75 years on the Yellow Brick Road

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Jillian Schroeder, Contributing Writer

 

It was 75 years ago that the little girl with the snub nose left her home in Kansas and won a place in the heart of every American. She wore a blue gingham dress, and her name was Dorothy Gale.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” the film was recently adapted to 3-D, where it is currently playing in movie theaters. Find the time to go. I promise you, it’s worth it.

It’s strange in the age of the hardened heroes Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable to find a young, innocent Kansas girl as the great representative of the American spirit. But the focus of “The Wizard of Oz” is the child, or, as its dedication claims, the “Young in Heart.”

Judy Garland performed superbly as Dorothy 75 years ago; now the film is available in 3-D. -Photo courtesy of Energy Burrito
Judy Garland performed superbly as Dorothy 75 years ago; now the film is available in 3-D.
-Photo courtesy of Energy Burrito

Spurred on by the massive and surprising success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” in 1937, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer decided to make his own film based on a children’s classic. Two years and three directors later, the result was “The Wizard of Oz.”

I’m not normally a fan of 3-D technology, but everything in the new 3-D release pops beautifully. It’s like watching the film for the first time, taking a fresh step into that land somewhere over the rainbow.

Most notable, of course, is the metamorphosis of Dorothy’s world from a Kansas-grey cocoon into the kaleidoscopic butterfly blues, yellows and greens of Oz. The scene is, and always has been, one of the most transformative and breathtaking moments in cinema.

But even more significant are the delightful expressions that illuminate Judy Garland’s face. I didn’t realize just how much her childlike faith and imagination carry the film. We can believe in a green Wicked Witch – or in magic sparkly slippers, for that matter – only because Dorothy herself does.

More than a classic, “The Wizard of Oz” is the definitive American fairytale. The lost Kansas girl, surrounded by the discontent of Depression- struck farmers, faces the brave new world with a chipper and wholesome faith.

We have the resourceful Scarlett O’Hara and the cosmopolitan Holly Golightly, but it is Dorothy’s hope and determination we see painted across America’s cultural landscape.

“The Wizard of Oz,” particularly in its new, 3-D reincarnation, is simply fresh. The film’s youthful imagination twines along the pattern of its ageless hope – a pattern paved in the brightest yellow brick.

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