Alternate Endings: The Sound of Music

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wendi and I watched the film version of The Sound of Music with Jo for the first time yesterday, and we all enjoyed it. (Wendi and I had of course seen it many, many times.) What surprised me most on this 40th (!) anniversary DVD was a deleted scene found on the extras disc. Apparently the original movie did not end with the von Trapps happily singing their way over the mountain in their escape from Austria to Switzerland. The original ending was a bit more bittersweet, but it didn't play well with test audiences and so was cut from the final edit of the film. Here's what happens:

As in the theatrical release, Maria and the Captain wed, and their honeymoon is cut short when Germany annexes Austria as part of the Anschluss. The Captain is called into military service by the Nazis, and he and Maria engineer an impromptu escape after performing with the children at the Salzburg Music Festival. With the help of the nuns at Maria's former convent the family is able to elude the soldiers who pursue them, although they learn that the main border crossings have been closed. Despite the Mother Abbess's concerns about the rigors of crossing the Alps into Switzerland, the von Trapps see no other option. Maria, after all, grew up on that mountain, and "could never get lost on it."

But while the movie we know and love ends there--with the family hiking up a sunny, grass-green mountain to the strains of "Climb Ev'ry Mounatin"--the original follows the von Trapps into the heights of the Alps, where winter has already set in. Without food or water or appropriate clothing, the family fights for survival. A starving Friedrich, the older of the two Von Trapp boys, falls to his death in a chasm while chasing a doe, a deer, a female deer. Maria challenges the surviving von Trapps to buck up with a reprisal of the first-act tune "I Have Confidence," but the Captain is angry at Maria for getting them lost in the mountains and their relationship becomes strained.

Heavy snows set in, and the Captain leaves the family behind to seek help. While they await his return, Liesl gets frostbite and loses three fingers. Brigitta, who dearly loved to read, ironically becomes blind. In a desperate attempt to call for help, Maria leads the children in the yodeling bits from "The Lonely Goatherd," but only succeeds in bringing down an avalanche. As the days pass and no rescue arrives, the remaining von Trapps are forced to eat Gretl, the youngest of the von Trapp children. To make the situation more "palatable," Maria sings a new song called "No One Will Know."

Later, just as little Marta goes to sleep for the last time, hunters find Maria and the surviving von Trapps and lead them to a popular ski lodge that was, shockingly, mere yards away from them in the storm. Worse, Maria has led her new family not into Switzerland but into Italy, where they are captured by fascists. The Captain is never found and is presumed dead, and the film ends with Maria trying to lead her four disheartened step-children in another round of "My Favorite Things" as a truck takes them away to prison.


Sara Z. November 19, 2008 at 10:46 AM  

This is freaking. hysterical.

Christin November 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM  

You had me going all the way until the family ate Gretl. I'd already started Googling for verification and hoping desperately to find the YouTube video.

I got about halfway through and very nearly started reading out loud to my co-workers. "Listen to this! This is the alternate ending!" I'm so glad I read through to the end first. ;-)

Jackie Parker November 19, 2008 at 7:48 PM  

You are sick Mr. Gratz! Sick!

and kinda funny.


Sara Z. November 19, 2008 at 8:01 PM  

By the way, it is now eight hours since I first read it and I'm still laughing. I don't know what that says about me.

Deborah Wiles November 20, 2008 at 6:01 PM  

HA! My laugh of the day, thanks so much. I'm suffering from the world's worst head cold and sinus infection, and you just opened up all the canals. Thanking you through a bushel of Kleenex, I remain your fan, Debbie

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