Scrutinising the rainbow: fantastic space in The Wizard of Oz

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Sergeant, Alexander
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Film Studies, University College Cork
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The Wizard of Oz is not only an iconic film but an iconic fantasy film. An unwillingness to describe it as such within film studies points to a long history of the fantasy genre’s critical neglect. Dissecting the intrinsically cinematic apparatus of space, this article will seek to demonstrate how The Wizard of Oz functions as a fantasy film. Specifically, it will scrutinise how the film attempts to elicit a positive and reassuring encounter with a sense of the magical that seems tied to the genre’s unique aesthetic pleasures. As the film demarcates a mimetic sense of reality, Kansas, from another magical space wherein the fantasy elements of the narrative takes place, Oz, its sense of space hesitates between a sense of the real and the unreal in a manner similar to that originally described in Tzvetan Todorov’s The Fantastic. The Wizard of Oz would seem to operate a similarly fantastic sense of space, constructing a relationship between the two realms that oscillates between the virtues of both as it celebrates the values of the homely and the otherworldly, the familiar and the new in order that it might mitigate its potential traumas and showcase its joys.
The Wizard of Oz , Fantasy , Classical Hollywood , Space , Magic , Real , Unreal , Oz , Kansas , Tzvetan Todorov
Sergeant, A. (2011) 'Scrutinising the rainbow: fantastic space in The Wizard of Oz', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 2 (Winter 2011). doi: 10.33178/alpha.2.01
© 2011, the Author(s)