on 25 August 1939 (USA)
Length: Runtime: 102 min
Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
A story of a young girl that is being harassed by her neighbor after Toto bites the neighbor’s leg. When told that Toto is going to be taken away Dorothy runs away but then runs back to the house due to her concern for her family. Dorothy winds up not being able to find her family and is whisked away on an adventure.
This film is presented in chronological order as she is taken away, lands on a witch but is told that she can find her way back home with help from the wizard. Then she starts her journey, winds up meeting her companions, the scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion, who also want to find the wizard. I think the chronological order used in this was wise, as showing this out of order would have confused the audience more than showing them why everyone wanted to see the wizard, and more importantly, why the wizard was so important in the first place! And how Dorothy even got into this crazy, enchanted land!
There is a lot of foreshadowing at the very beginning of the story as you are meeting each of her neighbors. They all have something similar to the characters in Oz. Also, when she is in Kansas the film is shot in black and white, however, when she steps out of the house and into Oz everything is bright and beautiful and instantly, even though the film had already captured my attention, I knew this was going to be exciting.
Getting to know her character and her companions is just half of the fun of this unique film. The way the characters are introduced helps the viewer immediately feel attached and have a sense of knowing about them. Also wonderful strategy for introducing characters, short, sweet, and to the point!
I think if the film would have gone off of chronological order or had there not been in color it may not have had the impact that it had. The idea of Oz being this wonderland was clearly presented and easily interpreted and especially so for audiences in the 1940’s when technicolor first came out. But even today a story like this, and the music behind it can take us to new places along with Dorothy.
For my first time seeing this I honestly thought it was cleverly done and I can see why everyone has loved this for years!
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Writers: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, and based on the book by L. Frank Baum
Judy Garland (Dorothy [Gale])
Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel [/The Wizard of Oz/Doorkeeper of Emerald City/The coach driver/Wizard’s doorkeeper])
Ray Bolger (“Hunk” [/The Scarecrow])
Bert Lahr (“Zeke” [/The Cowardly Lion])
Jack Haley (“Hickory” [/The Tin Man])
Billie Burke (Glinda)
Margaret Hamilton (Miss [Almira] Gulch [/The Wicked Witch of the West])
Charley Grapewin (Uncle Henry)
Pat Walshe (Nikko)
Clara Blandick (Auntie Em)
The Singer Midgets (The Munchkins)
YouTube. (2014). Movieclips [Video Channel]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQLNS3HWfCM
YouTube. (2014). Movieclips [Video Channel]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSZxmZmBfnU
American Film Institute. (2008). AFI’s 10 top 10. Retrieved from http://www.afi.com/10top10/moreDetail.aspx?id=7892&thumb=1