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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit: Just a note on The Wizard of Oz: Edit Log


Oct 5 2012, 9:25am

Views: 3300
Just a note on The Wizard of Oz

it was, at the time of its release in 1939, both a critical and commercial flop. Too many people had read the books and starred, as children, in theatrical productions of Oz in the 39 yrs before the film came out, for them to welcome this lavish Hollywood production with open arms. (in this aspect, intestingly, the parallels between TWOZ and TH are intersting--75 yrs for a film adaptation and lots of fans starring in shcool productions.) They fretted about the parts of Baum's novel that had been removed, often at the expense of story (for example, the Emerald City sequence was targeted for special ire--instead of a biting political allegory, with such things as the green glasses for Oz's denizens and the Wizard changing appearances for his individual audience with each of the four being altered to become a silly musical seqeunce and a uniform fear-inducing Wizard). In the minds of most adults who saw the film, all its brilliant technical innovations came vastly at the expense of story. Victor Fleming had taken a complex, naunced, Lewis Carroll-like narrative and turned it into a juvenile Hollywood muscial (yes, the adult fans took Oz as seriously as we take Middle-earth.) Yes, the film did get an Oscar nomination for BP (back when it was 10 films) but that was mainly due to the Technical Branch votes, and Judy Garland got a special Oscar, and the Wicked Witch was praised, but the vast majority of rank-and-file critics and adult audience were less than enthused and box office was low.

The film was shelved, and not until the mid-1950's when a new generation discovered it on TV did it finally begin to gain critical respect, and those same children who had loved it in the theater were now the ones writing the critical reviews. the fact that the 1950's were also the dawn of the Golden Age of the Hollywood Musical, with such artists as Rogers and Hammerstein bringing respect to the art form at a time when Red-baiting was hurting Hollywood's artistic quality, didn't hurt either. In this atmosphere, a proper appreciation of Oz's merits as a *stand-alone film*, as opposed to the Hollywood adaptation of a much-loved novel, was much easier and necessary to making the film the classic it remains.

you might be interested to note that such classics as Disney's Snow White and Pinocchio also started out as commerical flops. While critically praised, and given a rapturous Hollywood premierie, the film was pulled from theaters after 2 weeks b/c it was too controversial--it was scaring kids so much that ushers were complaining about having to clean up seats where litle kids had wet their pants from fear (the scene where Snow White runs through the forest from the Huntsman being a particularily difficult scene for kids.) As for Pinoke, even adult audiences found it just too dark and depressing. (Even today, Pinocchio is a masterpiece...it i my favorite of all the Disney films, followed by Fantasia, and BATB.) Like OZ and SW, it had to wait another generation to be fully accepted.

Just a note for adult fans of today's franchises...

(This post was edited by Sunflower on Oct 5 2012, 9:30am)

Edit Log:
Post edited by Sunflower (Valinor) on Oct 5 2012, 9:26am
Post edited by Sunflower (Valinor) on Oct 5 2012, 9:28am
Post edited by Sunflower (Valinor) on Oct 5 2012, 9:29am
Post edited by Sunflower (Valinor) on Oct 5 2012, 9:30am

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