Monday, March 30, 2015

the last book I ever read (The Sound of Music Story, excerpt two)

from The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro:

Thanks to the stage and screen versions of The Sound of Music, Maria ultimately came to be viewed as an all-loving, benevolent earth mother, but perhaps because of the tribulations she and her family had experienced, she also possessed a moralistic worldview that pointed to a firm belief in the concept of hell: “the complete absence, and also forever and ever, of everything heaven is.” It is no incidental point that in her autobiography Maria emphasizes the fact that Jesus mentions hell thirty-seven times in the Gospels: “One can go to hell not only for what one has done, but also for what one has not done.”

Such a fire-and-brimstone view of hell was certainly not what had attracted the attention of filmmakers to the story of Maria’s life. No, it was the sheer trajectory of her story, the trip from abbey to instant motherhood and singing stardom, that made her life seem tailor-made for the movies. According to family publicist Alix Williamson, Hollywood had first expressed interest in Maria’s life story when The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was published in 1949, but Maria firmly turned down the offers, dictating that the film could only be made if she played herself. When, six years later, the German film industry came calling, Maria wanted an infusion of cash for the family coffers, and without ever consulting her lawyer, sold the rights for her life story to Wolfgang Reinhardt for $9,000—with no royalties. In Johannes’s understated take on the sale: “My mother was never very good at business deals. She was too impatient and didn’t like having an agent. It was a very bad deal.”

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