English 225: Introduction to Film
May 25, 2015
What’s in a Fantasy?
In the text, a film genre is simply a category that a film can be placed. Typically these films will fall into a specific category (i.e. western, horror) and may also include sub-genres. Sub-genres are not to be confused with genres, for example, comedy would be considered a sub-genre as a western can have humor and even a horror film can have humor. Much like in the film choice for this essay, it contains comedy, adventure, and drama. This essay will discuss The Wizard of Oz and the elements that make it a fantasy genre film and specific scenes that really expound on those elements.
The Wizard of Oz tells the story of a young girl named Dorothy. She gets caught in a storm and her home is picked up and thrust into this world known as the Land of Oz. It is here she meets the people of the town known as munchkins. She also meets the Wicked Witch of the West and learns that her home has fallen atop of the witch’s sister. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North gives Dorothy a pair ruby red shoes and the Witch of the West vows to get them back as they belonged to her sister. To get back home to Kansas, Glinda recommends that Dorothy visit the all mighty Wizard of Oz. This sends Dorothy on an adventure as she follows the yellow brick road.
“The fantasy film is, on its face, pure escapism, where characters may live in imaginary settings or experience situations that break the limitations of the real world” (Goodykoontz, Jacobs, 2014). When it comes to fantasy films, a lot of what the audience sees is things that are not of the world, or at least what humans know of the world. Often times the settings will include alternate universes, objects that speak or have personalities, or a mythical creature. A fantasy film suggests escapism of and it’s very popular among children and younger audiences. Children have very active imaginations and fantasy films encourage that imagination while often times revealing a lesson as well, much like in The Wizard of Oz. All of these elements are thoroughly seen in this film. Two that are significant are characters that are in imaginary settings and characters that might not normally exist in an ordinary world.
Earlier it was mentioned that the protagonist (Dorothy) was transported into the Land of Oz via a tornado. This depicts the element of an imaginary setting or alternate universe. What makes this really significant is that the movie starts in black and white when Dorothy is in Kansas and moves to color when she enters Oz. For a movie of this time, it’s clear that color is still new and helps separate the two worlds. At one point in the film, Dorothy states that she doesn’t think she is in Kansa anymore and she is quite right. What also contributes to this setting is the yellow brick road. This road is a significant part of the film as its Dorothy’s navigation to the Wizard. It is on this road that Dorothy meets an abundance of strange characters.
These characters depict the second element that makes this film a fantasy. Aside from the witches and munchkins she meets, Dorothy gets a few friends on her journey. She first meets the Scarecrow that happens to have no brain but can speak and understand