7]
  9. Georg was never in serious danger of being arrested by the Nazis. He had turned down the Kriegsmarine commission before the Nazis had taken over Austria so they could not have arrested him at that time even if they had wanted. In fact, after leaving Austria, he and the family visited Austria again and stayed for several months in 1939 before departing again for good without incident. This was nearly a year after their emigration and after the Anschluss when the Nazis could have easily detained him.[7]
  10. The Anschluss occurred in March, and the Salzburg Music Festival is held in June; therefore, the family could not have escaped after their festival performance before the borders closed. However, it is likely that this is why they are shown hiking over the mountain across the border: to avoid the checkpoints.[7]
  11. The bell cord on the real Nonnberg Abbey is strictly a prop created by the film crew and is entirely non-functional. The nuns liked it however and asked that it be left after the film crew vacated.[7]
  12. The character Max Detweiler, the scheming family music director, is entirely fictional. The von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years and accompanied them when they left Austria.[7]
  13. The film shows the von Trapp family hiking over the Alps from Austria to Switzerland, but from Salzburg this would be impossible. Salzburg is only a few kilometers away from the Austrian–German border and is much too far from either the Swiss or Italian borders for the family to reach by walking. In fact, a hike over the mountain from Salzburg would put them in the German town of Berchtesgaden and virtually within sight of Adolf Hitler's vacation cottage at Obersalzberg. However, the family most likely did not intend to leave Salzburg on foot. They are shown to escape from Salzburg by car, so theoretically they could have driven through the night to a point closer to the Swiss (or Italian) border before starting their hike.[7]
  14. In fact rather than making a daring nighttime hike, the von Trapp family simply walked to the local train station and boarded a train to Italy. Although he was an ethnic German-Austrian, Georg was born in the Dalmatian city of Zadar, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but fell into Italian territory after the empire was divided following World War I. Because of his birthplace he could legally claim Italian citizenship. From Italy, they traveled to London and ultimately the United States. Maria Franziska von Trapp ("Louisa" in the movie) later intimated, "We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing."[7]
  15. Friedrich (the second oldest child in the film version) was based on Rupert, the oldest of the real von Trapp children. Liesl (the oldest child in the film) was based on Agathe von Trapp, the second oldest in the real family. The names and ages of the children were changed, in part because the third child (who would be portrayed as "Louisa") was also named Maria and producers thought that it would be confusing to have two characters called Maria in the film.[7]
  16. The film was largely filmed in the city and county of Salzburg and Upper Austria, including sites such as Nonnberg Abbey, and St. Peter Cemetery]]. Leopoldskron Palace]], Frohnburg Palace, and Hellbrunn Palace were some of the locations used for the Trapp estate in the film.[7]

The inaccuracies between the true story and the theatre and film depictions cannot be blamed on the von Trapps themselves. They had given up the rights to their story to a German producer in the 1950s who then sold them to American producers. The von Trapps had little if any input into the subsequent musical and film. Maria in fact was reportedly quite upset with the portrayal of her husband as a humorless taskmaster."[7]

ReferenceEdit

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named numbers
  2. Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 254, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  3. Darleen Carr, speaking on Secret Voices of Hollywood, BBC Four TV
  4. 4.0 4.1 Classic American films: conversations with the screenwriters. William Baer. 2008: Greenwood.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Herman, Jan, A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1995. ISBN 0-399-14012-3, pp. 419–422
  6. "The Sound of Music-shooting locations". 2007. http://www2.salzburg.info/soundofmusic_462.htm. Retrieved December 30, 2007. 
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 Gearin, Joan (Winter 2005). "Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family". National Archives. http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps.html. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  8. Hirsch 1993, pp. 201–202.

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