Currently, I’m working on costumes for a production of The Wizard of Oz. The director recently asked adult friends what the show means to them so that she could share that with the cast. Since seeing the question, I keep thinking about what the movie version means to me. On one hand, I’m kind of like The Wizard of Meh, but on the other hand, I see the cultural impact and highly respect the innovate technology used when making the film.
So let’s break it down by starting with the meh. I remember watching the movie as a kid, and I know I watched it a few times because I distinctly remember that we recorded it off the TV. In fact, I remember fast forwarding through the commercials and then having to rewind when going to far! Other than that, my only major memory of watching Oz as a child is that I liked to make believe Glinda was flying around every time I played with bubbles. In contrast to my The Wizard of Oz lack of memories, I have AMAZING memories of Return to Oz!!! When I was around 7, it was one of my favorite movies! We rented it and Willow from Video Vault more than any other customer! I loved the whole thing. Dorothy gone crazy? Made sense to me! Chicken pet? Way cooler than a dog! Plus, Tick Tock was a fantastic companion, and a wicked queen who could change heads was just enough creepy and cool to my little self! I freaking loved that movie!!!!
From an art perspective, I do have mad respect for all of the technical work that made The Wizard of Oz. First of all, the use of technicolor was absolutely brilliant! It was such a thematic impact to go from sepia tones to technicolor! Secondly, Judy Garland was a gem. “Over the Rainbow” was magnificent and her rendition is still top notch (though my favorite version is Matthew Morrison singing it while playing the ukulele)! Victor Fleming should not have slapped her, and I hate that the grueling schedule of this film is allegedly what fueled the fire that would become her drug addiction! Finally, the costumes – though they literally poisoned a couple of people – and sets were brilliant for their time! The ruby slippers (fun fact, in the book they are silver) are iconic! So I definitely have to give the film props from a tech perspective, and I must admit that when I went to The Wizard of Oz museum as a teenager, all the tech stuff on display was cool!
There are two other things that make me feel meh about The Wizard of Oz. To get one of them, you have to understand that my grandparents lived in Kansas, and we went to see them every summer. Anytime we mentioned going to Kansas, someone would inevitably ask, “Oh, are you going to see Dorothy and Toto?” I guess they thought it was cute, but I remember being a kid around 5 years old and getting an attitude with a cashier who in my head was asking a ridiculous question. I distinctly remember telling the cashier that “No, my Grandma Dorothy lives here!” There’s a good chance I also said something about not liking dogs. The second thing that makes me feel meh about the movie is that between 8 and 10, I read the book. I was amazed at all the great differences that were left out of the movie! I loved the wolves and backstory of the Tinman the most! Also, as someone who loved Kansas as a kid, I liked that in the book Dorothy didn’t hate Kansas and farm life. I also loved the other witches! I know you can’t put every detail from a movie into a book, but I would’ve left the wolves!
I’m glad people love The Wizard of Oz. Plus, I completely understand the fandom given the number of things I fangirl about that people don’t get. Even though the movie’s not my favorite I would like to one day see the amusement park in North Carolina. What can I say? I have an interest in abandoned – or in this case mostly abandoned – amusement parks. I will also add that as a kid, I saw a stage version and loved it, but I’ve always enjoyed live theatre. I remember seeing a musical on stage way before I remember watching TV and movies. I can also say that I’m super excited to be working on the costumes, and I can’t wait to see what the cast and crew do to bring Oz alive in a little over a week!
What does Oz mean to you?
The Great Kaysby