Revisited: The Wizard of Oz

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Kansas farmgirl Dorothy Gale lives with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and farmhands Hunk, Zeke and Hickory, but gets little attention and is told to stay out of the way because the farm incubator has malfunctioned and some of the chickens are dying. Land owner Miss Gulch arrives at the farm demanding that Dorothy’s pet dog Toto be destroyed after he bit her. Miss Gulch then presents with a sheriff’s order that allows her to take Toto, threatening to take away the Gale farm if they don’t comply. Despite the Gales being forced to give him away, Toto escapes and flees back to Dorothy, who, fearing for Toto’s life, decides to run away from home with him. On the road, she meets Professor Marvel, a travelling showman who pretends to foresee Aunt Em falling deathly ill. Dorothy rushes home as a tornado forms nearby. Dorothy’s family take shelter in the storm cellar, but, unable to get inside, Dorothy and Toto run into the house. Dorothy is knocked unconscious by debris, and wakes up to find that the house has been swept up in the tornado and carried into the sky.

After the house lands, Dorothy finds herself in the colorful Land of Oz, meeting Glinda the Good Witch and the Munchkins, who were terrorized by the Wicked Witch of the East until Dorothy’s house crushed her. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, appears looking for her sister’s Ruby Slippers, only for Glinda to enchant them onto Dorothy’s feet. After the Witch leaves vowing to get the shoes, Glinda suggests to Dorothy she go to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz to get back home. Dorothy and Toto follow the yellow brick road, meeting three companions on the way – the Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion who seek a brain, a heart, and courage respectively and accompany Dorothy. They reach the Emerald City but learn the Wizard sees no visitors, but are eventually let in. The Wizard appears as a giant head made from smoke and fire, demanding that they kill the Wicked Witch and bring her broomstick to him in return for granting their wishes.

The group venture out into the haunted forest to get to the witches’ castle and kill the witch, but she sends her flying monkeys to capture Dorothy and Toto. At her castle, the Wicked Witch decides to kill Dorothy to get the slippers, since they couldn’t be removed while Dorothy is still alive. Toto escapes and brings the Scarecrow, Tinman and the Lion to save Dorothy. They are surrounded by the Wicked Witch’s forces. She sets the Scarecrow on fire, but Dorothy puts him out with a bucket of water, splashing the witch and causing her to melt and die, leaving her broomstick, and the Winkies are happy to be free of her cruelty. Dorothy and her friends return to the Emerald City but the Wizard puts off his end of the bargain. Toto pulls aside a curtain, revealing the Wizard to be nothing but a harmless elderly illusionist. However, he gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Tinman a clockwork heart and gives the Lion a medal, proving that they had what they wanted all along. When it comes to Dorothy, the Wizard reveals he is also from Kansas himself and offers to take Dorothy home in his hot air balloon.

The Wizard and Dorothy prepare to depart, but Toto chases a cat, causing Dorothy to follow him. However, the Wizard’s balloon takes off, leaving Dorothy and Toto in Oz. Glinda arrives and reveals to Dorothy the Ruby Slippers can grant her the power to return home. After having an emotional farewell with her friends, Dorothy follows Glinda’s instructions, clicking her heels three times and repeating “There’s no place like home.” Dorothy awakens back in Kansas after being knocked out, with her family and Professor Marvel and Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory at her bedside, learning Oz may have been only a dream, but it taught her to value her home and her family

REVIEW:

Next weekend, The Wizard of Oz is being re-released in IMAX 3D in honor of the 75th anniversary of its release. Since I will have my hands tied next weekend and won’t have the chance to check it out, I figured what better time to watch it than now, right?

What is this about?

There’s no place like home for young Dorothy (Judy Garland), who’s been swept away from her farm in Kansas to a wonderland of munchkins, flying monkeys and different-colored horses. She must follow the Yellow Brick Road to the all-knowing Wizard of Oz to find her way home. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley) and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), who help her fend off the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).

What did I like?

Color. We start in sepia toned (not black & white) Kansas then are transported to the vibrant, beautiful, Technicolor Land of Oz. The contrast between the two worlds is as different as night and day and really emphasizes the differences between the two realms. This film was made in the year 1938, and 75 years later, the colors still stand out and don’t appear to be dated. That is a true testament to the legacy of this film.

Scope. We’ve all seen old films, right? Some of them look downright cheesy with their special effects, and yet, somehow the size and scope of tis film is almost epic. No wonder it stands as one of the greatest films of all time. Sure, there are places that look fake, but this is 1938, after all, what do you expect, seriously?

Multiple roles. Similar to the stage version of Peter Pan, this film allows for the character to portray more than one role (in the different worlds). The Wizard, Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man all play dual roles, which I found to be quite intriguing, not to mention that they save on casting!

What didn’t I like?

Acting. I know I’m probably going to get crucified for saying this, but the acting in this is quite atrocious, excluding Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch. The main culprit is a toss-up between Glinda and Dorothy, with the edge going to Dorothy because she’s the main character. Judy Garland has proven to be a capable actress before and definitely after this, but she is stiff and wooden here. The only time she seems to exude any kind of emotion is when she sings “Over the Rainbow” and cries for Auntie Em in the later parts of the film. The rest of the time, she might as well be reading ingredients on a cereal box.

Witches. So, we have two witches, but neither really used their powers. Glinda does a little with the poppies, but that’s about it. Why is it that we can’t get possibly a showdown between the two? Even in Oz: The Great and Powerful they didn’t get it on. Can we please get a witch battle in Oz?!?

The Wizard of Oz is one of those films that flopped when it was released, but went on to become one of the greatest films of all time. Sometimes a film is ahead of its time, and this is one of them. Having said that, there is very little to criticize about here. While it isn’t quite the perfect film, it is pretty close. If you haven’t seen it yet, what’s wrong with you?!? I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend it! This is the very definition of a film you must see before you die!!!

5 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Revisited: The Wizard of Oz”

  1. […] pass in Oz, only hours go by here in the real world (more on this later). If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, then you know Dorothy wakes up and is surrounded by her friends and family in her bedroom. I […]

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