The Wizard Of Oz has moved from being a film into being a part of the DNA for the human race. Victor Fleming’s film is so etched into our psyche that it’s hard to isolate it as a single piece of art. However, this adaptation of L.Frank Baum’s novel is able to transcend these obstacles ans it’s still a remarkable cinematic achievement 75 years after it was first released.
Everything about this film works – the visuals, casting, acting and music all connect to make a sensory feast. From the opening sepia scenes to it’s spectacular Technicolor moments, The Wizard Of Oz connects on a level like few other films. It’s remarkable to think this was released the same year as Gone With The Wind – which was also directed by Victor Fleming. To direct one classic is remarkable, to direct two in the same year is mind-boggling.
While The Wizard Of Oz is now primarily seen as a children’s film, there’s much more to it than being a film ‘just for the kids’. Rich and layered, Fleming’s film is about the loss of childhood; it’s about growing up and moving on. The entire film is centred around Dorothy (Judy Garland) being faced with the realities of life, death and difficult choices when her beloved Toto faces certain death at the hands of her wicked neighbour Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). The film’s iconic line of there being ‘no place like home’ echoes this sentiment and the biggest fantasy in the entire film is that you actually can ‘go home again’ – even if it’s only within your mind.
The Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are now iconic characters, but each of them serves a vital role in the plot, helping Dorothy on her ‘hero’s quest’ to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Each serves the plot and their own search for brains, hearts and courage serves to underline the necessary components for simple human behaviour. This is more that a morality tale – it’s a lesson in existence.
On a visual and storytelling level, The Wizard Of Oz has influenced so many films to even count. The impact on Tim Burton’s career is obvious, while few seem to even mention how much it influenced George Lucas’ original Star Wars. Both films feature a wide-eyed naive lead living on a farm who must defeat a dark and evil villain. Along the way they meet a ‘wizard’ who helps them on their quest, with the assistance of a variety of colourful characters (among their number a ‘tin man’). Both Luke Skywalker and Dorothy must infiltrate a well guarded fortress to defeat their foe, whilst their companions disguise themselves.
A true classic, The Wizard Of Oz has much to recommend. Now seen as a children’s film ,Victor Fleming’s film has much more to offer. A visual feast that also contains impressive performances, great songs and a witty script. This is a stunning cinematic achievement that really deserves to be watched again and again.
There’s so much on offer with this 75th anniversary blu-ray that it’s difficult to mention it all. The film has a 3D version, sing-along track and a plethora of documentaries. This classic has got the wonderful treatment it deserves. Fans will be more than over the moon – they’ll be over the rainbow. This is a must-own release.