This is a week where the movie universe is all about going back to Oz, but it also makes sense that in order to know where we are going that we have to take a look at where we came from. Out on DVD today is The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond; a documentary that gives us the story behind one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time.
Since its publication in 1900, Frank L Baum’s classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has delighted and entertained countless generations. The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond takes a look at the phenomenon that is The Wizard of Oz through clips and interviews with the likes of Tommy Tune, Mickey Rooney and even some of the original munchkins. This is the complete history of The Wizard of Oz, highlighting some of the earliest stage and screen adaptations, such as the 1925 silent version and the even earlier The Scarecrow of Oz, all the way to the quintessential 1939 film and the successful stage play. This is a complete history of one of the most popular and longest running entertainment franchises of all time.
Originally produced a few years ago, this little documentary puts together a nice story about the legacy that these books and films have left on modern popular culture. It delivers the information it wants quickly and efficiently and is interesting even for the casual fan. In many ways it feels like a Coles notes or abridged version of the entire story. It’s not flashy, but it does what it was supposed to do. Unfortunately, you can never quite shake the feeling that it could have gone so much deeper had there been the money or the will to do so and make an extensive documentary about the origins of these stories.
While the documentary barely scratches the surface as little more than a puff piece, the DVD also has the original silent film version of The Wizard of Oz, starring Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy fame) as the Tin Man. It’s really a fun watch for any silent film fans and the very least it’s worth picking this DVD up for more than it is for the documentary.
Ultimately, The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond is an effective but light documentary about the history of these classic books and movies that you wish could have gone deeper than its 51 minute running time. It’s a purchase or rental that is for fans only, but the silent version of The Wizard of Oz on this disc at least makes sure that it isn’t a wasted trip to the video store.
Directed by: Troy Szebin