Wednesday, 30 November -0001
HOW THE HILLS CAME ALIVE
On the release of a new book on The Sound Of Music, Melonie Clarke meets two of the ‘children’ who helped to make it the soundtrack for a generation…
By Melonie ClarkeIn the summer of 1964, seven children spent a magical summer in Salzburg, Austria. The outcome of which was one of
the biggest lms to come out of the Hollywood hills that were, thereafter, very much alive with... The Sound Of Music.
And now, The Sound Of Music Family Scrapbook, the ultimate accessory for any diehard fan, documents their journey through the making of the film – and how, ultimately, seven young boys and girls became a family.
The actors are still so close that the real Von Trapp family refers to the seven grown-up children as the 'non Trapp' family. Heather Menzies (who played Louisa) and Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) tell me that the seven child actors were very hands-on during the process of compiling the new book. 'The scrapbook was an idea of ours collectively and we wanted to have as much input as we could,' says Nicholas.
Looking through the book, it is clear that this is very much a 'family' scrapbook. Filled with behind-the-scenes
pictures and a home movie DVD, it brings you ever closer to the film that thrilled lm goers and played to packed theatres around the world. But how does one go about sifting through 45 years' worth of Sound Of Music memorabilia?
'If it hadn't been for our manager, Peter Hankwitz, there would be no book. He helped us narrow everything down. It was really difficult to decide, because all of the items were so personal,' says Heather.
'There were photos that I didn't even know existed, and stu I'd never seen before. We literally had these bins full of photos and plane tickets – everything. It was great for us to see each other's collections of photos.'
Nicholas's favourite part of the book is the DVD, which features clips from their own home movies. 'They are our own films and the only ones that exist of life behind the scenes,' he says. 'There's nothing in the book that hasn't come out of our own memories or memoirs or mementos that we had at home.
'We could have had well over 1,000 photographs, taken by our mothers. When the next edition comes out, we will have to add some more.'
The music for the film is the soundtrack to many a childhood. So it's surprising to hear that during filming, no one had any idea quite how big the film would be. 'We had no idea. No one did: the director Robert Wise, not even the studio. At the time it was a big gamble because the studio was in dire straits – it put all of its eggs into one basket and made the film. Fortunately, they made the right decision,' says Heather.
Nicholas goes on to say, 'I think everybody knew they were working on something that was very high quality and that they were working with wonderful people. But as we all know, that isn't necessarily a guarantee that the audience is going to enjoy the film. As soon as it opened, though, we realised how big it was going to be, and it is now o cially one of the most popular lm musical in history.'
Nicholas then tells me an endearing story that re ects the lm's enduring popularity. 'I kept my lederhosen, which I gave to my niece – but she sold them on eBay! I was so cross when I found out but they did pay her university fees for a whole year.'
Clearly The Sound Of Music is as loved now as it was when Julie Andrews first ran on the hilltops in 1965. So why do they think the lm has stood the test of time?
Both Heather and Nicholas agree that the 'songs, scenery, beauty, the story, good versus evil', are the secrets behind its enduring popularity, because they are all messages that are as resonant today. 'There's something about the goodness of the story and the goodness of the family that makes people want to believe in it. It is possible in the world to do the right thing, to behave honourably, the way the Von Trapps did.
'I also think that if you first see it when you're a child, you can always be one of the children, and kind of identify with them. You can kind of adopt one who is closest to you in age and I think that happens a lot.'
In fact, people tell them that all the time: for instance when they were five, they identified with the character
of Gretl, and when they were 13, they felt a particular bond with Louisa or Friedrich.
The Sound Of Music's 50th anniversary is fast approaching. The studio doubtless has its plans for the big day, but the book remains very much in the hands of the 'children'.
Heather and Nicholas end by saying, 'We are thinking about doing another edition, adding more material and memorabilia, which will be great, as we have so much more to put in.'
Either way, don't expect the volume of The Sound Of Music to be turned down any time soon.
The Sound Of Music Scrapbook, by Fred Bronson, including a DVD of exclusive on-set and behind-the-scenes home-movie footage, is published by Carlton Books, priced £25.
WIN A COPY OF THE SOUND OF MUSIC FAMILY SCRAPBOOKWe have three copies, signed by Heather and Nicholas, to be won. Send your name, address and phone or email details to The Lady The Sound Of Music Competition, The Lady 39-40 Bedford Street London WC2E 9ER, or fill out the entry form online
Daily tip from the lady archive
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