Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Top Films: The Wizard of Oz

The difficulty in defending the inclusion of The Wizard of Oz among the best films of all time is that it needs no defending. Everyone has seen it. Most everyone likes it. It is a part of every American child’s experience. There is the cool switch from black and white to color. There are all those wonderful songs. The special effects are amazing. But the most memorable thing about this movie has got to be the witch.

This is probably most people’s first experience with horror. It may not be classified as such, but it is a movie with horror elements. The Wicked Witch of the West is genuinely scary, and it is rumored that many of her scenes were trimmed, as they were deemed too scary for young viewers. And yet it is this element of fear that makes the movie so wonderful. There are real stakes to the quest that the four heroes embark on, and when they succeed and kill the witch, there is a real pay-off.

Some people think that Wizard has a great message… not so much. If anything it seems to imply that education and recognition for doing good or defending the country is meaningless. Perhaps a not so harsh take would be to say that it encourages viewers to recognize the gifting they already have. The other big message is just nonsense—“There’s no place like home.” Yeah, if by that you mean there is no place quite so depressing! Who would want to leave Oz to return back to an all-sepia Kansas where they want to take your dog away?

Regardless, you have one of the best family films of all time, one of the best musicals of all time, one of the best fantasy, quest, scary, and on and on. It is hard to believe this film was made nearly seventy years ago. Forget about all the “all time” stuff, for its day and in its context it definitely belongs among the best movies ever.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, can't agree. I have seen the movie all the way through maybe once as a child, and bits and pieces since then. I never liked the movie, never thought it was a wonderful classic. Nope, not for me. :-)


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