The Wizard of Oz

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Revisit once again this American classic. Dorothy Gale, an unhappy young girl on a dreary Kansas farm, is whisked away by a tornado to the magical world of Oz. Hailed as a liberator by the Munchkins because her house crushed the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy instead realizes that the very land she had formerly spurned has plenty of things to recommend it. The Good Witch of the North sends her to find the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, in hopes that he may be able to send her home. Along the Yellow Brick Road she meets three travelling companions, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

When she arrives in the Emerald City, Dorothy discovers that her troubles are not over. The Wizard assigns her a task -- to destroy the Wicked Witch of the West and come back with her broom. Only then will he send her back to Kansas. Dorothy and her companions go through all manner of perils to accomplish that, only to be rewarded with further stalling from the Wizard. But brave little Toto, Dorothy's terrier, is not overawed, and he strips away the curtain that hides the real Wizard -- a former showman who was accidentally blown to Oz in his balloon. He then gives Dorothy's companions awards that tell them that they had those very things all along but just didn't know it. Finally he arranges for his balloon to be readied and is going to take Dorothy back. This time Toto's intervention is less welcome, and while Dorothy jumps from the balloon's basket to retrieve the dog, the Wizard drifts away. Dorothy fears she will be stranded, but the Good Witch of the South appears to tell her to click her ruby slippers together three times and say "There's no place like home."

Whether you feel that the "only a dream" ending is a cop-out, you will enjoy this great American classic, one of the earliest films to use color, and one which uses the differentiation between black-and-white and color to underscore the difference between the mundane world and Oz.

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Review posted December 16, 1998