archive

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Family Rated G

A head trip of a family film. The Wizard of Oz is frantic, enchanting and spookily surreal, as Dorothy (Judy Garland) finds herself in Oz surrounded by talking scarecrows, flying monkeys and – perhaps most frightening of all – squeaky Munchkins. All of this is envisioned with old-fashioned movie magic, which somehow remained unaffected by the chorus line of directors (Richard Thorpe, George Cukor and King Vidor all had a hand in it, with Victor Fleming getting final credit). Elaborate sets fade into beautifully painted backdrops, while the characters themselves sport delightfully garish costumes. Even the tornado effects hold up, spinning as menacingly as anything in Twister. What ultimately resonates with children and adults alike, I think, is the movie’s attitude toward adventure, plucked from L. Frank Baum’s novel. Wicked witches and wise wizards are all well and good, but it’s even better to get back home.