Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Wizard of Oz ★★★★

    There are some films that stand the test of time, simply because their imagination transcends it. The young at heart dedication that boldly dominates the opening of "The Wizard of Oz," is a genuine testament for that notion. Sure, you may find solace within the sublime, and rather aesthetically blissful, environment of Oz, even without the steady requirement of that faculty of the mind; however, it is just as likely that it will pass you by, much like adolescence fades into adulthood, without a quiver of warning.

    And that is what makes "The Wizard of Oz" so puissant. The artistic semblance of truth, the mainspring of any fantasy picture, never wavers in its aim to stifle the constraints of reality and indulge in the fabrications of creative power. A color palette of bright reds, seemingly fluorescent yellows, and rich greens, all convey the same message, and that is one of exaltation. Poppy fields of vibrant scarlet, the splendid ambiance of Emerald City and the Munchkin village, as well as the creation of such beasts, from talking apple trees to flying monkey henchmen, all give rise to the conviction that production design should never be undervalued.

    Of course, however, the euphoric feeling evoked by such designs would lose all validity, if not for the personas to match, and what a wonderful blend of disposition it is. A tin man whose only desire is to love, a scarecrow who pines for intellectual thought, and a lion whose fear of almost anything supersedes his ambition to become an illustrious display of courage.

    The character irony that fuels these individuals are quite amusing, yet it also reminded me of a Plato dialogue, in which the virtues in the discussion are actually possessed by Socrates, the central initiator of the analysis. It is clear that our beloved characters have the attributes they fancy, and that is what makes them so pleasurable and inspiring to watch.

    All of which brings us to Dorothy, a young girl whose position in the world, both temporally and geographically, inflames her aspiration to see lands of beauty and liveliness. A thought that is best illustrated by her iconic singing of "Over the Rainbow," and something, that in today's existence, would seem impractical, considering all of the technological devices that enshroud our youth.

    We can ascertain that Dorothy is naive, imaginative, and "young" at heart, all of which are reflected by the setting of Oz. Above all, it would seem that she is the epitome of guiltlessness, so imposed by the symbolism of the ruby slippers, whose presence lends significance to the structure of the film as a whole.

    The role of Dorothy, although simplistic in technique, cannot be understated. Judy Garland, a true symbol of early Hollywood glamor, succeeds in every aspect of her performance. With eyes as big as grapefruits and a heart of gold, Garland warms our heart with every note in which she sings, and every spoken line that would warrant empathy. Without her exuberance, the picture would be as dreary and unadorned as the bland imagery of Kansas, in which we are direly intending to escape.

    Although the cinematic composition is relatively adequate, there are some scenes that could have been enhanced by a subtle change in camera movement and positioning. If there was ever a shot that would justify the use of a panoramic, three hundred and sixty-degree rotation, it would be once that wearisome door is opened into a world of splendor. Instead, we are left with a sideline, and quite unflattering, ninety-degree panning, which could never capture the wonderment of the experience.

    Furthermore, a similar miscalculation can be attributed to the moment in which our lovable cast of characters stroll down the unnerving hall that leads to the societally proclaimed omniscient wizard. Our emotional distance would seem detached, which is unfortunate, considering the suspense that surrounds the circumstance at hand. A simple utilization of the indirect-subjective viewpoint would have succeeded immensely here, in limiting the emotional objectivity.

    It is certainly true that these criticisms would seem negligible, in a sense, but it is exceedingly important to compose each scene as if it were a stand-alone masterpiece. Needless to say, this would not seem relevant in today's film industry, but for the golden age of cinema, it is quite pertinent. In fact, there is a scene in which the objective point of view, along with the in-depth movement of Dorothy and friends, becomes most vindicated, and that is the final stretch to the Emerald City. A quintessential shot that captures the vitality of our story, and the potential of the motion picture industry at this time.

    "The Wizard of Oz" is a gem of a picture, and ultimately, startling evidence as to how far the film medium could reach. Although it certainly is not the first Technicolor film to be made (a subject that will produce several disparate "firsts"), it is undoubtedly the most splendid. The cinematic concern, which may have been fulfilled unintentionally, is arguably that of texture. An indescribable orgy of the senses. To be able to enjoy this experience after so many years, is truly a blessing. It is a bold reminder of how far we have come, in regard to the art of cinema, and how much we have lost. If only we could return to simpler times.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I'm one of those rare breads that is sort obvious since I'm just taking in the "feeling" of the picture. Yes, I seen it an number of times, but would have no basis to debate your interesting points. I sort have to see or read something several times and then it's like I become an expert. But, I just had a couple of "run-ins" with Wizard of Oz. A day or so ago was I was using a simile and said it like the like the Casablanca of such and such and I knew that I was okay on that score, but I knew I missing a movie. And seeing your post I was like oh yeah, duff. And then reading this I remembered a good riff I had got on when e-mailing my Sister. She was running a marathon (the Boston Marathon the year prior of the bombing) and she was running with the Witch and the Tin Man. It was sort of raining...and I probably missed her (I was standing on that same side and same area of the explosion) and thought to myself WAIT the Tin Man and the Witch have H20 in common! And I made this whole elaborate story (my sister and I had not communicated in a while and it was just fun. We both understood the magic of Oz) and it was about the tin man after being granted a heart he realized he missed the witch and he cried and cried and his waxy tears were enough to bring regenerate the witch, (If this bears any resemblence to Wicked it's a coincidence) but she was sort of a midget even with all the tears and without powers too, but tin man hid her inside his truck...etc. There was a bit more - like the scarecrow always lighting himself on fire since he was big into poppies. Good hoots. And no, there will never been anything close to the Magic that WAS the Wizard of Oz. By the way, when the booming happened and I'd heard about these previous murders of 3 Jewish adults I thought that I it was the scene with Toto ripping open the curtain to reveal the truth. Only, the movie kept going on as if nothing had happened. And I told my mom that I think my bull had just fallen down the rabbit hole, I'm nnt much of the investor type but when investors see a conspiracy they get queezy real quick....and yes, it went down. Last, last thing: I lived in Harvard area and they had old movies at the Harvard Sq Cinema and I tell ya Marx Broths had the whole afternoon croud rolling in the isles. I kept my dignity a little by staying in my chair, but I was doubled over in pain with tears rolling down my eyes. It was awesome. "Night at the Opera"'s that movie with the scene of Grocho saying he wouldn't want to join a club that would take him as a member. I love to ramble on. Paul