Revisiting Oz: 21st Century children take a 20th Century teacher back over the rainbow


The Wizard of Oz

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Starring: Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton

Last summer, while Aidan and Isabela were volunteering with my LEGO Robotics workshop at Mosaic Learning Centre for Children with Autism, I thought it would be interesting to get their perspective in film reviews. We thought we’d give it a go, and surprisingly enough, the Cinecenta Matinee was The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Here are their reviews:

The Wizard of Oz was a very beautiful movie with lots of colours and objects that made me wonder if there could truly be such an amazing and graceful place. It is an exciting and happy movie that takes people on an adventure through a magical land full of places and characters that are unusual in their own way. In this, the truth is revealed that not everyone is kind and not everyone always tells the truth, [thus] deceiving who they really are.

It is surprising for me to see a teenager who is pure and kind that wants to go home because now it is not usually found [in film], someone who tells the truth most of the time thinking home is the place to be, not wanting to be away without their guardians. In comparison to movies I usually see now, conflict [is] not usually dealt with [through] truth and trying hard being kind anymore, it is [addressed through] violence and hatred, so [The Wizard of Oz] makes me think of a more peaceful world.

I was glad about the fact that the language and humour [were] appropriate and rich. The characters did not really show their past or deep down emotions, but I could still connect to how they really wanted to get [freedom] but were having difficulty because of a person who blocked their way. The special effects were really amazing I thought, since I could not see exactly how they did it and it was different from now where there are lots of explosions. For this being one of the first full fantasy films in colour, the sound was clear, the colours [were] really vibrant and the costumes and makeup were done in such a way that I had a hard time telling it was not real.

If I had been living when the film first came out I think I would be very excited about such an amazing fantasy film; seeing the movie today was as enjoyable. Even in comparison to movies made in the 21st century and with no computer graphic images (CGI), it was great.

Isabela Hlavon is in Grade 8 at Arbutus Middle School.

The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie to many people around the world, but can it still make an impact on audiences today? Does it still mean anything? Undeniably yes. The Wizard of Oz is and will always be a classic film, but for people who have never seen the entire movie before, such as myself, it’s enjoyable. It was pure, entertainment and meaningful. It’s definitely not a teen movie, but it still rings true with audiences today.

By modern standards, The Wizard of Oz would have flunked in the effects department. There aren’t any complicated battle scenes and honestly, you don’t need to look very hard to distinguish where the set ends and the backdrop begins. We have been led to believe by blockbuster films that a movie needs all these things. Action scenes are certainly exciting, but in a movie like The Wizard of Oz they are completely unnecessary and would not help move the action along. The real art of The Wizard of Oz lies in the costume department. The lion suit may look cheesy, but imagine how long it would take to put it on!

The story is magical enough to appeal to younger viewers, but still keeps things entertaining for adults in the audience. It differs from family movies in this day and age because it doesn’t need to add in subtle adult jokes to be enjoyable to older individuals. It’s just a really fun show. Its fun theme and zany atmosphere truly make The Wizard of Oz a movie for the whole family.

However, Victor Fleming’s masterpiece isn’t all about dancing scarecrows and cowardly lions. It’s comparable to classical fables in that it has a definite moral and describes a serious topic under many layers of fluff. All three characters that Dorothy meets want something from the wizard. Unbeknownst to them, they have had these traits hidden inside them all along.

The bottom line is that The Wizard of Oz will always strike a chord with any viewer no matter [their] age or the time period [they are] in. It may not be as cinematographic as fantasy movies these days. It can, however, be a lot more fun.

Aidan Guerreiro is in Grade 9 at Mt. Douglas Secondary School.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get from this experiment, but I discovered children still want entertainment that is joyful, honest and heartfelt. Hollywood, please take note. We hope to team up and see Sam Raimi’s upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful. Look for our review.