Transmedia storytelling is defined in formal terms by Henry Jenkins which I won’t regurgitate in this post because you can read that definition here or on many other sources revolving around the topic. In my own understanding of the term, transmedia storytelling is the unexpected, new and exciting features that transpire from one entertaining narrative. So, for example, I write a short story and publish it on my blog and it goes viral, it grabs the attention of established publishing houses and I am asked to expand this story into a trilogy, the books are a huge success and the licensing rights are granted to Netflix to make a series out of the books which adds more interpretations again; the possibilities go on and the world of one small story grows and grows.
Coincidently, I watched the Sound of Music for about the fifth time last weekend and when trying to find a case study for this week’s topic, TSOM (the abbreviation I’m using to refer to the film because I know both you and I will be sick of the title after the second time) fit the bill! And yes I realise I have a bit of a SOM motif happening here with last weeks’ gif. Perhaps the musical phenomena has not travelled as far as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books but the story marks an important event for the life of musical story entertainment. TSOM is based on a true story, the autobiography,
So perhaps the musical phenomena has not travelled as far as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books but the story marks an important event for the life of musical story entertainment. TSOM is based on a true story, the autobiography, The story of the Trapp family singers, written by the star herself Maria von Trapp in 1949. The story of the TSOM is common knowledge around the world and for those of you who don’t know it, shame on you and watch the movie, it’s a classic!
However, TSOM was not the first revival of the book, in West Germany 1956 The Trapp Family was first to bring the autobiography to life and the story was extended with a sequel to the film titled The Trapp Family in America.
In 1959 the first broadway musical for the story was written and brought to the stage and titled none other than the Sound of Music. What followed in 1961 was TSOM film written by Rogers and Hammerstein and starring the brilliant Julie Andrews and to date is the most successful adaptation of them all. Each stage production and film, adds details and fictionalises the story for theatrical purposes and you are given a new perspective and broader knowledge of the story with each inspired product. And TSOM empire doesn’t stop with the stage and movie screens, there is a SOM tour in the film’ location and set for the story; Salzberg, Austria. There is an online SOM shop and also online games & quizzes you can play. TSOM success was so grand that it pulled Twentieth Century Fox out of the danger zone of becoming bankrupt. The story of the singing Austrian family lives on and grows due to the countless licences handed out to theatre companies each year, the multiple screen adaptations and the obsessed fans who won’t let their story fade.
The beauty of transmedia storytelling is, it gives a life to the fictional stories people just want to have more of. Who doesn’t like finding out what happens beyond the last page or closing credits of your favourite book or movie?!
the Sound of Music – the Sound of Music from fact to phenomenon 1961, motion picture, Twentieth Century Fox, California, directed by Robert Wise.