Tuesday 6 December 2011

Why I'm a friend of Dorothy

Today's post in this, Guest Film Post Week, is written by my friend Dave, who is very nearly old enough to know better (it's his 34th birthday on Thursday, the scientifically-established age at which one should know better). He also writes blogs for The Huffington Post, so getting him to write one for me was quite a coup and living testament to the power of those photographs of him I have.

Dave's post - full title: Why I'm a Friend of Dorothy by David Whittam (aged 33 years and 362 days) - deals with his love of a film which is not necessarily the first choice of adult males in the UK. But after this, who knows? Maybe. Thanks to Dave!

I seriously think that The Wizard of Oz may be the greatest film ever made. I’m not normally one to be effusive with praise about anything, sarcasm and suspicion being my two default settings but this one film melts all my cynicism away within about five minutes.

When I was about five, my Mum and Dad divorced and every weekend I went to stay with my Dad until I was about 14. Mainly to give my poor old Mum a bit of peace I think.

Going to my Dad’s was quite exciting as, well, he had a video player. This was fairly new-fangled technology at the time – you could record stuff off the telly and watch it later and everything.

Nearly every week, I would sit and watch a film or two. On heavy rotation were: Labyrinth, Santa Claus and The Worst Witch. I think this explains a lot about me.

The film I probably watched most in my childhood though is The Wizard of Oz. I know every single line and can sing along (badly) to every single song. I even know all the smooth dance moves the Scarecrow does.

It’s a film that doesn’t age for me, I can still being thrilled the first time I saw the black and white gloominess of Kansas burst in the technicolor gloriousness of Oz. Kansas was just as alien as Oz was to me, I had no idea where it was as a child, and I’m still not entirely convinced it exists.

It’s all such a burst of craziness. Munchkins! Talking Scarecrows and Lions! Wicked Witches! Rubbish Wizards!

It even took me years to realise that the people working on the farm were playing the characters in Oz, I just thought Dorothy was delusional when she said “And you and you and you...and you were there.”

The songs are joyous, memorable and instantly make me feel 10 years old again.

A 16-year-old Judy Garland commands the screen and I have to say, from the first moment I saw her, I loved her. Never mind the fact she was already dead, I didn’t know that. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen — apart from maybe Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth.

The Wizard of Oz is a simple tale really, about how the things you think you are missing are usually already there but its good heart, strong visual style, perfectly cast actors and musical score mean it’s a film I can watch again and again on DVD.

Plus, you know, flying monkeys and shit.

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