1939 has bestowed the world some of the most iconic films of all time, from Gone with the Wind, Ninotchka, The Women, to Stagecoach. Yet, none can probably match The Wizard of Oz as the most influential flick ever made. The classic fantasy flick became one of the biggest films of its time, bringing in something incredibly magical and new, vastly influencing the film industry and widening audiences’ perspectives. In this article, discover more about how The Wizard of Oz shaped cinema’s future and its enduring effects that still looms today.
Bringing the Audience to the World of Fantasy
During the 1930s, fantasy films weren’t as popular, seemingly shunned if compared to the reception and revenue these films are reaping today. Thankfully, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first fully animated feature film, was released in 1937, enchanting the movie audience with a magical element. The flick’s success was believed to have pushed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. to create The Wizard of OZ in 1938, banking on fantasy storytelling and characters.
In its release in 1939, The Wizard of Oz proved to be magical, introducing the viewers to the whimsical land of Oz. Brimming with new fantasy elements, lovable characters, heartwarming events, memorable songs, and incredible performances, children and kids at heart were showered with mixed yet rewarding emotions as they watched the film.
But perhaps, the magic of The Wizard of Oz vastly comes from the values its story has bestowed the audience. The film tackled childhood issues, from dreaming to life to be bigger than what is, longing for adventures, to wishing to act like adults. However, it also encompassed adulthood concerns, such as deception, search for value, validation, and other harsh realities. Intertwining messages and symbolism for the young and the grown-ups, The Wizard of Oz presented life lessons in an amazing allegorical way. No surprise, it has been the inspiration of future movies, and why its magic still remains.
Another way The Wizard of Oz revolutionized cinema is by showing imperfect but outstanding efficiency. You might be surprised that four directors supervised the highly-acclaimed film, from Richard Thorpe to the brief stint of George Cukor, Victor Fleming, and the final few days under King Vidor.
In a film, you need a director to control the movie’s dramatic and artistic, visualize the script, and guide and unify the entire crew to fulfill that vision. In most films, having four directors would be a mess, but the inconsistencies may have even worked for The Wizard of Oz.
All the directors had valuable inputs and enhanced the magic of the movie. Vidor was at the helm when the iconic “Over the Rainbow” scene was shot. On the other hand, Judy Garland’s appearance was Cukor’s brainchild. Meanwhile, Victoria Fleming was the primary director who made most of the other big decisions. Not only was there a shamble in the directors, as there were 15 writers at a minimum who developed the script, while different producers sought final credits, too.
Considering all the production costs, the time and efforts it took for wardrobe, the sets, makeup, and thousands of crew, one might probably don’t want to be part of the making of the film. However, we just have to appreciate how its studio system efficiently worked and how it was able to produce the monumental movie The Wizard of Oz.
Taking Technicolor to a New Level
Contrary to what most people know, The Wizard of Oz wasn’t the first movie to shift from black and white. However, it shaped cinema by showing how to utilize hues to add fantasy effectively. This is evident in one of the film’s most memorable parts: when Dorothy moves from her house and walks into the magical land of Oz. Coming from a monochromatic scene transitioning to a colorful, lively world seemingly filled with happiness, the dramatic effect was realized, and the audience genuinely felt they were in a new dimension.
This was achieved by using Hollywood’s renowned color process – the Technicolor. The result was incredibly vivid colors, though it might seem standard, were a massive innovation at that time. Moreover, The Wizard of Oz maximized the use of vibrant shades and palettes to take Technicolor’s effect to a new level, rather than merely employing it in the film.
Combining all the incredible costumes, elegant makeup, well-arranged sets to the Technicolor process, The Wizard of Oz was undoubtedly breathtaking. Thus, setting a standard for how colors and production design were used and shaped the movies that followed the classic and timeless The Wizard of Oz.