The final instalment on this theme for now (unless I can get my hands on a copy of The Wiz). I finish with the most recent seen again, and that is the classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. On a personal note, thank you Bride of Film Nerd for her Wicked review.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton
Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is whisked off in a tornado to the land of Oz, whizzing from sepia to Technicolor, meeting any number of interesting characters, killing witches, but all along just trying to get home.
A review by Film Nerd
I write this review with the caveat that though seeing this film and loving it in my childhood, my other more recent ventures into Oz must have had an effect. I read many reviews before this one praising not only this film but its transfer to Blu-Ray. Fed by Tin Man and Wicked, I revisited this classic, and frankly, the original is NOT the best.
I am not saying it is a bad film, I am not saying it does not deserve its place in film history. Far from it in fact. The sheer transition from sepia to colour still amazes today, the make up effects are actually quite amazing, and the music is infectious. The iconic moments still resonate, perhaps none so much as those first bars of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, Garland’s performance capturing that yearning we all have occasionally to be in a happier place. Amazing really for a girl of only 16 at the time. No one can refuse following the Yellow Brick Road. The Wizard of Oz is a great film in its own right, and its reputation will rightfully only continue to grow.
But for me, Blu-ray helped me notice a lot of unfortunate elements too. Plants are clearly plastic. The image quality is increased, and though the effects were brilliant for their time, the age of them i feel were emphasised by BD clarity. For instance, a house in a tornado would not spin like a top, no matter how fast the twister is blowing. These are all minor points, I know, and I picked on Tin Man from the point of view of visuals too, and as such this can only be considered a minor criticism.
So I now get to my real problem… This version seems to me to lack depth. The updates provided by the more recent adaptations were quite frankly needed. Today, the fact is we demand more from story. A simple of good versus evil is still great for kids, but today’s grown up audiences do ask for more. We ask for moral ambiguity from both heroes and villains for the drama to feel real.
If you haven’t seen Tin Man or Wicked, you may feel this is all the point of view of a self-important blow hard. But if you have seen either, take pause before taking these re-imaginings as an impetus for trying on the Ruby Slippers again. You will still love all the colour in the visuals, but the story just feels too black and white.
3 stars (out of a possible 5)