Movie Review: The Wizard of Oz

One of the things about movie syncs is that if you view a film with a particular soundtrack more than the unaltered version, it becomes difficult to break that connection. Case in point, The Wizard of Oz. Last night, I came home and fixed myself some leftovers. I was tempted to go back to my car and get “Dark Side of the Moon” from the CD player but let it be, substituting that for a T-shirt and lounge pants with the iconic prism.

Dorothy gets hit in the head by a window and has a vivid technicolor dream, learning that there is no place like home.

I tapped my fingers in tune to the heartbeat, sang along in my head, vocalized the cash register and more. Needless to say, nobody around me knew what I was doing or referencing, giving me strange looks. That’s how strong the connection is.

I didn’t see this until I was seven or eight. For the most part, it was following the dots that I found in pop cultures references and urban legends. As a kid, I thought it was an OK movie, nothing too spectacular. Now I see how large of an impact this film has, even appearing in my work when I look for it (like using color as a framing device in Touch).

The fact that every few years, a new restoration is released should say something about how important it is (or how many times people want a copy of it). I only have the 1999 DVD print and it suits me fine, especially on a large screen. I never noticed that Scarecrow has a gun with him when they are approaching the Wicked Witch’s castle. It’s not that it’s well-hidden but it blends in to the point where you don’t know what he’s holding. I didn’t think Oz would have guns.

The film, while praised many a time, does have its flaws. All I remember from the movie is up until the Lion crashes through the window and it fades to black (I’m not sure what to make of that transition as it’s the only occurrence within the actual story). From there until the death of the witch, it feels rushed in order for the “good vs evil” conflict to be resolved and to get to the “what have we learned?” portion of the film.

While I do like a musical now and then, I like the songs to propel the story forward. “If I Were King of the Forest” doesn’t do that at all. True, we get a different “I Want” song from the Lion but the momentum and excitement stops just so that the song can be sung. I’d rather have him speak his lines rather than sing them.

The flying monkeys never scared me. I suppose if I watched this at an earlier age, then I’d be scared. Then again, I first watched it on a ten inch screen ten feet away from me, so the distance probably affected my impression.

I do not doubt that this is a good film. Even if you can see the strings and the man behind the curtain, I’ll still watch this but more than likely it will be with Pink Floyd.

7/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

AFI Top 100 (1997): #6

AFI Top 100 (2007): #10

400 Noms for AFI Top 100 list for both years

Winner of Best Song and Best Original Score

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