The Wizard of Oz

Today I went on an archaeological expedition in the cellar. I was looking for things to sell for a charity sale. In the middle of all this bazaar I found a box of stuffs that belonged to Mom. It was a moment full of emotion for me, you can imagine.
Inside there were old DVDs, including 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” with Judy Garland. It was his favorite movie and one of my childhood movies. So much time to sink into the couch with my sister, huddled against mom to hum the songs!

In short I wanted to tell you about it, and to make you discover it if you do not know it.

Hold on your belt, Dorothy! We embark for the country of Oz.

Dorothy Gale is a young girl from Kansas raised by her aunt M who tries to escape after their neighbors have complained about her dog Toto. Desperate, she returns home when a tornado rises and carries her to the wonderful land of Oz.She must thwart the plans of the wicked witch from the west and snap her heels on the yellow brick road with the tin man, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion to get to see his family.

“The Wizard of Oz” is a pivotal film of American culture, released in 1939, and directed by Victor Fleming, who directed “Gone with the Wind”at the same time.
“The Wizard of Oz” is also one of the first technicolor films made by Hollywood studios, with a gargantuan number of actors and an awesome budget. And it’s also a musical with songs that many people know without knowing where they come from, like “Somewhere over the rainbow”

But “The Wizard of Oz” is also:

  • Full employment for small people;
  • Too much LSD;
  • Genetic mutations in monkeys;
  • The son of the Iron Giant.

For this super production, Richard Thorpe, who was the first director to take charge of the project, take famous names of the cinema of this time, like Billie Burk, and of course the magnificent Judy Garland who just signed to Metro Goldwin Meyer.

Well after reviewing the movie recently, I realized that Dorothy was really very silly (but it’s a trick that shares a lot of character of children until the 80s / 90s at the cinema)At the time of the shooting, Judy Garland was only 16 years old and was still far from being the little darling of Hollywood that she will become thereafter. However, from a young age, this carefree character stuck to his skin, until his appearance in the film “A star is born” in 1955.

Some shooting anecdotes:

  • It was originally intended to be signed by Richard Thorpe, who was replaced by George Cukor soon after shooting began. When Cukor decides to leave the film to shoot “Gone with the Wind”, it is Victor Fleming (who was also involved in the filming of “Gone with the Wind”) that is called to bring the project to a successful conclusion . As much to tell you that at first it smelled a little fir.
  • Victor Fleming contributed to the two greatest successes in the history of cinema, released in 1939 and whose filming took place at the same time.
  • And it’s not over, since the actor who was to interpret the tin man at the base was replaced after a serious accident, the man is “slightly” asphyxiated with the painting of his costume.
  • Another problem on the set, Margaret Hamilton, the wicked witch of the West is burned to the third degree following a pyrotechnic effect, which reacted badly with her makeup.
  • It is said that a figure would be hanged on the set. The body was found late, it is said that a scene was shot without anyone realizing that there was a dead in the field. but it’s bullshit.

What is “the wizard of Oz”?

The wizard of Oz is an adaptation of L.Frank Baum’s novel “The wonderfull wizard of Oz”.
It follows the typical initiatic tale.
A heroine finds herself transported into an imaginary world, a character gives her a magical object that takes place during a quest during which she will have to fight against an antagonist with the help of faithful companions. Yes, it’s the scenario of “Lord of the ring”!

In the film, we also note the passage from one world to another thanks to a door that reinforces the two-dimensional side and also refers to “Alice in wonderworld” with which Dorothy has a lot in common.
The wonderful in “The wizard of Oz” is also fueled by the notion of illusion that is treated throughout the film.
The sets, costumes and behaviors are deliberately exaggerated to highlight the dummy side of the universe of Oz. It also shows that Hollywood was at that time, is more than ever a dream industry.

The film also features a lot of strong female figures, they are fairies, powerful witches, reassuring and independent, brave mother figures … On the other hand, male figures are represented as defective. They lack a heart, a brain, courage.
But in general, adults are totally lacking in discernment and everyone seems to be off with the fairies.

What we often find in analyzing this work is that it is an apology for the American dream. Dorothy, looking for the emerald city, symbolizes the rural exodus from the countryside to the city where everything is possible and can not be realized if we take the trouble.
Finally the moral is “That’s no place like home” or “Home” represents the United States. The film reflects a very important nationalism in the 30s.
A notion of: The rest of the world stinks and we are still better at home.
Moreover, we often criticized the film his side a little too propagandist.

There are differences between the film and the book:

     1. The shoes of the wicked witch of the east are silver and not red in the literary version. Of course the film being technicolor, it turned out to be a wise choice to choose a color a little more radiant.

    2. The film version is also much more watered down, I admit I felt a little bad when Dorothy uses an axe to decapitate a cute little kitten!

We can note references to “The wizard of Oz” in heaps of other works of pop cultures: “Futurama, Matrix …”, but also in the music industry…

I’m sure we can blame The wizard of Oz for everything, but what we can not deny is its importance and its repercussions in today’s culture.
It will remain forever a monument of American cinema, a must-see film and without hesitation always one of my favorite films.

4 Comments

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