Compared to The Trapp Family, one almost gets the impression that The Trapp Family in America works almost on autopilot. What was successful in the first film is almost faithfully re-presented here. The music moves, but not as much as it should, and similarly, the numerous flashbacks that refer back to the 1956 feature film come across as excessively contrived.
Far away from Austria
Two years have passed. Wolfgang Liebeneiner’s The Trapp Family has also been a great success outside Austria. The story of this numerous family of Austrian singers – the Trapp Family Singers, whose story was previously told in the novel of the same name by Maria von Trapp herself – has fascinated viewers of all ages. But viewers, as we know, often want more and more. And after seeing how the Trapp family was received in the USA, they are undoubtedly curious to find out how these singers rebuilt their lives far from home. Thus, in 1958, The Trapp Family in America was made, again directed by Liebeneiner and in which we see the same cast that had made the previous feature film so successful.
We are, then, in the United States. A small bus with the inscription ‘The Trapp Family Singers’ travels through the streets of the city. On board: the entire Trapp family, accompanied by their friend and mentor Dr. Weisner (played by Josef Meinrad). The children sing a traditional Austrian song. The atmosphere seems peaceful, but something worries their mother Maria (Ruth Leuwerik). Will the audience ever like religious songs and folk songs that have nothing to do with the local culture? At their concerts, unfortunately, only very few spectators go.
In The Trapp Family in America, then, we see how our protagonists have settled into a totally new world far from home. The feeling of alienation, the strong nostalgia for their homeland, but also a courageous optimism despite the economic difficulties act as perfect protagonists. Yet, if we think of the feature film The Trapp Family, everything changes. And this concerns above all the narrative structure, which in this second film is inevitably more monotonous and repetitive, despite a few amusing gags and the undoubted skill of the entire cast.
Compared to The Trapp Family, then, one almost gets the impression that The Trapp Family in America works almost on autopilot. What was successful in the first film is re-proposed here almost faithfully (see, for instance, the family singing in chorus with Ruth Leuwerik who looks at the camera at the end of the song and addresses the viewer directly). The music moves, but not as much as it should, and similarly, the numerous flashbacks that refer back to the 1956 feature film come across as excessively contrived. What a pity.
It happens, however, that when a film has achieved great success, one feels the need to make a sequel. And, unfortunately, it also often happens that such a sequel turns out to be completely unnecessary and lacking in personality. This is the case, for instance, with the last two films of the successful saga dedicated to Sissi (Ernst Marischka 1956 and 1957), as well as this The Trapp Family in America. Audiences undoubtedly love this nice singing family. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.
Original title: Die Trapp Familie in Amerika
Directed by: Wolfgang Liebeneiner
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 1958
Running time: 88’
Genre: drama, musical, biographical
Cast: Ruth Leuwerik, Hans Holt, Josef Meinrad, Adrienne Gessner, Wolfgang Wahl, Peter Esser, Till Klockhow, Holger Hagen, Claus Lombard, Michael Ande, Knut Mahlke, Ursula Wolff, Angelika Werth, Monika Wolf, Ursula Ettrich, Monika Ettrich, Horst Tappert
Screenplay: Herbert Reinecker
Cinematography: Werner Krien
Produced by: Divina-Film