The Wizard of Oz 1933

THE WIZARD OF OZ 1933 directed by Victor Fleming.
Prompt for essay 2: 4-5 pages,
The following topics are just a small sample of possible subjects for an essay; once again, choose one of the films below for the essay (though you are again free to refer to as many other films as you see fit).
Perhaps the most beloved children’s movie of all time (at least of those produced by Hollywood), The Wizard of Oz is a universal film memory, a film other films can freely reference confident that an audience will know the allusion. The main guideline to approaching the film is seeing Oz again in adulthood: not just that one will of course see the film differently when grown up, or understand puns and allusions (as to the growing war in Europe, or the Great Depression) one missed as a child, but that with so many other films in one’s memory the place of The Wizard of Oz among them is more complicated. The characters one may have originally identified with might shift to include others (Auntie Em, and especially the three farmworkers, Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory [who become the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man]); the childishness of Dorothy Gale is more apparent, but even more admirable is her courage. Based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the 1939 Technicolor film version and its musical numbers have become such a cultural touchstone that two Broadway musical adaptations have enjoyed great success: 1974’s The Wiz, with an all-African American cast (with a film version of the musical directed by Sidney Lumet appearing in 1978), and the adolescent retelling Wicked in 2003 (which continues highly successful runs on Broadway and worldwide).
So well known is Oz that the film may exist more as one remembers it from childhood – seeing it again awakens those early memories but also surprises the viewer with what they may have missed the first time (or ‘see’ differently now):
—the sepia-toned b/w – Technicolor – b/w act structure; not just a technical innovation and
device, but one with symbolic value;
—the young female protagonist: a despondent and fragile Dorothy Gale in Kansas vs. the Dorothy
in Oz (especially the film’s use of tableaux with Dorothy at the center);
—the “rule of three” (our three Oz companions to Dorothy: Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man); —peril and safe haven: as the gangster film had its rise-and-fall narrative arc, the children’s
adventure film had its own arc;
—the dream world and the subconscious; —the iconicity of Oz: the film’s elements that have become iconic – ruby slippers, Glinda The
Good Witch of the North, the late Wicked Witch of the East, The Wicked Witch of the West and her troop of flying monkeys, the Emerald City, “there’s no place like home.”

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