It wasn't the first film based on L. Frank Baum's classic series of books, and it clearly won't be the last by a long shot, but MGM's 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz will likely forever be the favorite adaptation of Dorothy Gale's Oz-dyssey (its dialogue will still be quoted in the year 2154, if Avatar is any fortune teller). If you're a human being you've likely watched Judy Garland and friends skipping down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City at least once or at most a billion times in the last seven decades. So join us in wishing the film a very happy birthday. To celebrate the 71st anniversary of its original release (did you notice the Google tribute?), we've collected some thoughts on and memories of the film from the Cinematical team. Here, first, is my reflection:
As much as I've gone through phases preferring other takes on Baum (The Wiz, Return to Oz, the old silent films), there is no denying the MGM version's hold on my conscious. Whether because it's an historical icon as popularly celebrated as any image of the 20th century, or an essential part of cinema appreciation or just that brilliantly memorable on its own, this is one classic that will always be fondly and necessarily revisited (most recently I saw it with a 3-year-old and was reminded of its captivating powers). Like only a handful of movie since, it is seemingly what motion pictures were invented for.
I can't recall my introduction to The Wizard of Oz, but I've grown up overly analytically fascinated by its cinematic and narrative devices, specifically the transition from black and white to color -- I do remember that I once thought this was the first film to feature color -- and its implication that Dorothy's trip to Oz was all just a dream. It's one of the few movies we all tolerate despite this revelation. Of course, I love the film on more basic levels too, especially for the music and the art direction.
See what our other writers have to say about The Wizard of Oz after the jump and then share a memory of your own in the comments.