Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Film Review: The Wizard of Oz

The fourth film we watched from the ‘Worlds Apart’ film programme was The Wizard of Oz, which was directed by Victor Fleming which was released in 1939.

The Wizard of Oz, a classic fantasy fairy tale which is made even more beautiful by addition of technicolour! 

The Wizard of Oz is fantastic in the fact that it uses technicolour to depict differences between reality and fantasy. In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw states;

"There's nothing to beat the incredible sugar-rush of that shift from sepia-monochrome to full colour as Dorothy realises she's not in Kansas any more."

And it really does make a difference, I mean it's one thing to watch the film in black and white but for it to switch to colour was a brilliant idea. The vivid colours, strange creatures and extraordinary settings really bring Oz to life and make it feel full of wonder and excitement (to a point where it gets a little too wonderful) which shows a major contrast to the dullness of black and white where there is little imagination and excitement.

Like I said this film is full of fantasy and wonder but sometimes it oversteps into a zone of discomfort where the fantasy and wonder are taken too far. Richard Luck, a reviewer for Film4 really picks up on the fact that this film overreaches itself at times;

"Indeed, what with the plethora of little people, gaudy colour palate, flying monkeys and the most frightening villain this side of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's child catcher, it's possibly the most disturbing kids' film ever made." 

A particular example of this would be after Dorothy arrives in Oz, kills the Witch and legions of small people start singing with high pitched chipmunk voices. It does become uncomfortable not only to hear but to watch. It doesn't seem natural to have some many people constantly happy even are threats are thrown at them. Yes this film a brilliant to watch as a kid because it's fun and colourful and you'd be into fairy tale fantasy, but at a grown up level you start picking things out and realising "hang on, that's just weird". 

On a brighter note the characters in this film all have and perform double roles (with the exception of several individuals). Tim Dirks review for Filmsite states;

"Many of the film's characters play two roles - one in Kansas and their counterparts in the Land of Oz, the locale of the young heroine's troubled dreams."

The roles played in the real world by the farm hands portray what and who they are in reality, hard working and decent people, however when Dorothy arrives in Oz she encounters manifestations of each of the three farm hands as she would see them in her mind, a brainless clutz, a gentle but heartless tin man and a coward under the masquerade of brave lion. To me Dorothy seems to be putting forward how she sees each of them as individuals. And then of course there is the Witch. There's not a great deal of change between the character in reality to her Oz form other than a few fancy tricks, evil monkeys and a flying broom.

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