The Hills are Alive!

Salzburg proved to be my favorite city on our European tour. It is where much of The Sound of Music film was made.

If you were to ask me what are my top ten films of all time, I’d be hard pressed to give you just ten. Chances are, by tomorrow, I’d have a different top 10, because, frankly, there are so many great films out there. Besides, my list would undoubtedly change, depending on my mood.  But there’s one film that will always be in my top 10:

The Sound of Music

That’s why, for me, the hills are always alive!  And, when I close my eyes, I’m forever 16 going on 17. When I take a walk with Henry, I’m really climbing every mountain, searching high and low. And, I always have confidence that spring will come again, while my favorite things will always be snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

Yes, I love everything about this film—the music, the story, the children, and the house they lived in. The first time I saw it, as a child, I recall how I especially loved the Von Trapp children.

Of course, my favorite was Angela Cartwright who played Brigitta. She was the only one of the kids I recognized from TV. She was already a household name, as one of the stars of a popular sitcom called, Make Room for Daddy, featuring Danny Thomas as the dad. I thought she was totally cute and would make the perfect friend, should I ever run into her in Queens, which, alas, I never did.

I also remember developing a deep crush on Christopher Plummer who played the Captain. OMG, those stern, narrow eyes that twinkled the moment he realized he was in love with Maria. That half smile and the uniform he wore. That whistle! Thinking about him still gives me goose bumps. Sigh.

Yes, I just adore The Sound of Music! Which is why, when I was planning my trip to Europe I decided I had to make a stop in Salzburg just so I could take The Sound of Music tour.  And, hands down, it was one of the highlights of my trip!

After all, that movie was released in 1965, and the tour remains one of the most popular activities for visitors to Salzburg, with several different tours offered, but only one is the original tour. Not being one to accept substitutions, that’s the tour I took.

Yet, it turns out, that Austrians, particularly those who live in Salzburg, are not as fond of the film as the rest of the world is. For them, having seen a documentary version of the Von Trapp family story, produced in Germany before the film came out, they have no interest in a film they consider a fictionalized version of the Von Trapp story.

But, I don’t give a hoot whether the Rogers and Hammerstein version is real or not. If you ask me, The Sound of Music has it all—music, drama, humor, suspense, romance, gorgeous scenery, curtains for making outfits to frolic in, and Nazis.

Besides, the Von Trapp family were real, weren’t they?  So that makes the film true enough, in my estimation. Or at least, as Stephen Colbert might say, there’s some “truthiness” to the tale.

The Sound of Music will live eternally in the hearts of millions all over the world, including this Latina from Queens, who, upon arriving in Salzburg looked for the nearest hill to climb, so that I could belt out the opening song, but all I could find at the train station was an escalator.

Good enough, I thought, as I stepped on the moving stairs and broke out in song,

“The hills are alive with the sound of music!”

Well, so much for my moment in the sun. Herewith, some photos from our Sound of Music tour:

The tour begins!

Maria splashes the water in this fountain while singing, “I Have Confidence.”

The gazebo, which was built by the film crew, was left as a gift to Salzburg after production ended. The interior dance shots were filmed in a studio, as the gazebo itself was not big enough to accommodate all that prancing around.

My daughter and her friend, who accompanied us on our trip, reenact a scene from the “Do-Re-Mi” number.

Recognize this shot from the film?

The home used in a scene depicting the rear exterior of the Von Trapp house.

The only interior scene actually shot in Salzburg was the one in which Maria and the Captain marry.

The hills really are alive!

This cemetery inspired the set where the Von Trapp family is hiding from the Nazis, and Rolfe, the messenger boy blows the whistle on them. The actual scene was filmed on a set in Hollywood.

And one more:

I once told you that I love statues. I snapped this picture right after a storm, in the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria and the children performed, “Do-Re-Mi.”

If you’ve ever been to Salzburg, I’d love to know what you thought of this city. But if you haven’t been here, is there a place you’re hankering to visit, where one of your favorite films was made?

36 thoughts on “The Hills are Alive!

  1. You’re a nostalgic soul, such as myself! I still love that film! What’s not to love? Classic! This beautiful write-up and visit to the “hills”, makes the film worthy of another viewing for me.

  2. Monica, I love, love the film “Sound of Music!” Oh my goodness, now I can’t stop singing, “Doe, a deer, a female deer!” hee hee! These shots are fantastic! How wonderful that you were able to see so many of the film’s locations and settings! Those companions of yours are a hoot! What fun to be in the company of such cheerful ladies! I can imagine the three of you dancing and prancing to the tunes of the film! Oh, to be a tourist on that touring bus and to have captured you three on film doing just that! 🙂

  3. Great piece, Monica. You’ve captured the feeling of the place beautifully, as ever. You make me want to travel. I have been on the road, but packing up the daughter’s car and driving 1,000 miles, to unpack and make ready her dorm room for another year isn’t quite as exotic, although I do love Santa Fe.

    You’re pictures and words should be in a travel spread somewhere..

    • Oh, Brenda, one day. One day you should see it. I’m so glad I went. And with my daughter. It brought us both a lot of happiness just to be there. Driving 1,000 miles sounds like it could be stressful. I helped my daughter move in her first year, and I haven’t done it since. Why is it dorms never have elevators? Three flights of stairs. Need I say more? 😉

  4. Monica, what a treat to visit your site after my hiatus and find one of my favorites – if not all time favorite – featured here. Singing ‘The Hills are Alive with The Sound of Music,’ in Austria on top of the mountain where the opening shots take place, is on my bucket list. I envied Julie Andrews for getting this moment.

    But I heard an interview with her about it and she said it was the most horrible filming moment of the entire movie. Apparently the helicopters they used to get the shot of her whirling around on the hill, produced heavy wind currents that kept knocking her down. They would do take after take and she was bruised all over.

    Looks like you had no problem with that. I simply must get there. Your pictures are divine and I want to know how you managed to refrain from bursting into song every few minutes. Love it!

    • Renee, I heard about the filming of the opening, too. Sounds dismal, but if you ask me, all the sacrifices they did to make that film were worth it. Think about how much money it has brought in to all involved over the years. Think about all the joy it’s brought to the rest of us. Ever since I posted this, I keep getting people writing me, stopping me to tell me this is their all-time favorite film. And I couldn’t agree more! 😉

  5. ♪Ditto, ditto, ditto!♫ I love everything about that movie.
    However, no, I have not been to Salzburg.

    You are a wonderful mom to accompany your daughter on a “dream come true tour” of all the things/places that captures the spirit of this film.

    I loved that I spent the days either daughter was sick from school watching that movie with them. And I loved that daughter #1 continued to choose to watch it over and over during the summer vacation months memorizing every song!

    Thank you for a very enjoyable post. I love how you intertwined the words to the songs in your sentences. My heart was singing with you.

    • Georgette, that film means so much to us, that visiting Salzburg made perfect sense for us both. And I’m so glad we went. The town oozes with charm and beauty. Just loved everything about it. I’m so glad you liked my post! 🙂

  6. Oh, Monica, I LOVE this post, as the Sound of Music has been my favorite all time film for as long as I can remember–though my crush was on Julie Andrews rather than Christopher Plumber. If I ever make it to Austria, I would love to do the tour!
    So long, farewell————-for now.

    • Kathy, Julie Andrews has such a kind, sweet demeanor, beautiful voice, pretty eyes and a sprinkling of freckles. I’ve always been a great admirer, myself. I love that film through and through. I defy anyone to find a flaw in it. It’s too good!

  7. Doe a deer a female deer — now I can’t get that song out of my head — it looks so beautiful – I wanna go I wanna go I wanna go, and I want some of your CHOCOLATE!!! Thanks for the great story. SHer

    • Sherri, I still have some chocolate if you want to stop by…And, yes, you should go. It was on my bucket list and I’m so glad I can now check it off. Mission accomplished, and I had the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Monica, we must be sisters from different parents! I LOVE The Sound of Music, and I’m just pea-green that I couldn’t go along on your tour. Salzburg looks breath-taking, and it’s definitely on my “must see” list! Thank you for capturing its loveliness and sharing it with the world.

    • Thank you, Debbie. Glad you enjoyed. Salzburg was my favorite part of our trip. I love it’s small town charm, buildings, statues, bridges. It shuts down early, but it’s where I also felt safest.

  9. My heart just did a neat little jump – you too! oh my gosh! The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady will be forever on my top 10 list of greatest films. I had no idea there was a tour. So so beautiful. I would be singing right there with you about ‘those hills being alive’ and you couldn’t stop me because I would twirl and twirl until I am dizzy. My girls always sing along with me. So, I imagine, if we were to visit, the tour would be the first thing we would do.
    Your daughter is gorgeous Monica. Thank you for posting. I have begun my day with a smile… er well, I smile all the time but, you know what I mean…

    • Oh, MM, My Fair Lady is also one of my favorites. I just love Lerner and Lowe. Gigi is another with great music. There’s nothing like the musicals of that era. Simply wonderful! Glad you enjoyed this post and thank you so much for the compliment re my daughter. Now you’ve made me smile! 🙂

  10. I love The Sound of Music, too! In my 8th grade theater class, we had to do a lip synch performance and I chose the theme song. I brought in my mother’s Broadway cast album with Mary Martin as Maria. My classmates all did Def Leopard and Joan Jett songs and they thought it was really weird that I knew all the words to that goofy musical number. 🙂

    But when I went to Salzburg with my high school French class and we visited several of the places you saw on the official tour, everyone loved it as much as I did, so I guess I’d found my tribe by then. I had no idea there was an official tour, so now I must go back!

    • Do you know, Shary, that the very first time I saw Sound of Music was on Broadway, starring Mary Martin? Oh, how I loved that musical, so I grew up with the Mary Martin album. I recently bought it on iTunes, though I also have the Julie Andrews version. They’re both quite good. You were out of your league in school, but I’m glad you came into your own and finally met your match in high school!

  11. I’m with you Monica on two counts: first, I love, love, love The Sound of Music, and I also love, love, love, Salzburg. Such a beautiful city, although I didn’t take the S of M tour. I spent time retracing Mozart’s steps, and was enthralled to know that I was walking in this genius’ steps!

  12. I wasn’t in Salzburg long enough to take the Sound of Music tour. If we’d had ANY extra time I know I would have jumped right on that bus as well.

  13. Lovely images Monica, and you sure look as though you all enjoyed it. Certainly beautiful scenery.

    Now I must admit something, between just the two of us you understand, as I know my secret is safe with you!!! I have never ever seen the Sound of Music, not never not ever.

    I will now go and stand in the corner!!!

      • True I can’t say I am a lover of musicals, but not a fan of Julie Andrews either to be honest. Her accent grates on my senses, I know of nobody else with an English accent like that.

        I know I am sad but that’s what I think!!!! I will now be descended on by all your other Julie Andrews fans, I will take to the hills while I have the chance.

      • Maybe I’m not good at picking up on accents, but she sounds fine to me. I love her singing voice and her warm personality. I grew up on musicals, spending countless hours seeing shows on Broadway. It does the heart good to listen to beautiful rousing show tunes. At least, that’s what I get out of it.

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