NAME: Erin MacAlpine
COURSE: English and Film
MODULE: Histories: Film, 2009.
ASSIGNMENT TITLE: The Musical Genre During the 1930s in America, Pre and Post Production Code
The 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz, directed by Victor Fleming, was adapted from L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It told the story of a young farm girl, Dorothy Gale, who dreamt she and her dog Toto were transported to the magical land of Oz where they encountered a brainless Scarecrow, a heartless Tinman and a cowardly Lion, along with the Wicked Witch of the West and a fraudulent Wizard. At the beginning of the film, Judy Garland, who portrayed Dorothy, sings the iconic song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, a song about wishing for a better place where dreams come true.
‘Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams you dare to dream really do come true. Someday I’ll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.’
It could be argued that the meaning behind these lyrics linked back to the days of the Depression. Dorothy is wishing for a place where ‘troubles melt like lemon drops…’ and where ‘clouds are far behind’ her. The Great Depression was like one metaphorical giant cloud that covered the whole of America and lasted over a decade. However, when Dorothy woke up in Oz, she soon realised that the dream was far better than the reality; the film on the whole is a subtle warning about being careful what you wish for. By the end of the film Dorothy realises that she had never had it as good as when she was in Kansas living a simple farm girl life, and her situation could be an allegory of America’s economy at the time. If America had reverted back to basics, they could then move on and become the land where ‘troubles melt like lemon drops’.