Here’s a common experience for American expats moving to German-speaking Europe. Also a topic specific in particular to women from my generation. (*Note – I retitled this after I couldn’t shake the feeling that “Small and White, Clean and Bright” had racists undertones and Nazi echoes… which it might have, given the topic of the film. Either way, it’s much more provocative now, don’t you think?)
I came across a Sound of Music discussion online that led me down a path here. What caught my attention was a youtube video of the Edelweiss song. If you can stand to hear about it, read on.
Ah the Edelweiss song.
Imagine for a moment: you grew up watching that movie (all chopped to hell on non-cable TV but whatever).
You drowned in the eyes of Captain von Trapp and then dutifully also developed a crush in the more appropriate young Rolf (who in real life also painted your parents’ house, hows that for Hollywood glamour?).
Many years later you grow up and fall for a tall blond German with a strong jaw and blue eyes.
You go to visit him for the first time and drive straight to Austria, through Salzburg, to the alps where the famous flower grows along the roadside.
And then, as you’re there getting to know one another, BAM! You learn, no one’s seen or even heard of the damn movie over there and the friggen song is a Rogers and Hammerstein concoction for the film.
Ok, in reality it’s not like this movie was a true defining point in my life, nor was it the reason I ended up here. In fact it only occurred to me much much later that had I really had a super-duper crush on Rolf like some of the girls in my class, this would have been a funny addition to my story.
But you can’t ignore the fact that this movie played like every summer and every Thanksgiving on TV in California. It had a big influence on Americans’ impressions of Germany (so much so in fact that Americans mostly missed the fact that Germany and Austria were not all one country…which was apparently also Germany’s problem in this movie. This continues on today…how often do people ask the Germans what they think of Schwarzenegger being in Governor California? Lots.)
So it was a little deflating to learn that one of the few things to that shaped a lot of American’s impressions of “Germany” was so completely unknown over here that I couldn’t even make cultural references and be understood.
“I’m waiting for you like an empty page” gets zero response.
By the way, for those of you who remember and are fond of the movie, here’s a typical California end-note on the actor who played Rolf. At some point after the film, he was helping his dad out with his housepainting business and wound up painting my parents’ house. Later on he gave acting and voice lessons that a school friend attended. This last bit came to light at school when someone talked about the movie (as every grade school-aged girl will have done at least once in our generation), I proudly contributed that he painted my house and then my friend Beth totally trumped me with the fact that he was her singing coach. Bitch.
I just did a little search on him to see what he’s up to and found that TSOM was his first and last film (flash in the pan) and he kept a relatively low profile after that. This didn’t discourage a few nut jobs who went looking for him online (present company excluded of course), made a freaky website in his honor, declaring their love (also here), and posted tiny insignificant details about the poor man’s activities in order to make some connection to their lives….. Hmmm.
Ah. Whatever. If you’re looking for him though, looks like he might be in North Carolina, and if you want to hear his voice today, click here for a recording of his Ode to Studebackers, a labor of love for the American automobile.