For the first film that i will review i decided to take a look at The Wizard of Oz. Why? Because it is one of my favourite films and i just watched it, on my birthday last week. Well, i gave away the ending to this review by telling you that it is one of my favourite films, but i will tell why it is one of my favourites.
The 1939 film is a classic and has been seen by more people than any other American film. It was adapted from the novel written by L. Frank Baum.
The black and white story begins with a young girl, Dorothy, running home in a panic because a wretched neighbour, which lives far away, wants to take her dog, Toto, away because he chases her cat. Toto is also the name of a pop rock band of the 80’s. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are too busy with their farming chores to listen to Dorothy, so she talks to the three farm hands. The three farm hands are a foreshadow of the journey she is about to take. Dorothy then sings the classic song Over The Rainbow; she wants to go to a place where there is not any trouble, a place far, far away. At this point i fell in love with the film because i wanted to go somewhere, far, far away from trouble too.
Then we meet Miss. Gulch, more foreshadowing of the things to come, the neighbour that wants to have Toto put to death. The dialogue between Miss Gulch, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, even though about putting the dog down, is humourous to me.
Dorothy runs away with Toto, along the way she meets Professor Marvel, another foreshadowing, a con man who convinces her to return home. She decides to return home, but a tornado has started ripping through the land. The whole family goes into the storm cellar before Dorothy makes it back. She runs into her room to get out of the storm, then gets hit on the head by the window. Her house is flying around in the tornado when she awakens. Through the window she can see all kinds of weird images. The house falls to the ground; when it lands, she says “oh” and i always laugh.
She goes out the door, into a beautiful colourful place that is not in Kansas, possibly over the rainbow. A large bubble comes out of the sky and delivers Glinda the Good Witch. She points out that Dorothy has killed a wicked witch, then we meet the Munchkins, to which all breakout into song. Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead. i really like the Lollipop Guild, i used to imitate them as a child. Okay, i still do.
After all the singing and funny dialogue with the munchkins, we finally get to the point of the story.
The Wicked Witch of the West appears. She wants to know who killed her sister, but Glinda reminds her of the Ruby Slippers, so she forgets about her dead sister and focuses on the shoes. As she reaches for the slippers, the Good Witch magically puts the shoes on Dorothy. She should have changed her dress because the ensemble does not match and is not practical for a journey in the forest, but it does not matter to the Wicked Witch, in fact it incites her and she makes a threat, “I’ll get you my pretty and your dog too.” She makes a dramatic exit.
Dorothy declares that she wants to return to Kansas, but i wonder why, she just arrived 10 minutes before and she even made the wish to be somewhere else 20 minutes prior. It just goes to show that we always think the grass is greener on the other side, well the grass is green because it is in colour, but she is still not happy. Glinda gives her directions to follow a yellow brick road, to a great Wizard, who might be able to help her get home, then she disappears in another big bubble. So many dramatic exits happen in this film.
Dorothy begins her journey down the yellow brick road.
She comes to a crossroad; we all do from time to time. A scarecrow tells her she could go one direction, then the other direction or go both ways. She helps the Scarecrow down from the pole up his back. He sings a great song, If I Only Had A Brain, which i did for my audition in drama class, then they continue the journey together. He is my favourite character, possibly more than the indecisive Dorothy.
They meet the Tin Man, sing another song, then encounter the witch. She starts a fire, on the Scarecrow. She really wants those slippers. Finally, they meet the Cowardly Lion, sing another song and go off to see the Wizard. i must say that the Lion is my least favourite character; i prefer the Wicked Witch over him.
This is the point i want to stop the review or at least warn there will be a spoiler alert.
The group meets The Wizard, after they go through a drugged poppy field and meet a horse of a different colour, but the Wizard gives them an impossible task. “Kill the Witched Witch and bring me her broomstick.” What does a wizard need with a broom? The place in which he lives is immaculate. All these people want things, but the broom is by far the strangest.
There is a scary forest, then flying monkeys, and Dorothy is trapped in the witches castle. Her friends try to save her and during their escape Dorothy throws water on the witch and she melts. If only someone had thought of it sooner, perhaps the smell of her should have been a clue. i am sure she smelt worst than the Germans that i sat behind on a bus trip i took to Germany one time. The witch, while melting, screams some funny things, but my favourite is “my world, my world…….my beautiful wickedness.”
Then my favourite line in the whole film, “May we have it (the broom)?” Dorothy asked. The soldier replies, “Please and take it with you.” i have turned that line around my mind for many, many years. If they asked for it, then i am sure they would want to take it with them. Would not they?
ocean summary and score.
The film is about women fighting over a pair of Ruby Slippers; an indecisive girl that runs away, then wants to be home 10 minutes later; a bunch of strange characters wanting something which they had the whole time; a witch that never bathes; and a wizard that hides in a closet behind a curtain.
The Wizard of Oz may not be the best film ever made for many technical reasons, but for many people, including myself, it is a sentimental journey down the yellow brick road of childhood, a journey that gives us a hope that there is a place over the rainbow of which we will eventually arrive safely from our childhood traumas. Also, for many women, it gives them hope of finding the perfect pair of shoes. My score is 5/5.