My favorite.

I think all film lovers can agree: naming your favorites can be hard. I’ve often tried to do a top ten list here for you all, but I practically break out in hives before I can even start. However, if you ask me my absolute favorite, I can say without hesitation that it’s The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I suddenly decided it deserved the number one spot. I had watched it on repeat when I was little, and then I went through a short phase where I decided it terrified me and I didn’t want to see it anymore. 

But then I came back to it, until it finally struck me that what I was watching was really incredible. It was like when the Wicked Witch puts her potion for the field of poppies on her giant crystal ball—it’s cloudy at first, but then the picture suddenly comes in clearly and you can see Dorothy and the gang on their way to Emerald City. My re-discovery of Oz was just like that. I noticed more and appreciated it more. (By the way, nothing is more embarrassing than finally realizing at the age of 13 that the farmhands are literally the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow.) The weird thing is that I’ve always answered that Oz is my favorite. I can remember in kindergarten and elementary school when teachers or other kids would ask me my favorite movie, and more often than not I would surprise them with my response. It’s amazing to me that it’s always been my number one, but I didn’t realize how right I was until I got older.

So, why do I love The Wizard of Oz so much? Clearly it is the casting, the music, the direction, the story, the special effects, and the sets. But there is also something about the film that transcends all of its genres and all of its labels. I honestly never thought of it as a musical or a fantasy film until I started reading about movies and saw other people doing that. Oz has always just been Oz to me. All of the genre conventions it stays true to I’ve just taken for granted. Oh, they’re singing? Well, of course, it’s The Wizard of Oz! Dorothy is transported to a magical land? Obviously, that’s what this movie’s all about! I’ve never questioned anything about the film. It just is. It came all packaged like this as one perfect present.

 Plus, look at what an oddity it is. No other film looks or sounds like it. Victor Fleming did a fantastic job directing (although I know he wasn’t the only one who directed, he did do the majority of the work). They didn’t hesitate when it came to anything—just look at the costumes, the sets, and the special effects. For 1939, they were incredible. For 2015, I’m still in awe. In a world where everything is computer-generated, seeing a set that was made entirely by hand is nothing short of amazing. The film just constantly feels fresh and exciting.


As I said before, there's a lot to appreciate here. But I think what I love the most is the cast. No one feels like a supporting character to me. They're all integral to the story--Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Professor Marvel, every Munchkin and every talking tree all add their own special part to the film. While Judy Garland is the most famous out of everyone else, Oz has cemented the names of Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, and Billie Burke. These people were extremely talented, but outside of film buffs, who today would know them? That's no knock on the performers, it's just how these things go. Lahr, Bolger, and Haley were mainly theater stars. Hamilton and Burke pop up in many films, but as character actors. Oz launched them all into iconic status.


However, I will admit that my dear Judy is the biggest reason why I'm drawn to this movie. How could she not be? She does an amazing job, and she was only a teenager. As a little kid, I could identify with Dorothy. I had a dog similar to Toto, I lived in the midwest (still do), and I was excited about what was outside of my hometown. As a 20-year-old, I still see myself as Dorothy. I want to go to Europe and experience things, but honestly, I will always want to come home because there's no place like it. Dorothy's character isn't just about seeking adventure, though. She's trying to figure out what she wants and what life really has to offer her. I have two more years in college--what the hell am I going to do after it's over? I have no clue, and it's terrifying. When Judy sings "Over the Rainbow," I always tear up. When I was little, it was because I could feel the ache Dorothy had for a different life. But now I cry for a few reasons. First off, it's a gorgeous song and Judy kills it. Secondly, it's heartbreaking. I want to leave home, but what will happen if I do? Will life go the way I hope it does? (Only I could take a simple song and make it deeply philosophical...)


I love this picture because it's how I feel every time I watch Oz. I still get goosebumps when Dorothy first sees Oz, I still sing along with every song, I still jump when the tree smacks Dorothy's hand, and I still giggle like crazy every time the Lion talks. I can always count on The Wizard of Oz, and it can always count on me.

With love, 
Michaela

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