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The Sound of Music - 50 years on

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The Sound of Music - 50 years on
Photo: 20th Century Fox
20:02 CET+01:00
It’s the film which brings thousands of tourists every year to Salzburg but it’s virtually unknown in Austria. Fifty years ago, The Sound of Music - the movie based on a successful Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway musical - premiered in New York.

Julie Andrews starred as Maria von Trapp, a real life ex-nun who married an Austrian naval officer after she became governess to his children.

The Sound of Music’s feel-good family values, catchy tunes and beautiful alpine scenery turned it into the biggest grossing musical of all time.

To celebrate the anniversary, Vienna’s 1960’s-era Gartenbau cinema is showing the film (in a new, high-quality restored print) as a special Sunday matinee, on March 1st and 8th at midday.

Gartenbau manager Norman Shetler said that ticket sales have been surprisingly good.

“It’s only really known here through word of mouth, most Austrians still haven’t seen it and don’t really know what all the fuss is about,” he told The Local.

The real fans are American, British, Japanese and Middle Eastern - so Shetler expects a largely expat crowd.

“But if people show up in Dirndls and Lederhosen that would be cool,” he said. “We’d love it to be a collective experience - the cinema has 736 seats - and it could get really campy. We’ve tried to do sing-alongs before with the Rocky Horror Show but there isn’t really a repertory culture here, Austrians just don’t sing along!”

He did reveal that someone with the name Trapp has booked tickets for the screening, so wonders if a descendent of the Von Trapp family will be there.

The film only ran for a very short period in Austria and was subsequently dropped - perhaps because the instances of Nazi complicity depicted in the movie were unpopular at a time when Austria was attempting to forge a new, democratic future for itself.

But it put Salzburg, where much of the film was shot, firmly on the tourist map.

Panorama Tours offer two four-hour Sound of Music tours a day, every day, all year - which are particularly popular with Americans.

The Salzburg Festival takes place in the same theatre where the von Trapp family win first prize at the end of the film, while St. Peter's Cemetery nearby was used as a model for the scene immediately afterward, where the family hides from the Nazis.

The original von Trapp villa in the suburb of Aigen, where the family lived before they fled to America in 1938, is now a hotel.

Afterward, it became the main residence of SS head Heinrich Himmler, who built the high wall that surrounds it today.

The musical draws crowds in Salzburg, as does a puppet version of story. Photo: APA/Gindl

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