02-10-2016, 10:22 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen...


�Toto, I�ve a Feeling We�re Not In Kansas Anymore��
�Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) to her dog, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Well, girl�



You have JUST DEFINITELY opened the DOOR to OZ!

Well THIS 1930s MOVIE, anyway, has absolutely got to be AVATAR And TITANIC director (and creator of the first two TERMINATOR movies) James Cameron�s MOST ABSOLUTE FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!

And that movie has got to be MGM�s 1939 musical movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Well, as far as big movies go, there is time for the obscure and forgotten, and then there is time for the cherished and beloved.

Sure, plenty of other big movies, particularly those from the Classical Hollywood period, remained respected by the critics while modern audiences struggle to connect with such things, but then there are also some movies, like MGM�s 1939 Wizard of Oz, that not only stands the test of time, but also continues to entertain and also get some cherished and treasured Mc�Lovin�.

Such a movie like Wizard of Oz is discovered and embraced by each and every whole new generation as passionately as any previous generation, while the story has crossed over into a global cultural consciousness.

And even if they�ve never seen a movie like Wizard of Oz, people can sing along to a song like Somewhere over the Rainbow, and will understand a reference to such a thing when someone like Dorothy Gale, the author of the above quotation, taps her shoes and chant that �There�s No Place Like Home�.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) is now 75+ years old, but, long before the likes of George Lucas� 1977 Star Wars movie, and also James Cameron�s 2009 AVATAR movie as well, remains a key picture in the making of what became of modern cinema.


The movie�s story sees Dorothy (played in the 1939 MGM movie by a 17 year old teenage girl who goes by the name of Judy Garland), a young Midwestern girl growing up on a Kansas farmland, caught in the powerful eye of an impressively rendered tornado and magically transported ('in her dreams', BTW) to the Land of Oz.

It is here that she�along with a ragtag trio of misfits consisting of a living Scarecrow, a Metallic Tin Woodsman, and a Cowardly Lion who couldn�t count sheep in his sleep�must travel along the legendary Yellow Brick Road all the while having to avoid the attentions of the spooky Wicked Witch of the West (who, along with Oz the Great and Powerful himself, are both accused of scaring the living shit out of so many children for more than 75+ years).

Her destination: The Emerald City, where the mysterious and aforementioned Oz the Great and Powerful�'The Wizard of Oz' referred to in the title�resides�usually in the form of a big scary green head surrounded by fiery explosives.

Yep, the story�s probably all-too-familiar to all of us, but what really, really, REALLY sets The Wizard of Oz apart from all the rest isn�t really the 'what' as the 'how' so much. It�s actually a movie done in service of spectacle, a movie that�like James Cameron�s AVATAR tried to do 70 years later�sets out to test the limits of the then-newly born medium of cinema in each and every frame of said movie.

So when Dorothy and her dog Toto arrives in Oz, viewers would see her opening her eyes in faded sepia toned black and white film complete with a frame crackling with the technical imperfections of the time in which Wizard of Oz was made and released (the 1930s to say the least).

However, as the Kansas farm girl opens the door herself and steps outside, they glimpse Oz (or at least a part of Oz called Munchkinland) and are completely overwhelmed with Technicolor, which is the 1930s equivalent of the very modern 21st century digital performance capture CGI kind of stereoscopic 3D technology that is worthy of and which is pioneered by the likes of James Cameron�s AVATAR (2009) 70 years later.

When Wizard of Oz first came out at Grauman�s Chinese Theater (now TCL Chinese Theater) in August 1939 (the month before the absolutely greatest cataclysm in human history fully erupted in the form of World War II), all this would have been the very first time so many audience members had really seen a truly live action movie in color (though the movie Becky Sharp had already pioneered that in 1935). And as the scene of Dorothy opening the door to Oz plays out, Victor Fleming�who directed the Technicolor scenes while an uncredited King Vidor directed the sepia toned black and white scenes that begins and ends the movie�became fully aware of all this and so took his time to pan around Munchkinland, all the while lingering upon the extravagantly constructed sets as a wave of hallucinatory colors hits all kinds of viewers from all kinds of angles.

And then along came the special effects, a musical number featuring hundreds of actors (which includes, of all songs, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (the witch that the song refers to was The Wicked Witch of the East, who was flattened by Dorothy�s fallen farmhouse), and then a showdown with the spooky antagonist, the aforementioned Wicked Witch of the West.

((As a matter of fact, the scenery and costume designers at MGM were all encouraged to use as much color as possible to take full advantage of the three-strip Technicolor format!))

The whole time, viewers are adjusting to seeing full color for the VERY FIRST TIME.

The Wizard of Oz, you see, is the kind of movie that came with the approach of �if less is more, then how much more must more be�, and it�s dazzling in all its no-expenses-spared kind of production values for in that sense, it�s very much the forerunner of modern blockbuster movies ranging from Steven Spielberg�s JAWS (1975) and George Lucas� original Star Wars movie (from 1977) to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy (2001-2003 directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson as well as James Cameron�s AVATAR movie (2009), but only with musical numbers instead of action set pieces.


Even though the story is crafted to be the perfect vehicle to show off the wonderful new toys that 1930s Hollywood had at its disposal, it�s actually deeply rooted in both character and emotion.

So while we discover a new world, we all do so through the prism of a distinct framing device.

And unlike most adventure movies that featured a group of characters who were all united by one common goal, in the Wizard of Oz, each of our four heroes is searching for something that said hero lack.

And it isn�t fame or fortune, ladies and gentlemen, but rather something personal that they believe will make them whole.

And so

1) Dorothy Gale lacks a home or her Kansas farmstead

2) The Scarecrow lacks intelligence or a brain

3) The Tin Man lacks human emotions or a heart


4) The Cowardly Lion lacks his courage or bravery

And each character in the magical world of Oz is introduced to the audience in a location where they are all vulnerable, where they all think the Wizard�s help is the only thing that can save them from certain doom.

You see, all four travelers are on their very own hero�s journey or their very own agenda, if you will, so it�s just as important to any viewer that the Tin Woodsman should get a heart for human emotions as it is to see the Wicked Witch of the West defeated and condemned to death by melting thanks to a bucketful of water being splashed on her face.

Even though the Wizard of Oz movie from 1939 marked a groundbreaking step in terms of technical achievements, I think that�no doubt about it�its success also lies in keeping close to the principles of simple storytelling and in its universal appeal as some kind of quest movie that follows some kind of rite of passage thingy or something like that.

So the audience will get to see the Kansas orphan Dorothy Gale undergoing a trans-formative transition that transform her from a child who is protected in her home to a heroine navigating a new and dangerous world all the while relying on a traveling trio of companions who symbolically needs emotions, intellect, and courage, respectively.


Throughout the 1939 movie of Wizard of Oz, the action stays more and more intimate even as it becomes more and more epic, and each and every character is already strangely all-too-familiar to you and me.

For example, The Wicked Witch of the West is an ABSOLUTE dead ringer for Dorothy�s equally evil neighbor Miss Gulch who wants to have Dorothy�s dog Toto put down and destroyed. The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion, respectively, all strongly resemble the three farmhands from back home in Kansas, while Oz the Great and Powerful himself turns out to be Professor Marvel Who Excels In Rather Phony Fortune Telling.

So the most prominent characters in the Technicolor Land of Oz all mirror characters back home in Kansas, which in the American Midwest, making it all too clear that Oz is just Dorothy�s dream world JUST as AVATAR�s alien moon of Pandora is allegedly the dream world of a disabled, wheelchair-bound former military soldier whose name is Jake Sully (aka Sam Worthington).


Yes, MGM�s 1939 The Wizard of Oz may revel in spectacle, whether THAT spectacle comes in 'witches and woods' or in �lions and tigers and bears, oh my!�, but at its very core, Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic tale that deals with the themes of friendship and of personal growth, and the secret to Wizard of Oz�s longevity for 75+ years or so may be its balance between the theme of personal growth and the theme of friendship.

And not only is The Wizard of Oz a memorable story told both in a vivid kind of splendor and with imagination, but it�s also a movie that transcends its time to become not only James Cameron�s most absolute favorite movie of all time, but also one of the absolutely most beloved and the most cherished and the most watched and also the most treasured movies that the 20th Century has ever, ever, EVER produced!

�There�s No Place Like Home��
�Dorothy Gale�s way of going back home to Kansas before she wakes up from her dream in The Wizard of Oz (1939)


P.S. Apologies for such a long post, and you don't have to read all of it if you want to, but any appreciative comment or especially any opinion on Wizard of Oz (1939) is more than welcome. Thank you.

And BTW, What do you think of The Wizard of Oz (1939)?

04-23-2016, 12:14 AM
Damn sure!