Family Movie Night: The Wizard of Oz

We watched The Wizard of Oz tonight for family Movie Night. So many times we go through a struggle of choosing what to watch. One of the kids mentioned The Wizard of Oz and it was a quick decision.

From the very beginning of the movie the kids were tight lipped, with eyes glued to the TV. They quickly ate dinner and hopped back on the couch. Even though there was a slight fit thrown just before picking out the movie after I told the kids that it was family movie night and not family Wii night, and we are all feeling sick, the kids got along the entire movie. Any issues that came up were quickly resolved  and everyone was so excited to watch the movie.

We haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz in a while, at least not for Family Movie Night where we all sat down and got to enjoy it. For some reason tonight, I kept thinking about how much I used to love this movie when I was a kid.

Except that when I was a kid we used to have to wait for it to come on TV once a year. It was a tradition to watch it. I still don’t know why it was always on in the Spring. I could never figure out why it wasn’t on around Halloween. It was always a big deal to watch it when it came on, and I always remember being so excited to watch it.

That was before DVD’s and VCR’s and those big giant discs that you had to flip over half way through the movie.

That was way back when we used to have to wait for the TV station to air it and then watch the commercials during the movie.

I still remember loving the scene where it goes from black and white to color. Little Nut Nut who who is 4, let out a “Whoa” tonight when that happened. I always thought it was so cool, but way back then, I used to actually watch TV shows in black and white everyday.

My kids saw an episode of The Andy Griffith Show recently and had all sorts of questions as to why it was in black and white. “Wow!” they said, “that was a long time ago”

The black and white (which now I look at and see more of a sepia tone) to color scene tonight had a magical impact on the kids and they all stared slack jawed at the screen. They were hooked.

As we were watching the movie, I noticed the painted back dropped that I have known were there for years and years now, but to night I noticed them more. The set was so complex and so simple at the same time. There was no traveling all over the world to get the perfect scene in the perfect setting. They painted the rolling landscape and filmed it all indoors.

There was very little animation, except for the tornado scene and the scenes involving Glenda the Good Witch, The Horse of a Different Color and of course Great and Powerful Oz. The special effects were wires holding The Lion’s tail up.

Wing Nut got so excited “I can see the string holding monkey’s wings up!!” He was watching every detail.

The forest scene was so tightly shot, it seems like the whole forest scene was only a few hundred feet long, yet they spent so much time in there. It is nothing like the forest scenes in the new Narnia and Lord of the Rings movies.

The costumes were simple. They all looked like people in Halloween costumes, not some giant CGI lion. The poppies weren’t real and the snow obviously wasn’t either.

Even with all the simple  effects, costumes and basic animation, The Wizard of Oz was a huge hit tonight. The children were enveloped in the magic of the story, even without all of the bells and whistles that dress so many of our favorite movies.

It was every bit as beautiful and exiting of a movie that it was when I was a kid, waiting all year long to watch it.

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