The reason: When the movie was released in Europe, famous Austrian expats in Hollywood—many of whom had fled the Nazis—were shocked by the exculpatory portrayal of their collaborating former compatriots. It never became a hit in Europe; hence The Sound of Music is simply not a thing here. None of my twentysomething friends in Austria have seen it. My parents haven't seen it. My siblings haven't.
Nobody I know at home has seen it. It's not just the movie we haven't seen. We haven't seen the stage version of the musical either, which the editors of this publication have told me is being performed at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre this season. Don't get me wrong, we love our musicals.
Karl Kraus was a subject of controversy throughout his lifetime. At the peak of his popularity, Kraus's lectures attracted four thousand people, and his magazine sold forty thousand copies. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna Kenyon Critics Kenyon critics. Tony Kushner Tony kushner. Ani Gjika Ani gjika Albanian translator and poet. Rabee Jaber Rabee jaber Lebanese novelist and journalist.
Vienna is one of Europe's capital cities of musicals. Some of our musicals even made it to Broadway: Dance of the Vampires , for example. Austrians love American musicals, and the shows are translated into German and performed in Vienna to big crowds. When my friends in the United States made me watch the movie, they were doing it just to see my reaction.
And a reaction they got indeed: As someone who grew up in the place where the movie is set—I've climbed those mountains—my horror was substantial. Never mind the traditional costumes a better fit for Disneyland than the Alps , and never mind the completely distorted view of history.
Never mind the nuns who sing and dance like there is no Vatican. The real incomprehensible attack on common sense comes with the movie's blatant ignorance of geography, best shown in the "Do-Re-Mi" song. This very famous portion of the movie has Julie Andrews marching her flock of little Krauts through the city of Salzburg. Anyone who has ever visited the city must get dizzy from the illogical tour they take, appearing absolutely incoherently in one place just to magically run through another one, located far away, a few frames later.
And that's just the movie—and I realize that kind of geographical distortion is common in movies. People walk down a street in, say, New York or Chicago, turn a corner, and they're suddenly miles away.
But since I grew up in a place where not many movies are made or set, witnessing this was a new and unpleasant experience for me. But the deeper problem is the material itself. The story Rodgers and Hammerstein laid before American audiences is a very far-fetched interpretation of the real events that took place in the run-up to World War II. The historical goofs are plenty—just go on the IMDb page of the movie and enjoy. Sure, anyone who has any sense for entertainment knows you have to tweak a story to bring it to the stage or the big screen.
But what the composers did to the Trapp story had an enormous impact on the cultural depiction of my people. Firstly, the musical and the movie turned Americans into pathetic little fanboys who know all the songs by heart and even started dubbing their favorite lines in the movie.
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