Sunday, May 30, 2010

100 years, 100 films 1: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

This wasn't actually a 'fearure film'. It was just a short that ran for thirteen minutes. So yes, I am kicking off my 100 years, 100 films with something that isn't really a film. And while the first feature film in the modern sense was made four years earlier, in 1906 (the Australian The Story of the Kelly Gang), there wasn't an American feature made until 1912, so it seemed appropriate to start things off with where films really were at this point - in the short subject arena. (My next two films are shorts as well, although their both longer than this one - but from 1913, they're all features.)

So there's that out of the way, what did I think of the film? It was pretty lousy. I actually couldn't really tell what was happening a lot of the time - characters just sort of jumped off an on screen randomly, with no rhyme or reason. And the static camera wasn't helping to clarify things any - sometimes you'd have about thirty people on screen, all of them doing something, and you just simply couldn't tell who the hell you were supposed to be looking at. And not in some clever artistic way, no. Just in a lazy, jumbled garbage sort of a way. And what I could understand didn't make a whole lot of sense either - how come Dorothy stumbles upon a living Scarecrow before she ends up in the land of Oz? If she lives in a world in which Scarecrows can come to life, what the hell is so special or 'wonderful' about Oz?

I was then going to have a paragraph that began with the phrase, "but to be fair to the film, it wasn't all bad..." and then follow it up with things I liked about it. But honestly, I couldn't really think of anything. I had so little understanding of what was going on that I don't know what was good and what wasn't. I kind of liked the design of the lion head? The bit where all the workers who were building the hot air balloon stopped working at midday and danced because those were union rules was bizarre in a fun way? It was short?

So if this is where films were in 1910, they had a long way to go before they became good. Or comprehensible.

1 comment:

  1. liked your comments..made me laugh