The 1959 film Die Trapp-Familie by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, based on Maria von Trapp’s memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, inspired a Broadway musical and six years later Robert Wise directed the film which would guarantee the story of the von Trapps would live on through the generations.
When I was growing up my regular visits to The Prince Charles Cinema, just off Leicester Square in London, would always hold a moment of curiosity. The poster for Sing-a-long-a-Sound of Music would have an almost permanent placement on the corner of Lisle Street so I knew people must be filling the seats and airing their voices again and again. An old friend used to terrifying me by bellowing out Edelweiss from an adjacent room at odd hours of the day or night. I knew most of the songs off by heart despite never having seen the film.
When I did take the time to watch the film it was easy to see why people fell for it. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer gave good voice and antagonise each other playfully. Remarkably none of the children are in the least bit irritating, and are well drawn into the narrative and this is where we segue into the Family Scrapbook recently released by Carlton Books. Telling the story of the film’s production through the personal reminiscences of the seven children is a fine way to shed some new light on this famous film. Editor Fred Bronson has collected diary entries, call sheets and facsimile copies of autograph books, telegrams and thank you notes from Robert Wise among dozens of rarely seen photographs from the families of the children and other miscellaneous items from their pre and post-von Trapp careers.
Each of the children tell their own story and together they talk about their anticipation and fears, the joy of their families as well as how the film affected their lives. The book brings to life the film’s production in a very new way, and if you’re a fan of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical it’s an essential purchase. Also included in the book is a thirty minute DVD of their personal footage of the shoot which acts as a bizarre time capsule and makes a great accompaniment to the book. It’s a lot of fun seeing the cast and crew parade around the streets of Salzburg, with the kids pulling faces for the camera while Julie Andrews looks on with a smile behind the scolding look she gives them, and it’s one of many joys fans will find in this book.