Off to See the Wizard... at the TCMFF
Guest writer Amanda Glenn is thrilled to be off to the TCMFF in a few weeks where she will be seeing The Wizard of Oz for the first time on a big screen in a movie theater. And she couldn’t be more pleased, even if it means seeing flying monkeys larger than ever before.
I’m off to see the wizard… the wonderful WIZARD OF OZ. I have no idea how many times I have seen the movie. It is older than I. The classic was made in that magical year of 1939. I was born in 1942. So, I did not see it in first release on the big screen. I think my first viewing was totally black and white and on a very small screen. Because of this I had no idea what all the to do was about when Dorothy told Toto they weren’t in Kansas any more. But I did know I liked the music, the energy of the Munchkins, and I fell head over my ten or eleven year old heels in love with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. In short, I wanted to be Dorothy.
Over the years I saw The Wizard of Oz from a lot of different angles. The first time I saw it on a color TV I was awed. By the time I was a teen I knew all the words to all the songs and had finally noticed the emotional family story that bookended the fantasy of good and evil witches, dancing little people, trees that threatened, and horses of a different color. Somewhere in the time between Jr. High and High school I saw a special showing. It wasn’t a full out big screen but one of those large pull down things that graced many a school auditorium. The place was packed with teens that sang along, knew every move and became quiet and fearful when the flying monkeys swooped in.
The first time I watched the movie with one of my own children, Meg (then almost seven) I could see that she too found the movie delightful right up to that same point. Then she became extremely frightened and cried, hiding her head against my chest and shaking. She apparently did not take to flying monkeys at all. It was some years later before I could get her to watch The Wizard of Oz again. I had to promise that all would be well and the wicked witch would get what was coming to her in the end. The melting of the wicked witch became her favorite scene.
I am not sure it was meant to be a complex film with many layers of meaning, but seen over time at different ages I have found new perspectives at each viewing. At every viewing it has brought me pleasure, laughter, and inspiration. It gave me the curiosity to know more about the Munchkin village (I actually drew floor plans of cottages). It gave me the desire to dance (I took lessons, enough so that I eventually would teach tap, ballet, point, and Hawaiian). And it gave me the yearning to sing, although I really, really can’t. I came to appreciate the logical philosophy of the Wizard and forgive him in later years the rather dirty trick of sending the four hapless friends out to face down evil – talk about your basic life lessons!
And now, thanks to the TCMFF this April I’m going to see it on a truly big screen and I can hardly wait. Will I feel the tornado? Feel Dorothy’s insecurity? Will I still adore the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion? I know I will smile at the Munchkins. I will almost smell the poppies, wonder at the ethereal good witch, and be amazed at how wicked the right makeup can make an evil witch appear. I suspect I will chill at the clear sweet trill of Judy Garland’s voice and tear up at least slightly at how happy Dorothy is to get home, lessons learned. For me this is a timeless film that will always have lessons to teach every viewer at any and every age. The Wizard of Oz is a film that will always make a present of joy and the value of self and send the viewer out with a song and a smile right after scaring them silly with the knowledge that there are evil battles to be fought and won, even in Oz. I do still view those flying monkeys with ill ease. I think I’ll be watching prepared with popcorn and, perhaps, a bucket of water, just in case.