Movie Review: Of Oz the Wizard

of oz the wizard

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Just kidding. The review will not be written in alphabetical order, for the sake of anyone who’d care enough to try and decipher it. Plus, it wouldn’t work on the level that Of Oz the Wizard does. Created in 2004 (according to the description) and released on Vimeo at the very end of 2015, this experimental film from Matt Bucy is a bizarre and original art project that manages to be entertaining, funny and even a little poignant. The basic idea: Bucy has re-edited The Wizard of Oz so that every word spoken throughout the film is in alphabetical order. Even the production logo and credits are put in alphabetical order, with the film being produced by Goldwyn Mayer Metro and “by Directed Fleming Victor.”

This review will not end with a star rating or letter grade, because it’s unnecessary. To put it simply, if the idea of somebody putting every word in The Wizard of Oz in alphabetical order strikes you as funny, entertaining or merely fascinating on an artistic level, you should watch it. If the idea seems like it would be ridiculous, boring or a waste of time, you shouldn’t. Either way, you’re correct. There’s no reason for Of Oz the Wizard to work on any level beyond that of a simple college film project, and yet it’s every bit as musical as the Hollywood classic it’s edited together from. There’s a melodic quality that shines through, especially with words repeated often. (This includes typical common words like “the” and “you” as well as ones specific to the film, like “road” and “wicked.”)

Beyond this musical quality, which helps make the film a more lively experience, there’s also an element of humor, mainly brought on by Frank Morgan, the true star. After around 50 repetitions of the word “but,” Morgan interjects with an excited, “buttons!” Occasionally, he’ll interrupt a series of fairly normal words with something like “hobnob” or “whippersnapper.” There’s also the “arf” section, which highlights the iconic performance from Terry as Toto, and the “hhh” section, consisting of cries and moans that sound increasingly sexual as it goes on. Every once in a while, there will even be a succession of words that actually forms a phrase, like “Poppies posing positively.”

Many will probably scoff at the idea of taking Of Oz the Wizard seriously. Others might claim that the entire reason the film was made is to make fun of the kind of pretentious art snobs full of themselves enough to take it seriously. Even if that was Bucy’s intention, however, the amount of work he put into the project begs you to take it seriously anyway. It dawns on you soon into the film that this is something someone had to edit, a process that likely took weeks at the very least. This ensures that, even if one doesn’t enjoy Of Oz the Wizard, they at least have to admire the effort that went into it.

While this effort alone makes it worth watching, it also manages to say plenty, intentionally or not. Bucy has made a movie about language, organization, cinema and more. Like all good avant-garde, Of Oz the Wizard is more than it appears to be, and probably more than it was intended to be too. The Wizard of Oz is a masterful Hollywood musical that fully deserves its reputation as one of the greatest American films ever made. By restructuring it, Bucy has made a completely different kind of film, but a brilliant one all the same.

Matt is 23 years old, and lives in Ypsilanti, MI. He recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a double-major in Journalism and Women’s and Gender Studies. He is a pop culture geek, obsessively consuming music, film, and T.V. Since he was 16, he has wanted to be a cultural critic, and he spends most of his free time listening to music, watching films, researching, and writing. Tumblr: http://memorize-your-lines.tumblr.com/