Monday, June 22, 2015

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Written by Noel Langley And Florence Ryerson And Edgar Allan Woolf
Directed by Victor Fleming

Dorothy: "There's no place like home."

Now this was something I should've reviewed last year during the movie's 75th anniversary but seeing as we're another two months before it turns 76, I'm still kind of within the confines of an anniversary year, right?

It's hard to almost know what to say about this movie as virtually everything that has been said about it has been at this point but here goes - I really enjoy this movie. Now, I'm not going to say it's my all time favourite movie (that honour belongs to a certain Caped Crusader movie) but as an onscreen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's classic story, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, it's really not hard to see why it's actually stood the test of time.

Granted, even in 1939, Judy Garland looked a little too old for the role of Dorothy Gale but at the same time, you really couldn't imagine anyone else in the role at the time. She slips into the role (and the ruby slippers) with such an effortlessness, it's truly something to behold and the formatting in which the story is played out for the audience is one of it's many triumphs to be honest.

I love that the movie begins in sepia with Dorothy on the verge of losing her dog, Toto to the horrible Miss Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton) while swiftly introducing both Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, their farm hands, the Wizard himself in another guise and of course that infamous hurricane that pretty much took both Dorothy and Toto over the rainbow and to the land of Oz itself.

It's from there onwards, that all the familiar elements really do slot into place - singing Munchkins, the selectively helpful Glinda (I might have issues with her), a rather Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton again) and of course, Dorothy in possession of the ruby slippers and a band of friends - the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Man (Jack Haley) and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), whom she needs in order to defeat old Westy and get home as well upon the request of the Wizard (Frank Morgan).

If the Lord Of The Rings movies and prequels pride themselves on the journey aspect, then this movie really set the precedent for that motif. The way Dorothy met each of her new friends, the various obstacles it took to actually get to Oz and then the final confrontation with the Wicked Witch of the West herself are some of the best moments from the whole thing along with Dorothy eventually getting home herself.

It's one of those movies that's constantly aired and even if you're one of the rare people who've never seen it or even seen it in full, it's impact is still embedded somewhere in your subconscious. The ending isn't the strongest but it's still a satisfying way of ending the movie nonetheless and with the plethora of sequels (live action and animated), TV movies and even a certain arc on Once Upon A Time, this movie remains the most definitive take on Dorothy Gale of all time. However, only one other for me usurps it. That I will reveal tomorrow.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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