The Sound of Music in Salzburg - Grusses aus Salzburg!

Grusses aus Salzburg! Greetings from Salzburg, Austria. The City of Music, the City of Mozart, the City of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It was here that a young novice named Maria first met the widower Captain von Trapp and his seven children, and it was from here that their story began, eventually to become a best-selling memoir, a German-language film, a Broadway musical, and the most successful movie musical in history.

Today is March 2. How perfect! 45 years ago today, THE SOUND OF MUSIC film gave its world premiere at the Rivoli Theater in New York. On March 2, 2010, I find myself  in this enchanting valley joined by a phenomenal film team from 20th Century Fox. We are here to create all-new interactive programming for the just-announced premiere Blu-ray edition of THE SOUND OF MUSIC coming for Christmas 2010.

Today was only Day #1 of our three-day shoot, and it was already jam-packed: a morning interview with Heinz Schaden, the Mayor of Salzburg, in his resplendent offices in the Baroque Palace Mirabelle overlooking the same-named gardens where the final sequence of "Do Re Mi" was filmed. Then on to the Felstenreitschule – "the Rock Riding School," an amazing structure that had once been stables carved out of mountain rock, turned into a concert stage. It is here where the real Trapp Family Singers performed in 1935, and it is also here where Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and Co. filmed the "Edelweiss" concert sequence.

Next, we dashed across the Alt Stadt – the Old City – to climb Monchsberg ("Monk's Mountain") and the famed Winkler Terrace, where Julie and the kids filmed the middle sequence of "Do Re Mi" ("…so we put in words, like this!") Today was a bit cloudy as a storm came in, but it didn't matter: I have seen this view in all kinds of weather and it always takes my breath away.


Bert Fink in Salzburg

Were we done for the day? Not even close. Over to the Friedhof, or graveyard, at St. Peter's Church. This solemn and dignified burial ground does not appear in the film, but it is clear (and documented) that production designer Boris Levin was inspired by its grillwork and grave stones when he created the Nonnberg cemetery set on a backlot at Fox.

Residenzplatz: a charming medieval square in the heart of old Salzburg, and featured twice in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Once, a scene of great joy, as Maria (Julie) cavorts past its large horse fountain, playfully splashing the sculptured beasts (while up-screen, through an archway, we spy the real Maria von Trapp in a a Hitchockian cameo). The other – a grim recreation of the Anschluss, or Nazi Annexation of Austria. Even today, 65 years after the end of World War II, history is very much alive in these ancient streets as we filmed another sequence there.

And finally, a homecoming: fans of R&H will recall reports from several years ago as the Salzburg Marionettes – who inspire the film's "Lonely Goatherd" scene but don't actually appear in the movie – created their own marionette version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, imaginatively directed by Richard Hamburger. We got to visit our dear friend Professor Gretl Aicher, grand-daughter of the founder of this nearly century old marionette theater, and we also got to hang around with a new friend – the marionette Maria. She was made of wood, she was hung together by strings, but when you looked into her eyes, she was absolutely alive.

Signing off from Salzburg! — BERT FINK

Bert Fink with Maria

Bert Fink with Maria, star of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC



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