The Wizard of Oz (1936) – Review of a Classic

The Wizard of Oz (1936) – Review of a Classic

Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s famous book MGM’s 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, was by no means the first, or the last adaptation, but it has definitely been the most timeless and popular. It was directed mainly by Victor Fleming and starred Judy Garland as Dorothy. Other notable co-stars were Terry the dog, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan and Margaret Hamilton.

The film starts in a black and white world in which Dorothy is upset because Miss Gutch, an unkind neighbour, keeps trying to hurt her dog, Toto. She lives on a farm with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, and attempts to give everybody details on the latest incident with the ghastly woman. Being extremely busy they are unable to really listen to what she has to say, but this is the perfect opportunity for us to meet the other characters.

Miss Gutch gets permission from the sheriff to take Toto away to be destroyed, and Dorothy is left in despair. Toto escapes and when he returns home, in order to protect him, she decides that they have to run away. On their journey they meet another traveller who convinces Dorothy to return home because aunt Em was missing them terribly.

As they are returning a tornado appears and, unable to get into the underground shelter, Dorothy falls and bumps her head. This is what facilitates the fascinating journey into the ‘Land over the Rainbow.’ 

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The first and most striking observation is the fact that the world of Dorothy’s dreams is in beautiful colours, compared to her black and white reality. Her house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East meaning that she has freed the Munchkins from the witch’s overbearing presence. She is immediately hailed as a hero, becoming the centre of attention. This world seems to be a paradise until the Wicked Witch of the West threatens to revenge her sister’s death, and take the beautiful ruby slippers (which incidentally has been turned into the theme of perhaps the best casino slots game of all time) that Dorothy has inherited by killing her.

Dorothy realises that she needs to go home and sets off on the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz, who is sure to be able to provide a solution to her problem. On the way she meets three travelling companions; a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tinman and a cowardly lion. They all believe that the wizard will be able to give them the parts of themselves that are supposedly missing.

The journey to the Wizard is filled with a variety of obstacles that the friends have to get past in order to make their dreams come true. Their fierce protection of each other on the way and the bond they form is heart-warming and motivating. The cast’s singing and acting is superb and this movie has the power to pull the viewer in. After a while, singing along becomes inevitable.

The movie is a one-of-a-kind film in which Judy Garland captures Dorothy’s innocence perfectly, yet beneath this she has an impressive level of determination and loyalty. There are little surprises, witty moments and unexpected characters that means that it can be watched an unlimited number of times, and there will still be something new in every instant.

Definitely a timeless classic that appeals to audiences of any age, this film has the power to captivate and delight everybody. The popularity and originality of this movie means that it will continue to appeal to the public for years to come.

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