This essay is based on a mass media product from the past. The media product is a film titled The Wizard of Oz (1939). I have researched my media product and I will be critically analysing it in the essay; When wa it made? Where was it made? Why was it made, (what was its function)? Who made it (artists, producers, media companies and institutions)? Who was it made for (who was the commissioner/client/intended audience)? How was it made (what materials, processes and technologies were used in its production and distribution)? How was it received (how did contemporary critics, com+mentators or audiences respond to the product)
Research the historical context in which the media product was produced.
Research how the media product is remembered or regarded today.
describe how it was read when it was produced and examine how those readings are different today.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) is based on a novel by Lyman Frank Baum called The wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). It is a musical that tells the story of a young girl from Kansas who enters a magical fantasy world called Oz, where she meets a group of friends and experiences a variety of exciting adventures. L. Frank Baum was an American author of children’s books, well recognized for writing The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. Before the creation of The Wizard of Oz (1939), earlier series and films and were constructed; The Wizard of Oz (1908), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910), Scarecrow in Oz (1910), and The Land of Oz (1910), The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914), The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914), His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914/15), The Wizard of Oz (1921), The Wizard of Oz (1925).
The Wizard of Oz (1939) was influenced by the success of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was filmed using Technicolor and showed that films adapted from popular children’s stories and fairytale legends could be successful, this inspired (MGM Studios) Metro Goldwyn Mayer to produce its own fictional movie.
The Wizard of Oz was a box office success and a major hit with audience and critics. It was the second biggest grossing film in year 1939, after Gone with the Wind (which was first), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (third), Jesse James (fourth), and Mr Smith Goes to Washington (placed at fifth). The film was MGM’s most expensive production up to that time; but its initial release failed to recoup the studio’s investment and the film did not make a profit. However, subsequent re-releases made up for that as the popularity of the movie increased in intensity. Additionally, the popularity and acceptance of the film also increased after it was on-screen for the first time in year 1956 on the CBS Network. An estimate of 45 Million viewers watched the airing of the first television broadcast and since then The Wizard of Oz has aired on television numerously wining an even larger audience. At present, a number of the film’s famous lines, including and “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” and “There’s no place like home” are familiar to today’s generation.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) was made and filmed in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, California, United States of America. It was released on the 12th of August 1939.
The film was produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM Studios), and directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Victor Fleming and King Vidor. Screenplay was written by Edgar Allan Woolf, Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson. Main characters in the film include; Dorothy (Judy Garland), Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tzeke/Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) and the tin man (Jack Haley). All of the featured actors and actresses that starred in the film had a prosperous and successful career. This is the film that they have become best known for and in some cases the only film they are remembered for.
In year 1989, The Wizard of Oz was selected by the United States of America Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Wizard of Oz was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture but lost to the civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939). It was undoubtedly the most amazingly productive and dynamic year in Hollywood history. The Wizard of Oz won two Academy Awards. One for best musical scoring with Herbert Arlen (having been responsible for the background music) and the other award was for best song with Harold Arlen (music) and Edgar Yipsel Harburg (lyrics) for the song “Over the Rainbow” which became one of Judy Garland’s signature hits. Judy Garland’s profession was taken to the limelight after featuring in The Wizard of Oz. She received an Honorary Academy Award for her “outstanding performance as a screen juvenile.” Judy had just finished the successful hit films Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and Babes in Arms (1939).
The Wizard Of Oz (1939) is amongst early colour films. The film was recorded in black and white and in colour. The black and white scenes in the film were actually filmed on a sepia tone and the colour scenes were filmed using vivid Technicolor, a relatively new film process at the time. The process of using Technicolor to created coloured vivid images, involves the merging of two or more single strips of exposed film tinted with special dyes. Technicolor is the technology behind the classic colour films like Gone With the Wind (1939), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), An American in Paris (1951) etc. In the film, scenes that require different colour sequence had to be created practically. Created shots involved matte paintings for backgrounds and painting items or things to create a different colour sequence e.g. four separate horses were tinted for the horse of a different colour sequence. Furthermore, the cost of making the film was placed above $2, 000,000 (which is approximately and roughly $47,000,000 at present) almost three times the cost of an average film at the time. MGM Studios initially placed the cost of the film at over $500,000 below the cost of the movie. (And they anticipated the cost to be around 1, 300,000 (below the cost of the movies
The Wizard of Oz (1939) was released just as the Second World War commenced (began in 1939 and ended in 1945). At that time, the world had fell into chaos as Germany had taken over Czechoslovakia and invaded Poland. As a result of the actions of Germany, commotion and confusion was around the world. At the same time, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios released a film that embraces kindness, charity, friendship and love. The wizard of Oz was dedicated to the “young, and the young in heart” and is aimed at audiences of all ages all over the world.
In Rotten Tomatoes, The Wizard of Oz has an average rating of 9.2/10. “An absolute masterpiece whose ground breaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old”.
Today, the wizard of Oz is remembered as one of Hollywood timeless movie classics. Its popularity has only continued to grow, inspiring an overabundance of songs and artwork.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) has become a true cinema classic, one that resonates with hope and love every time and today it remains one of the most beloved works of cinema, embraced by audiences of all ages throughout the world