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What memories come to mind when you think of The Wizard of Oz?
The movie will always remind me of my younger sister Lauren who, for two consecutive Halloweens, dressed up as Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, respectively. I found the latter costume fitting given what a terror she was at that age. Lauren is much more relaxed now, so when I posed the question to her, she said, "I would make my mother rewind and replay the tape as soon as the credits started rolling. I can’t remember why I was so obsessed with it then, but looking back, it’s definitely one of those movies whose message becomes clearer as you get older—home is where the heart is."
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the film, first released by MGM in August 1939, and everyone has a memory.
Jon Favreau (director, Elf, Iron Man), tells the Los Angeles Times: "So much of the movie seems so random, with the flying monkeys and the Munchkins, but if you chip all that away it's the hero's journey, in this case about a girl becoming a woman and leaving behind the safety and comfort of home. You don't think about that, which is why it's so good."
Joe Dante (director, Gremlins, Twilight Zone: The Movie), also tells the L.A. Times: "Remember, this was considered a commercial disappointment in 1939! Only in ensuing years was it embraced as a classic by my own and later generations, illustrating the maxim that the true worth of a movie is very had to assess at the time it's first released."
While it may seem fitting to ask film buffs about the movie—revered for its exploratory use of Technicolor and for its themes of kindness, charity, friendship and courage as the world fell into World War II—we think the real magic of the movie lies in childhood memories of the classic film, whether they’re good or bad.
"To me, the scene where a young Judy Garland is locked up at the witch’s castle, staring at the sands of the hourglass dripping away, is a high-watermark in 20th-century acting," shares Sheila, a long-time Judy Garland fan. "It’s definitely on the 'Top 10 Scenes of All Time' list in my head. I cannot watch it without feeling a sense of growing panic, and her fear and grief are palpable."
"The Wizard of Oz scared the crap out of me as a child," says Heather, age 35. "To this day I've never watched the entire thing from beginning to end."
Want to follow all of us down the yellow brick road of memory lane? As part of the film's 70th anniversary celebration, on September 23, a high-definition re-mastering will premiere in theaters across the country (for a full list of participating theaters, click here, along with a presentation of the new documentary To Oz! The Making of a Classic, which features home-movie footage and interviews with the film's stars.
Go check it out. The memories will definitely get to you, my pretty. Maybe even your dog, too.
What are your memories of The Wizard of Oz? Chime in below!