The Wizard of Oz (1939)

2008 #60
Victor Fleming | 98 mins | DVD | U / G

The Wizard of OzThe Wizard of Oz is one of those films whose reputation unavoidably precedes it. Considering it’s nearly 70 years old now, that’s a reputation long in the making.

The biggest problem with this is that, coming to it for the first time as an adult, one knows just about everything that’s going to happen. There are still some gaps to fill for the uninitiated — it takes a surprisingly long time to get to Oz, and a surprisingly quick time from there to the Wizard — but it mostly feels oddly disconcerting: it’s such a well-known tale, even to those of us who hadn’t seen it, that having it played out in full, complete with bits one didn’t know about, is strange. That’s not really anything to do with the film, of course, just my personal impression.

My other observations amount to little more than “the second half is surprisingly light on musical numbers” and “the transition from sepia to full colour is still highly effective and glorious to watch” — as the (very interesting) restoration featurette on the DVD details, it literally looks better now than it ever has before. Beyond that, I had the sense that the film would exert a greater sense of wonder over the very young. That’s appropriate enough, but it means that, coming to it a tad later in life, it’s not a film I’m ever likely to really love.

4 out of 5

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