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The wizard of Oz - Essay Example

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In the cinematic masterpiece The Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming presents a fairy tale story told within a dream of a young girl from Kansas. The fresh-faced mid-Western familiarity of Dorothy and her family’s farm-based lifestyle is contrasted within her fevered dream by two surreal and alien worlds, one almost quintessentially American in its technology-inspired magical efficiency and the other a dark and foreboding world that has the look and feel of ancient Europe…
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The wizard of Oz
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Download file to see previous pages Particularly, the paper will analyze the scene in which the Wicked Witch, the stories main antagonist, was killed through her own machinations in the famous “I’m melting” scene. The sepia-toned setting of the Kansas prologue in the Wizard of Oz is famously contrasted with the splash of full color that the movie introduced as we enter Dorothy’s dream. The world of the dream is meant, we are supposed to believe, to represent an alternative universe. Yet director Fleming draws from the real world political and economic landscape of the late 1930s in building this supposed alternate world. Particularly, he establishes two worlds – one with a kind of goodness and innocence that, though it has its own brand of hypocrisy and silliness, is presumed superior to the second, a dark and scary world of evil that lurks about the film’s edges in the person of the Wicked Witch and the setting associated with her. As the film progresses we see that even the scenes in which a kind of injustice can be discerned in the sleek modern City of Oz -- through, for example, the Wizard making promises he has no intention of keeping – are carried out in a golden bathing light of modernity and technological wonder. This is strongly contrasted with the Witch’s castle which, with its gothic arches and ancient, minimalist architecture seems to be inspired by old world, specifically German, influences. The suggestion is the American world is preferable to the European even in its failings. In building the mise-en-scene for the two contrasting worlds, Fleming utilized a full range of color and light in the City of Oz scenes, as well as for the march along the beautiful if sometimes difficult travel on the yellow brick road. However, in the scenes that are associated with the witch, -- such as the forest scene and castle scene – the color palette is darkened and limited. The black of the witch’s cloak is contrasted with the blue of Dorothy’s dress and bright red of the coveted shoes in many shots in these settings. The uniforms of the zombie-like soldiers that serve the witch resemble Nazi officers’ uniforms. The green-faced witch herself, in the make-up choices made, suggests a kind of sickness and moral decrepitude, contrasted against Dorothy’s fresh innocence. Nathanson (1991) contrasts the two worlds of the City of Oz and Witch’s Castle in excellent summary form. After, describing Oz as an American “future anticipated in the present” he describes the setting of the witch’s castle as follows: Technology here is primitive. Candles and torches are used instead of electric lights, spears instead of guns, and an hourglass instead of a clock. Surfaces, moreover, are coarse and unpolished. Architecturally, the Castle is a maze of twisting staircases and crooked passages. Here, then the mise-en-scene is alien. It is remote in both time and space. (p. 39) Here the setting of the action is made to resonate with the world of the late 1930s in which the world was moving steadily to war – with the American promise of technology being questioned and challenged (potentially) by the reactionary and agrarian aggressiveness of Hitler’s Nazi Party. While such a comparison is not made explicit in the film, it is almost inescapable when looking back on the film as a piece of cultural history. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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