As college is approaching rapidly, there is one thing that I will soon realize: there is no place like home! Anytime I think of my hometown, sweet memories come to mind, and most of them are related to The Wizard of Oz. My senior homecoming week was Wizard of Oz themed with emerald city day, rainbow day, and the cherry on top was our senior yellow brick road float in the homecoming parade. Also, one of my most poignant memories will forever be my dance studios production of The Wizard of Oz and all of our work and preparation to bring the magic of this timeless classic to life. Both of these memories do not even compare to flashbacks of my childhood, watching this movie over and over again, wearing ruby red slippers to the grocery store, and begging my mom to read the novel this was based on to me every night. There is definitely a reason why The Wizard of Oz has been selected time and time again and is the most watched film in history. Its magic and themes have enchanted audiences for decades, it melts troubles like lemondrops, and will continue to be a family favorite for as long as the yellow brick road winds on.
The Wizard of Oz, based on the famous novel by L. Frank Baum, was released on August 25, 1939. It was directed by Mervyn Leroy, Victor Fleming, King Vidor, George Cukor, and Norman Taurog, and cost over $2,777,000. This was an astronomical price and was spent over the course of a year to make this movie. L. Frank Baum was the mastermind behind this timeless plot and allegedly named the book Oz after glaring at a file cabinet labeled A-N and O-Z. He named Dorothy after his niece who passed away shortly before he began writing the novel. Several historians have hypothesized that this book was meant to serve as a social commentary comparing the scarecrow to farmers, the yellow-brick road to gold, the tin man to industrial workers, and the wizard to the president. Those who suggest this theory believe it is highlighting the corruption of the government in the 19th century, although Baum never officially confirmed this to be true. Having been filmed in the early 1900s, the production materials were rudimentary. Jell-o was used to dye the multi-color horses, asbestos was the main ingredient in the snow in the poppy-fields, and toxic chemicals were used in the facial and body makeup worn by the actors. Due older technology, the set was constantly over 100 degrees, because high-beam lights were needed to brighten scenes. The props, set, and those working behind the scenes were essential in bringing this movie to life.
While the production and behind the scenes of the Wizard of Oz contributed to the fantasy of this movie, the characters truly won the hearts of audiences everywhere. The role of Dorothy was initially supposed to be played by Shirley Temple, but Judy Garlands vocals impressed the casting staff, so she was chosen. The directors wanted to emphasize her youth and innocence. Margaret Hamilton, an elementary school teacher and fan of Baums literature, was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West when she was 36. Several layers of makeup were needed to give her an old, ragged look. Billie Burke, on the other hand, was 54 when she was cast as Glinda the Good Witch. Ray Bolger played the scarecrow and Jack Haley played the tin man. This film has one of the most superb casts in history.
The plot of this film is majestic, as well as, empowering and insightful. The themes of girl power, being characterized by goodness rather than smarts or heart, and achieving anything dreams with passion and determination can influence audiences of all ages. There were very few movies with a female hero during this time, and Dorothy is a perfect example that any girl can be a heroine, even if they come from a small town in Kansas. In my opinion, the characters achieved these qualities, while also entertaining audiences with musical ingenuity and charm. There is no other movie, that comes to mind, that is more enthralling and lively, while also achieving didactic purposes. This movie has been and will forever be loved by those who want to spend 90 minutes returning to their childhood.
Overall, this movie has little to no flaws and is sincerely enjoyable. The directors, crew, and cast did an excellent job depicting a novel that made a crater in history, and bring viewers somewhere over the rainbow. The Wizard of Oz will forever be my favorite movie because of its youthfulness and positivity, but the multi-color horses, rainbow, and munchkins do not hurt either.