“The Trapp Family” and the classic “The Sound of Music”
Every time I have a chance or spare of a moment, I do watch the 1965 “The Sound of Music,” a musical based on the story of Maria Von Trapp who cared for seven children, changed their lives from a regimented rule imposed by a retired Naval Captain George Von Trapp.
For me, this is a classic film, and the message resonates the present. And all the musical pieces have been played many times and with so much joy to listen to; and to understand the meaning of the songs sung by Julie Andrews, by the nuns, and by the children, and especially the touching rendition of the national song of Austria, Idelweiss by George Von Trapp at home and the singing contests before escaping from the eyes of the Nazi.
Sound of Music, as a movie, captures the very hearts and minds of the people, as Maria Von Trapp turned the house of Captain von Trapp upside down, by letting the seven children from highly regimented to happy-go-lucky children under the strict discipline of their fathers. Iconic songs have become household songs, especially “Do-re-me…” or “Climb Up the mountain…” and “How do you solve the problem like Maria…”. And as I watch, because of the infectious lyrics and tune, I do sing along.
I have been inspired by the poignancy of the story, so inspiring that led me to find out how the von Trapp family was able to tell their story for the film “Sound of Music,”perfectly directed, acted and gave me a chance to see the beauty of Austria! For me, “Sound of Music” is based on a real story!
Then, the internet arrived and Facebook; then I googled von Trapp family, and one surprise popped out: “The Trapp Family (Die Trapp Families), a 1956 West Germany comedy drama film about the real-life Austrian musical family directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner. The whole film is available in German language with an English subtitle.
And to my surprise, no such well-known songs sung by Julie Andrews (Maria) and the story is simple: retired naval captain, Baron von Trapp, a widower with seven children who were trained by the father based on his naval experience; hired a novice to care for his children; with Maria’s training and love of children, she turned the von Trapp house upside down; widower wants to re-marry by falling in love with a beautiful opera singer; Princess.
Maria, a former teacher and a 21- novice, who loved children, gave the new meaning of love and happiness by teaching the children how to enjoy being children. The von Trapp children loved Maria. Enter, the opera singer, Princess, comfronted Maria to leave and went back to the convent. At the end, Baron von Trapp fell in love and they got married. They left Salzburg and headed to Italy, then to the United States to meet the booking agent who would be the person to book their singing performances in the United States.
In 1956, Paramount Picture purchased the US film rights and the producer planned to produce an English version with Audrey Hepburn as Maria but it fizzled out. One of the directors got an idea for a
Broadway musical and Mary Martin would play the role of Maria.Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein ll were approached to the proposed musical. At first, Austrian folk songs and new songs would be featured but Rodgers and Hammerstein prepared all new music. And in 1960, 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights for a measly $1.25 million.
And became a blockbuster and loved by millions!
Comparing the two films, “The Trapp Family” and the film musical by the 20th Century Fox, “The Sound of Music,” I was knocked down when I saw the original story. For me, only 1/4 of the story is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp. No such of these popular songs: “Do Re Me…” “Climb Every Mountain”, “Maria” and devastatingly, no such Baron von Trapp’s rendition of “Edelweiss”, Austria’s national flower.
And the rest is a total fiction, especially the ending. In the West German film, fully-based on the real-life of the von Trapp family, they left for Italy and then to the United States to meet the booking agent who approached Maria when they won in one of the singing contest in Salzburg. In “The Sound of Music,” the von Trapp family escaped from the eyes of the Nazi after their performance in the contest. And ended up walking free on the Alps!
Creativity in lyrics writing and in composition, “The Sound of Music” has the ingredients of total family entertainment. As Robert Wise, the director, after Maria von Trapp complained about the film version said: “In Hollywood you make your own geography.”
And for me, “In Hollywood, mostly everything is reel.”
And Austria has become a tourist mecca but most of the Austrians are very lukewarm about “The Sound of Music.” As some elders said: “Most of the scenes were filmed outside Salzburg.” . And some scenes were taken in the Hollywood sets.
Again, “The Sound of Music” has never aged! As long as “The Hills are alive…”
Photo clips from 1956 movie, “The Trapp Family” youtube.