The Wizard of Oz

Year: 1939
Studio: MGM
Director: Victor Fleming
Writer: Noel Langley/Florence Ryerson/Edgar Allan Woolf/L Frank Baum
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton

Audiences at the cusp of the Second World War were still discovering the magic of the movies, and this film remained the ultimate moving picture show extravaganza for a generation and beyond. Even with today's multimillion-dollar budgets and limitless CGI few movies come close to replicating the perfect melding of size, fantasy, innocence, colour, scope and song and dance.

Despite almost constant claims of it being a Batman or Dracula, stories that started out fun and silly take on deep socio-political dimensions if they gestate in the pop culture consciousness long enough.

The whole film can be summed up in any number of classic lines, from 'I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too' to 'There's no place like home', but maybe that's just because they're such strong memories. It's a timeless story with a lofty theme we've seen everywhere since – that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Farm girl Dorothy (Garland, never as innocent or fresh faced again before the alcohol and drug abuse that blighted her life thereafter) is so hungry for adventure (much like a young farm boy in a galaxy far, far away) her world is literally colourless.

But Dorothy gets her chance when a tornado strikes, picking the house up with her in it and dropping it in a magical land called Oz, a place straight from daydreams that's as colourful, varied, dangerous and thrilling as Middle Earth or the Chocolate Factory and which gives director (Fleming) and the scriptwriters full flight for their vision of it.

Despite the incredible world around her and the amazing friends and sights she makes and sees, Dorothy's struggle is simply to get back to the farm, and the only one who it's said can take her – the titular Wizard who rules the land – is a long way down the Yellow Brick Road in the Emerald City.

One of the most interesting aspects is still whether it's all real. The characters in the story are all people from the life Dorothy knows – the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion farm hands who work for her father and the Wicked Witch of the West the nasty Mrs Gulch riding around the neighbourhood on her bicycle. All Dorothy's had to do the whole time is click her ruby slippers together and say the magic chant, and when she does and wakes up back home in Kansas, it leaves us wondering if she dreamed it all.

It's an enduring mystery if you think past the glitz and colour, but it's the glitz and colour you remember.

© 2011-2022 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au