The Wizard of Oz

I can't remember the last time I watched today's movie - The Wizard of Oz, directed in 1939 by Victor Fleming. I think I liked it when I was a kid. I know I saw it, since I have always remembered the plot of the whole thing. I don't really remember my actual feelings about it, though, and neither do my parents. Thanks, guys. :/ My only Wizard of Oz related memory was when I was three and went to a haunted house that was at our public library. When I came out of it, there were people in costumes talking to the kids. Someone was dressed up as the Wicked Witch of the West, and she screeched at me "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!" Having not seen the movie, I took her threat seriously and began to cry. I had a little dog at home - how did she know? I imagine I was comforted when saw the movie and learned she could be defeated with water.

I bought it on Blu-ray a while back because I saw it bundled with Gone with the Wind for $20 and I knew I'd be watching both of those for my project, and I really wanted to see them both now that they have been restored. It was worth it to buy them. I feel like I never really watched this movie until now, almost. There were so many things that I was noticing for the first time. The Scarecrow had actual burlap on his face, not just brown makeup! It was really incredible to see it so bright and clean. After it was over, I watched a little clip about the restoration, and they showed a before and after shot - it was pretty shocking how much better it looks. Enough about the picture quality, though.

I really liked watching this again. It felt really familiar, and it was really fun to see it after so long. I found it more funny that I ever remember it being. The dialogue at some points is pretty humorous, and the songs are actually pretty witty. The rhymes are cute and well-written. It was for sure an impressive feat for 1939, but it worked so well because it didn't seem like the actors (mostly Dorthoy's yellow brick road friends) took it too seriously. They all seemed relaxed and silly, and it made it appealing to watch.

I also really just felt it was such a great movie for kids - I totally get why it's still something that people watch now, and it remains popular. I loved that Dorothy was able to be strong and independent. Ebert says that "Her friends on the Yellow Brick Road...were projections of every child's secret fears. Are we real? Are we ugly and silly? Are we brave enough? In helping them, Dorothy was helping herself, just as an older child will overcome fears by acting brave before a younger one" (The Great Movies, 495). The Lion, Scarecrow, and Tinman, all felt that they were lacking, but in the end, they already possessed the things they thought they needed. They were strong and smart and caring people, they just didn't know it. I think that it's a great message for kids, even if they don't fully realize the meaning. Nothing was too scary or creepy, and it was seemed like it would be nice that the villain could be defeated with water, and her own henchmen didn't even want to work for her. The world was a little less evil, and I guess, as someone who was traumatized by Disney movies, that this was much more magical and fun. At least it has a good take away message. I mean, what was the message in The Lion King? "Don't trust Jeremy Irons?"

I have had the worst migraine day (the kind that make me so..err...nauseous...that I can't even take medication for it) and it has not yet gone away, and I'm a bit tired of staring at this bright, white screen. I had a lot of fun watching this movie - maybe more fun than I had when I saw it when I was little. I was so impressed by the restoration done for the Blu-ray as well. I mean, yeah, the ending is stupid - it's too bad she didn't just stay in Oz with her cooler, more interesting new friends. But overall, I think it's a pretty good movie, and I loved watching it in high definition, after such a long time. I think it's a great movie to check out again, especially if you have a Blu-ray player. Even better if you have kids or nieces or nephews to share it with. :)

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The Wizard of Oz

Woman in the Dunes

Wings of Desire