How to Film the Sound of Music - Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts

January 04, 2019

This week’s fascinating fact takes a look at one of the most beloved film musicals of all time. But how do you film in a city that raises objections to the material?

It’s such a short fascinating fact this week but who doesn’t love The Sound of Music? Interestingly the hill were almost not alive with the Sound of Music in 1964 when filming began because the city raised objections to some of the content wanting to be filmed.

For anybody who hasn’t seen The Sound of Music, and really you should stop what you are doing and do it right now before continuing to read this blog, the story concerns a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg, Austria in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children. She brings love and music into the family and the whole film is rightly regarded as a classic for its jubilant songs and excellent performances from Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. What more would you expect from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical?

For the history buffs amongst you, you may have noted that being in Austria in 1938 probably wasn’t an ideal place to be considering WWII started the very next year. The film does focus on the Third Reich annexing Austria but in order to do so, the filmmakers wanted to hang swastika-laden banners from buildings in the city. As one might expect, city leaders objected to such a display.

Considering the importance of the scenes, and CGI not being what it is today, director Robert Wise faced a tricky stand-off. So how do you film The Sound of Music in a city that does not want you there? It turns out that Wise turned to history. He threatened that if the city did not allow him to hang the banners he would instead use genuine archive footage of the city rapturously greeting Hitler from the 1930s. The city immediately backpedalled and they were allowed to film the scenes.

The film went on to win five Academy Awards and Salzburg still generates enormous amounts of tourism from The Sound of Music. If it wasn’t for some quick thinking on the part of Wise, the importance of the film may not have transpired.



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By Henry Fosdike