Cinerama: The Wizard of OZ

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

The Wizard of OZ

By Mike Derderian

Every one has a yellow brick road to follow, a road that will eventually lead to one’s desired destination wherever that is. In my case that road is still ahead waiting to be tread. however, due to the fact that I grew up spending half my life watching films I’m in a constant cinematic dream, visualizing that path.

A dream that I choose to direct with my own perspective and believe me with a little sprinkle of imagination dust you’ll have quite a life to lead.

“Follow the yellow brick road,” a loveable quote that I have replaced with my own “ride the yellow big bus” sentence which I merrily utter every time I see the bus that will take me to my wizard of OZ, the place where I find my refuge in writing.

The title found at the top gives away my introduction to the film which would have been like this “I gather by now you have guessed what I’m talking about, yes it is non-other than The Wizard Of OZ, the 1939 production.”

Written by a dreamer for dreamers, Lyman Frank Baum created a novel that inspired a lot of today’s fiction sagas only his creation is strictly for those who remember how it felt like to be a child even after becoming an adult.

Here’s how it begins, an endless sky filled with fluffy clouds under which lies the widening farmlands of Kansas. From the very first moment we are given the impression of entering a dreamland.

This serene shot is cut brief as we see Dorothy and her dog Toto running short of breath on a long road heading to her uncle and aunt’s farm. They are running away from the wicked Miss Almira Gulch, who is trying to capture Toto for biting her cat.

The sepia tone (Brownish color) used in the intro gives it a special unreal flavor, which wouldn’t have been possible, if it was shot in black and white.

This will change after the twister scene where Dorothy is carried away to OZ land, the magical place that was entirely shot in sharp technicolor which made us enter to the colorful world of Baum’s imagination through Victor Fleming’s Direction.

Not only that but thanks to Noel Langley’s script and Herbert Stothurt’s musical adaptation the end result was an innocent childish film that would light up a child’s imagination.

Nevertheless, The themes found in this work my dear reader are anything but childish. Baum’s genius lies in the characters he created, for they all hold within them a piece of man’s ranging psyche.

Who wouldn’t adore Dorothy the Orphan girl, the Scarecrow who has no brains, the cowardly lion and the Tin man who lacks a heart?

Being the only human among her jolly friends Dorothy bears all those elements yet she fails to realize an important thing that I will reveal at the end, so keep on reading for who knows you might stumble on it.

It is a film that provides you with cheerful and funny songs among which is the everlasting “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” Sung by Judy Garland the star child who portrayed Dorothy.

The film also stars Frank Morgan, Roy Bolger, Bert Laher, Jack Haley, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton as the wicked Witch of the West.

After finding herself in OZ and accidentally killing the wicked witch of the East, she meets Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Burke). The witch tells Dorothy that only one who can help her return home is the Wizard of OZ, who is found at the Emerald city.

On her journey following the yellow brick road Dorothy will meet her special friends. First we meet the Scarecrow (Bolger), who answers her wandering on how he can talk if has no brains by saying, “Some people have no brains yet they talk.”

After their brief encounter they find the rusty Tin Man (Haley), whom they help in oiling his joints before he joins them too on their quest to find the wizard who can grant their wishes in having the emotions they miss.

We see the trio striding and singing, “Were off to See the Wizard, the wonderful wizard of OZ,” and this is when the funniest character, the cowardly lion (Laher) walks in with his not so fierce growling.

Of course I almost forgot the Wicked Witch of the West played by Hamilton, who wants to avenge her sister’s death and reclaim the magical ruby slippers taken by Dorothy.

I haven’t read the book yet, however, one day hopefully I will because Baum’s characters symbolize the human individuals that are found in reality, I mean we all have encountered sadly to say people who lack hearts, courage and most of all a home.

Even though it is a film with primitive obvious-to-the-eye visual effects, it gives a person the chance to see an imaginary world created two centuries ago by a dreamer.

To end this I’ll leave you with Dorothy’s words which you’ll understand once you see the film, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any further than my backyard because if it isn’t there then I never really have lost it in the beginning.”

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