For two hours last Tuesday night, I was 6 again. I would tell you to ask my two older sisters about their experience with my obsession over The Wizard of Oz, but it might very well be a time in their lives they are willing to forget. You see, we had this magical device called a VCR (google it HERE if you were born after 1990), and would record all sorts of movies and TV shows off the “Boob Tube” (that is my mom’s sentimental name for the tv set). I like to think of it as an early bootlegging ring, run by three young girls out of their Long Island Living Room.
Once we had our copy, I watched that bitch every day for at least 3 months. I watched it so many times that the tape started to wear out. There was one part of the movie that was particularly worn and that was where Dorothy encounters Scarecrow. I would fast forward and rewind that scene and watch him break dance all over the yellow brick road. Hysterics would ensue each and every time, and I’m pretty sure my sisters thought it was funny, too. Gosh I was adorable!
At some point the tape disappeared. I am positive there was a conspiracy to kidnap and destroy the tape without my knowledge. I knew it (!) and cried every day until I discovered other gems like Aladin, Beauty and the Beast, and old school reruns of Batman (still kinda have a thing for Adam West, even in Family Guy disguise).
Needless to say, I love the Wizard of Oz, so when it came out in select theaters for it’s 75th Anniversary, I was stoked and insisted that my darling Clam take me immediately (as in not yesterday). Now, there are a few things that really made this movie special for me. The first, of course, is that I LOVE this movie and it is my favorite and I have always dreamed of seeing it on a huge (jumboteron-esque) screen with surround sound alongside other fanatics. Secondly, I have never ever seen a movie in 3D (although I was recently told by a reliable source that it is not a true 3D movie and should broaden my horizons with a “real” one). Finally, it was the first time that Captain Clam and I have gone to the movies together. You would think after 2 years we would have had a date like this, but no… he’s a clam and completely misunderstood.
I skipped and sang all the way to 34th street IMAX, like a little kid with a balloon in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. His Claminess was not so thrilled, as he hates musicals and psudo-wizards and all sorts of childish funsies. To console his lemon sucking attitude, I snuck in some Captain Morgan’s airplane size bottles of rum and bought a $4 20 oz soda. Clams like booze, so it worked like a charm. With a little rum in our bellies, we rationalized acting silly at a silly movie while wearing silly glasses.
So the lights go down and the show begins. The previews were short and not in 3D, but when the countdown for the feature film came on, I had a miniature panic attack. It was as if the numbers were actually jumping off the screen. I tried to grab them and eat them (as they looked quite delicious). I really didn’t like the 3D and was totally discombobulated. I am truly and old school gal, I guess.
Open scene with Dorothy trolloping down a dirt road. My eyes adjusted and it was actually okay to watch and I think I may have even cried a little bit out of excitement and nostalgia. I kept taking the glasses off to see what the screen looked like. Madness! It was like I didn’t have my contacts in.
I could see all the other guests bopping their heads and feet and singing along. I was doing it too! It was truly a great feeling to be in that moment with my Clam, Dorothy, a hundred other people, and Captain Morgan. At a certain point I had to go to the bathroom, which was conveniently located downstairs (sarcasm alert). I ran for the first time in a long time. When I was doing my business I heard another lady come tearing ass into the bathroom and all I thought was “She must be seeing the Wizard of Oz!” I returned to my seat just in time for Scarecrow’s fancy dancing. Yay!
The last time I watched the Wizard of Oz I was 30. The last time before that, I was 12. In the two times I have seen this film as an adult, I picked up so many things that I never saw or understood before. I never realized that my favorite character is the Cowardly Lion (of course, he’s a big snuggly cat!) and that Toto is an extremely important character (even though he is a stinky little dog who I want to put in a basket and take on a picnic). Of course I am no expert on cinema, even though I have watched everything on Netflix at least twice. Here is my official amateur breakdown just for you.
I never realized it, but Judy Garland was a damn fine actress! Her emotional response and drop-of-a-hat tear ducts are simply incredible. She pulls together a unique display of a very independent damsel in distress. I am sure the distress part was for the men in the 1940’s audience and the independent half was for the women. Her youthful charm warms up all those already fuzzy songs, and her unconditional devotion to Toto is so sweet that I caught myself a little bit of the diabetes.
Scarecrow is a liar. He was the mastermind for most of the anti-witch plotting, and yet he claims to have no brain. That’s like the skinny girl complaining about how fat she is. The Scarecrow also never gets brains. He gets a degree and automatically thinks he knows everything (sound familiar, college grads?). Then he gets to Rule the Emerald City. What? Sounds like the 2000 Presidential Election to me.
Towards the end of the movie, the Wizard says something extraordinarily meaningful to Tin Man that I never remember hearing (Like metaphorically hearing) before. He says, “As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. ” Tin Man replies “But I still want one.” Cue Tear Drops. Of course Tin Man has a heart, why else would he galavant through OZ with the other stooges to help Dorothy? He just wanted a heart beat and instead he got a watch. Do you know how hard it is to fall asleep when all you hear is time ticking away? I say good luck with all that.
The Cowardly Lion
The Lion is by far my favorite character. He brings a little more comedic gesture to the film and is so adorable when he wipes his teary eyes with his tail. It also dawned on me that the Lion might be gay. Some of his mannerisms are stereotypical, like how he reacts when his hand is slapped by Dorothy, or the manicure and permanent that he receives to go see the wizard. He literally says “I got a permanent for this.” He also professes that he is a “Dandy Lion”. I love it and I love YOU, Lion!
He is timid, shy and lacking courage, but yet always manages to find bravery. Courage is confronting fear, especially when you don’t want to. So, the entire time he thought he was a coward, he had courage, but just needed someone to tell him by giving him a medal. What is this? Little League Baseball?
The Wicked Witch
Always delightfully scary, the re-mastered colors of the wicked witch are magnificent. Her shrill voice and maniacal laugh are so deviously enjoyable. Those long lanky fingers, always looking like they are in agony, come through the screen perfectly in this 3D version. It seems silly to me that she is after these ruby red slippers, but then I remember that they are pretty dope shoes and she is, after all, a woman. The best part of the witch’s role is her demise, as she melts into the ground shouting, “Ohhh – you cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Oh – what a world – what a world!…” (I always thought she was yelling “My world! My world” That sounds better to me, so I am going to pretend that’s what she is saying from now on.) It’s even more rewarding when all of the witch’s minions praise Dorothy for the “happy accident” that both saved Scarecrow and pretty much everyone else in all of Oz and Munchkin Land and the Emerald City. Yeah. No biggie.
Continuously stunning, doesn’t she just make you smile? Glinda is the perfect fairy godmother. She’s a beautiful “witch princess” who has the same pitch in her voice as all of munchkin land. I guess that’s why they like her? Oh, and she’s real pretty.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
When I was 6, I didn’t like him. Not even as a sweet old gypsy on the side of the road. Now, of course, I am just slightly older than 6 and can value all of the lessons that he has to offer. Despite being an ornery old man, he does share valuable insights into life. Plus he travels in a hot air balloon with ” State Fair OMAHA” written on it, which reminds me of one of my favorite Counting Crows songs. Holler.
I never realized what an important character Toto is. I mean, he is the reason that Dorothy gets herself into all sorts of trouble with Miss Gulch and her garden guarding pussy cat. He also keeps her from riding off into the sunset in the hot air balloon with the Wizard, because (shocker) he is chasing a cat (what does he have against cats anyway?). Toto ends up being the best friend Dorothy could ever have. Loyal and loving, he is the one who undermines the Wizard’s attempt at the appearance of grandeur by pulling the curtain back and revealing a small space full of bells and whistles. Burn. Good Dog.
It really was a treat to see my favorite movie ever on such a huge screen in big comfy seat with $4 sodas and Captain Clam being tortured next to me. The 3D effects didn’t do much to enhance the value of the movie, but that’s because the movie can stand on its own. The colors were fantastic and the details were brighter and more, well, detailed. That I can attribute to the size of the screen and the color restoration. There were very few times when the 3D was prominent enough to even notice, which made it neither add nor subtract from the film.
Of course being my first 3D film, I had some eyeball issues later on that evening, which included dryness, redness, and some irritation. But maybe that’s also because the theatre reuses their 3D glasses and I was a little freaked out about that (I kept mine, of course).
Overall the movie is the charming piece of cinema mastery that it always was and always will be. It will teach millions of people warm and fuzzy songs and the lessons in life that are basic and closest to the heart.
Lesson 1: Accept your friends for who they are.
Lesson 2: Always stand by their side.
Lesson 3: What you think you need and what you really need are two very different things.
Lesson 4: You can always find what you really need inside of yourself.
Lesson 5: (Cheeseball Alert) There is no place like home.