Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wizard of Oz (1939)

This time we watched the classic film Wizard of Oz. Those who are not familiar with it are missing out on spectacular scenes such as the emerald city across fields of poppies, and the opening sequence in black and white sepia tones. Also, there are two of the most famous lines in film history 'I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!' cackled by the Wicked Witch of the West, and 'I don't think we're in Kansas anymore' said by Dorothy when she lands in Oz.
The film is about Dorothy, a farm girl who gets swept away in her house by a tornado to a magical world called Oz. She meets with other characters; Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion and they embark on a wild adventure to see the Wizard of Oz and seek his help in granting Scarecrow a brain, Tin Man a heart, Lion some courage and Dorothy a way back to her family and home. But the Wicked Witch of the West has other plans and captures Dorothy and tries to steal her ruby slippers. But Dorothy and her friends succeed in vanquishing the Wicked Witch and the Wizard along with the Good Witch of the North help Dorothy find her way home.

Directed by Victor Flemming in 1939, this film does not include all of the special effects we are familiar with today, but does make use of super-imposing film together as is seen in the tornado scene when Dorothy is being swept away in the house, and watching her family whizz past the window.

The opening scene of this films depicts Dorothy and her family's farm with the stereotypical farm house surrounded by picket fencing, shown in sepia tones. The use of this particular tone could be seen to link this setting to being the 'real world' as later in the film when Dorothy lands in Oz, the film seems to magically switch to technicolour and everything becomes fantastical.
After meeting with the other characters in the film; brainless scarecrow, tin man without a heart and cowardly lion Dorothy continues to travel through the land of Oz following the yellow brick road.

The underlying theme of this film is that that which you think you lack, you really have deep down and just need to explore within yourself to discover it. In this case, the characters embark on an adventure not only to find a way home, but to discover themselves in the process without knowing they are doing this. Of this, IMDB said: 'Oz is meant to represent the colorful palette of our imagination but for Dorothy it is also a place where she does some growing up.' Once they have completed the quest set by the Wizard to kill the Wicked Witch, he explains to the that they already had a brain, a heart and courage and that's what helped them aid Dorothy and face the perils. The Witch of the North explains to Dorothy that she always had a way to return home in the form of the ruby slippers, and all she had to do was think of home where all she ever wanted was.

The film returns to sepia tones at the end when Dorothy wakes up back on her bed, suggesting that the whole experience in Oz was just a dream. The return to sepia tones enhances the link between reality and dreams as Dorothy is back home with her family and no longer contains the magical fantasies of Oz.

In conclusion, this film still remains one of timeless classics that is still enjoyed by generation after generation for its colour, magic and fantastical characters and sets. Film 4 however had a different point of view, saying: 'Indeed, what with the plethora of little people, gaudy colour palate, flying monkeys and the most frightening villain this side of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's child catcher, it's possibly the most disturbing kids' film ever made.' In contrast to this review, NYT said: 'It is clear enough that Mr. Dawn, the make-up wizard, Victor Fleming, the director-wizard, Arnold Gillespie, the special effects wizard, and Mervyn LeRoy, the producing wizard, were pleased as Punches with the tricks they played.'

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