In 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released the most ambitious and most expensive film they had made up to then, The Wizard of Oz. This adaption of the L. Frank Baum children’s story was successfully adapted into one of the most popular, iconic films of all time. Starring Judy Garland in the role of Dorothy, it had a cast of memorable characters (including a very scary green-faced witch) and used Technicolour which added to its surreal, magical atmosphere.

Not only was it a great fantasy film but a musical too. It included songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ and won two Oscars for its music. It was released in the same year as another Hollywood classic, Gone With the Wind, a film which eventually won the Oscar for best film.

Some critics and sociologists say it was the most influential, culturally significant film ever made in Hollywood: it deals with the themes of progress, friendship, family and, very new for the age, has very strong female protagonists. Critics still try to interpret it as a social comment, a religious allegory or feminist propaganda… But almost 80 years later audiences of all ages love it for its mix of magic, music and fun.

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Illustration by ​Simona Cordero, taken from ​The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by ​L. Frank Baum​, Green Apple – Life Skills (CEFR A1)