The hills are alive with … My Songs, My Dreams? The Sound of Music in Germany and Austria | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1750-3159
  • E-ISSN: 1750-3167



Robert Wise’s 1965 screen version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music was one of the biggest blockbusters in Hollywood history: in the United States alone it had box-office takings of $1.16 billion (adjusted for inflation). It was a smash hit and became an important pop-cultural reference point in countless other countries around the world. But, to the utter surprise and dismay of film distributor 20th Century Fox, The Sound of Music failed to win over audiences in the very territory in which the story was set. In fact, the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar winner of 1965 was such a flop in Germany and Austria as My Songs, My Dreams (English translation of the German title) that it did not even recoup its dubbing costs. To this day, the film remains virtually unknown in either country. This article investigates several potential reasons why the film never ‘clicked’ with Germans and Austrians, such as the popularity of two earlier German films about the Trapp family singers, the 1956 movie Die Trapp-Familie and its 1958 sequel Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika. It also considers the US film’s portrayal of fascism and its inauthentic depiction of Austria and Austrian culture. Other factors that might have been crucial in the reception of My Songs, My Dreams include local reviews, the advertising for the film, the German dubbing and the general disinterest of Austrian and German audiences in Hollywood musicals.


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