on 25 August 1939 (USA)
Length: Runtime: 102 min
Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
Taking a look now at how The Wizard of Oz was filmed, paying particular attention to the lighting I noticed that there is high-key lighting in most of the parts of Oz. The viewer can see nearly everything when Dorothy enters Oz and throughout all of the happy parts. There is an intensity, not only with the lighting but also with the coloring, that exacerbates the feeling of happiness. The high-key lighting allows the viewer to easily ascertain which portions of the movie the director wanted to display in full force. This is also the portion of the movie where the camera is pulled back a bit, showing the entirety of Oz in all its splendor! I think it allows for the audience to get a better feel of this fantasy world.
At the beginning of the movie, although it is in black and white, there is still quite a bit of lighting but at this point Dorothy is dealing with a mean neighbor, running away from home, and finding out her Aunt is sick. I think the lighting in this portion does a great job of not covering up but not allowing the audience to see the entire picture like when Dorothy steps into Oz. With the high-key lighting we can easily tell which parts of the movie are the intensely happy ones and to contrast, when the lighting is changed, such as when the wicked witch comes into play or when the characters enter the Emerald City, we can see the the entire attitude of that part of the film has changed. I think this also allows the audience to innately know when something more dramatic or intense is coming up. And of course anytime the Wicked Witch enters the scene the lighting is dramatically reduced, where high-key lighting and three-point lighting have been used to highlight all of the wonderful points of Oz, they are then taken away and a more intense low-key lighting is used to emphasize the Witch and her haggardly appearance. Or as Goodykoontz explains “claustrophobic feel intensified further by the low–key lighting” (2011). This nearly claustrophobic feel also increases the anxiety that is felt by the viewers.
Another essential set for the lighting was the Haunted Forest. Where we would imagine all sorts of creatures lurking to scare our main characters and where you think they would turn back. Here if not anywhere else! The low-key lighting makes the forest even scarier as there are shadows everywhere! I think here the lack of lighting is just as important as all the bright light when Dorothy enters Oz. It again emphasizes the dire situation that the characters are in and how scary their trip is.
The easiest theme to point out here is the good vs. evil but I think the actual story lends itself to an underlying theme of Dorothy, and hopefully the audience, finding a sense of themselves and what they were missing back home. Even when things are looking bad, home is always where the heart is. Also, being that this is fantasy the bright lighting lent a hand in making everything seem that much brighter and more alive than real life. To diminish the lighting would be to diminish Oz. In think fantasy, much like in books, is difficult to translate but the lighting in this film pointed out the fantastical parts of Oz and why Oz was so special.
Goodykoontz, B. & Jacobs, C., (2011), Film: from watching to seeing, Bridgepoint Education, Inc., San Diego, CA.
YouTube. (2014). Movieclips [Video Channel]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD4zl6Y4Xf8
YouTube. (2014). Movieclips [Video Channel]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSmh0wvYJEY