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Ringside Report Movie Review: The Wizard Of Oz


By Geoffrey Huchel

Running Time 1 hr 42 minutes
Directed by Victor Fleming

The Wizard of Oz, the Technicolor classic of 1939, remains one of the most beloved films of all time, having delighted audiences for almost 80 years. The film, based on the children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, was shot in sepia and color, to illustrate the comparison between Kansas portion and the Oz portion of the film. The process proved successful as it sets up the entire film brilliantly. The film’s heroine, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), is seemingly troubled by the depressing and unsatisfying life that she believes plagues her. Dorothy imagines escaping her dismal life in Kansas in search of a better place that she hopes will make her troubles melt like lemon drops.

In 1939, special effects were nowhere near as advanced as films today. The Wizard of Oz has its share of memorable moments that relied heavily on special effects to capture those iconic scenes on film. Two key scenes, the tornado and the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West are crucial to the film’s plot and needed to be executed perfectly, and they were.

The cinematography of the film was just as brilliant and was certainly no small feat for that time period. When the film transitions to the colorful land of Oz one can’t help but be mesmerized upon seeing the dazzling scenery and vast landscapes of the fantasy world. The creative team responsible did an amazing job with what they had to work with. The Wizard of Oz, in terms of special effects, was definitely ahead of its time and certainly paved the way for hundreds of blockbusters that followed.

This film was blessed with performances of an extraordinary talented cast. Although an ensemble, this film belongs to Judy Garland, who captured the innocence, vulnerability and heart of Dorothy Gale. With a supporting cast that included Frank Morgan (who plays the title character and an additional 4 roles), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion), Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch) and Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West), who, with just 13 minutes of screen time, has solidified herself as one of the most menacing and memorable villains in movie history.

There is no doubt these actors were born to play these iconic characters.

The most important piece of the film is of course, the message. Dorothy longed for a place that could take her away from her drab life on the farm, but during her journey to Oz, she came to the realization that she didn’t need to leave Kansas after all. Oz may be beautiful and vibrant, but it couldn’t possibly replace home. The end of the film transitions back to sepia, which this time around is fitting as Dorothy is relieved to be right back where she belongs. The Wizard of Oz may not have been well received in 1939 but in the nearly 80 years since its release it remains a timeless institution in American cinema and continues to captivate the hearts of millions. It is a true pop culture phenomenon.

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