Anthony's Film Review
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz is simply one of the greatest motion pictures ever...
I was introduced to movies at a very early age, but I cannot really say which movie was the first one I was exposed to. If you ask me about the first movie I ever saw, I would simply identify my earliest clear memory of one. That would be the time I saw The Wizard of Oz. I was an eight-year-old boy in grade school. One day, my teacher pulled a TV and VCR to the front of the room and had all of us kids gather around to see The Wizard of Oz. I sat next to a girl who had already seen it and says it's very good. While she was reliving her joyous moments, I was about to have mine for the first time.
I still remember the beginning of the movie from that day. I remember Judy Garland as a Kansas farm girl named Dorothy, her dog Toto, the song "Over the Rainbow," and that tornado whisking her house away. What also stuck me was the transition from black and white in the Kansas scene to Technicolor once Dorothy and Toto step into the land of Oz. It's a nice way to represent leaving one world and stepping into another. Even my thirsty eight-year-old mind found it fascinating.
It became clear that this is a fantasy story, exactly the kind of thing children, like myself decades ago, would enjoy. Dorothy meets the Munchkins and the Good Witch named Glinda (Billie Burke), who tells Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road in order to find her way home. Besides the Good Witch, there is also the Wicked Witch of the East, who died when Dorothy's house drops on her, and the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) who seeks revenge on Dorothy. Even to this day, I remember thinking, as a young boy, how this part of the movie was already getting exciting.
Then the movie gets into the real adventure. Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road and encounters three other major characters: the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) without a brain, the Tin Man (Jack Haley) without a heart, and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) without courage. The movie does a great job devoting plenty of time to these characters' introductions. I was delighted by each of their traits, mainly the Scarecrow's movements, the Tin Man's rusty body that needed lubrication, and the Cowardly Lion's humbleness. Once this quartet comes together, I was really looking forward to all the adventures on their journey.
I'm going to stop talking about the plot in order to talk about the music. The Wizard of Oz is also a musical. As a delighted eight-year-old, I loved this aspect of the movie just as much as the story, probably because music is another thing children are easily drawn to. Besides "Over the Rainbow," I enjoyed listening to the songs "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," "We're Off to See the Wizard," "Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead," "If I Only Had a Brain," "If I Only Had a Heart," "If I Were King of the Forest," and "The Merry Old Land of Oz." And while I'm listing songs, let me also list quotes from the movie that I myself remember best: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."; "Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!"; and, most importantly, "There's no place like home."
What can I say? The Wizard of Oz is such a monumental masterpiece that one cannot watch the movie without taking something away from it. More precisely, one cannot see The Wizard of Oz without taking two, three, or even four things away from it. No wonder it stands the test of time. When it aired on television years later, I watched it and literally relived those moments in school at the age of eight. I think it's great that The Wizard of Oz will live on for generations to come. If you haven't seen it, here's your chance. And if you have kids, let them watch it, too. They'll be very delighted, just like I was.
For more information about The Wizard of Oz, visit the Internet Movie Database.