Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Wizard of Oz - Victor Fleming

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most influential movies in History. The amount of money MGM invested in it was huge for the standards of the time, and its special effects are, even today, textbook examples in some film schools.

This is one of the last movies where the acting techniques and dialogues are more theater-like than "pure" movie-like. Given its gigantic proportions, the main contribution of The Wizard of Oz is, in fact, the idea that cameras, color, make-up and scenery are  more flexible in movies than in theater.

Between 1959 and 1991, The Wizard of Oz was telecast once a year as a special program. This market-based indoctrination probably explains the cult status the movie has among Pink Floyd fans, who are convinced that there is a mystical connection between The Wizard of Oz and The Dark Side of the Moon; the LGTB community, who have a weird crush with Dorothy (Judy Garland), and Steven Tyler, who sampled the movie for a song about drugs and rehab.

Musicals are scarce these days: they are not very expensive to produce, but audiences have lost the sensibility to appreciate the things that make a good musical: make-up, dances, haircuts. Audiences are not entirely to blame: musicals are cumbersome and slow for today's standards.

In any case, from a studio perspective, it is a safer bet to do a multi-million dollar movie about Batman with fights and special effects, which will be surely loved by at least 50% of the potential audiences (i.e., men), than a musical, which is, after all, a niche production.

The Wizard of Oz is either a good first step to recover the sensibility to like musicals, or the decisive movie to assess if one is fit to watch them.

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