Monday, November 2, 2009

The Hills Are Alive with The Sound of, Music

Set and (partly) filmed in Salzburg, Austria, The Sound of Music must be one of the most visually stunning movies ever. In my opinion. Since it also happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies, I naturally jumped at the chance to go to Salzburg and see the setting for myself. And it really is so beautiful that it has stood out as one of my favorite things places.

First, a test of my recapping abilities for the benefit of anyone who lives under a rock or really hates musicals and therefore hasn't seen The Sound of Music. TSOM is the fictionalized account of a real Austrian (turned Vermontian) family that fled Austria and the Nazis before World War II. Basically, an enthusiastic but hopeless nun becomes governess of seven at-first-obnoxious-but-eventually-lovable children and falls in love with their strict, naval captain father who falls in love back. Most of this is accomplished with singing. They escape from the Nazis. The end! Since I like accuracy, I'll just point out here that the movie is quite different from the real story. Okay, moving on.

As I mentioned, a lot of the movie actually was filmed in and around Salzburg. (Check this out for some recognizable city sights: I wish I knew how to just post the video.)

And even now, more than forty years later, you can still tell. Salzburg is both beautiful and well-preserved and, although the lack of Nazis was a clue, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Maria kicking her heels up and singing or the kids hopping up and down steps in Mirabell Gardens. Actually, that would have been pretty awesome. I wonder if they do reenactments.

I think I took this picture right from the bottom of the steps.

For those of us that love TSOM, there are Sound of Music tours that visit all the places featured in the movie. Sadly, I did not have time for one of those tours and I'm still upset about that! I'm determined to get back to Salzburg though, and next time I'll definitely do it. Even so, I got to see quite a few places featured in the movie. Some examples:

This is used as the back of the von Trapp house. Note the lake, look for a capsized boat and waterlogged children with their governess. Maria has confidence here.Last time I saw this, people were skipping through it...

And I do have one neat little fact about the von Trapp's great escape to Switzerland to share. Actually, several little facts:

First of all, as many people already know, it never happened. Yes, the family fled the Nazis. No, they did not walk to Switzerland. For one thing, it's much too far. For another, they didn't have the manufactured drama of a movie to deal with and were able to just leave. I believe they took the train to Italy. And on a related note, the other side of the mountain crossed in the movie is, in fact, in another country. Switzerland? No, remember? I already said it's not Switzerland. Could be Italy, right? Well, it could be but it isn't. Believe it or not, it's Germany. Yes, the von Trapps technically escaped the Nazis by running right to... the Nazis. Oops. Even more than that, one of Hitler's houses was just over on the German side of the mountain. Double oops.

Salzburg is "alive with the sound of music" in other ways as well. (I'm sorry I went there. Truly.) Mozart was born there and in fact, the Salzburg airport is named for him. I love that. Both houses Mozart lived in are now museums and nice places to visit. Many people know that Mozart's grave is unknown, though there are some myths surrounding his burial and grave. His sister Maria Anna, however (also a musician), is buried in Salzburg, in the cemetery of St. Peter's Abbey:

This cemetery is notable for other reasons, including the inspiration for the part of TSOM where the von Trapps literally hide from the Nazis in a cemetery. Yes, this really is a cemetery and it's actually really impressive--those openings are part of a cliff that borders the cemetery and (I think) houses the catacombs.

Well, if I didn't manage to convince anyone else that Salzburg is fabulous, I certainly convinced myself. Time to go back, I think.

1 comment:

  1. I just got the image of the Von Trapps wandering into Hitler's garden and the family getting very confused but making the most of it with a song for the Fuhrer. That's less Sound of Music and more Mel Brooks, eh?