Six Revelations Provoked by Theater-Screening The Wizard of Oz

Oh you can say there’s nothing to be gained by seeing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen of a real theater, and you can say we knew all these things before, and you can say a big screen at home is big enough for anything we want to see. But with the principle in mind that knowledge of something from a little picture is different from knowledge of that same thing from a big picture, and in the spirit of refreshing the familiar, here are just six thoughts I had while watching, for the first time in a theater, a movie we’ve all seen dozens of times before.

1. You can read the words inside the union bug in the lower-right-hand corner of the screen at the beginning.

2. Chickens. Lots of them. Big ones and little ones. All over the farm. Someone had to direct those chickens.

3. The wizard has fangs. Small ones that seem to be attached to his upper lip, but fangs they are.

4. There are like a million people in this movie. They are all doing things while the stars are talking and singing, and you can see most of them really well–individually–if you turn your head and look.

5. Judy Garland is stunning. The art critic and psychologist Rudolf Arnheim has noted of early movies “how unreal most film faces appear, how unearthly, how beautiful, how they often give the impression of being not so much a natural phenomenon as an artistic creation.” With The Wizard of Oz on the theater screen, Dorothy’s face is an artistic creation that also seems like a perfectly natural reflection. It’s the size of a billboard, but it moves and it positively glows.

6. The cyclone scene is damn scary.