Friday, 4 June 2010

Follow the Yellow, Brick Road – A Few Short Notes, No Digressions

I didn’t cover The Wizard of Oz on Sunday – because it’s not my absolutely favourite musical – it’s the ever dreaded #2. Jose and Ruben both looked deeper into the classic spotting things that had never occurred. Of course, that’s one of the main indicators that a film is excellent – when you can keep returning to it and finding new things. The thing is, I often forget that the The Wizard of Oz is a musical. It’s not that the songs are poor, headlined by the class “Over the Rainbow” and backed up with sweet tunes like “If I Were the King of the Forest” and “If I Only Had A Brain” it is just as fulfilling in its moments of adventure as it is in its moments of music. What I remember The Wizard of Oz for most is the one thing that has been borrowed by countless story tellers (on film and otherwise) – our hero’s departure to a strange, new world that turns out to be a dream. Incidentally this running gag is the weakest part of The Wizard of Oz’s strong story, but all things considered it’s only weak by comparison and it’s only lost its brilliance today because of our overexposure to it.
The Wizard of Oz is one of the films I remember earliest from my childhood. I can’t recall the exact age, but I know I saw it when it had all switched to Technicolor. Upon my “discovery” of the earlier sepia toned portion I found myself more charmed by Dorothy’s adventures (or lack thereof) in Kansas. She’s obviously out of place, and it made me realise how important this portion is to her “development”, and I couldn't help but smile every time Judy said "Oh, Aunty Em" in that earnest way of hers. The Wizard of Oz is doing so much even though it seems like a standard home, away and back home story. I always marvel at Judy’s ability to be meek while still having a sort of bravura that’s most attractive. She has a thing for line readings, even at that age, and sure she spends a significant portion of the film admonishing the things she meets it’s never too much. Of course Dorothy’s growing dissatisfaction with Oz is key to the message the story has to tell us. It’s part of the weirdness of the entire film though. Sure, the Wicked Witch of the East is evil and all, but the celebration is almost perverse as we watch those crazy Munchkins rejoicing.
It’s nice that The Wizard of Oz has endured for so long. As much as I love Shirley Temple I balk at the idea of her as Dorothy. It’s a little gem, that works as much for the adult as for the child – and that’s a bit of a rarity.

3 comments:

Robert said...

This is such a magical film. It's so lovely...I still cry whenever I hear "Over the Rainbow".

Simon said...

Oh, lovely. I love this movie, I do, but I haven't seen it in awhile.

joe burns said...

An AMAZING movie! Judy Garland is a GODDESS, the most talented actress I've seen.