The Wizard of Oz

This week I had to mark about 50 essays that had been submitted for the Colour: Art and Science module I teach at the University of Leeds. One essay looks rather like another after the first 10 or so. So it was a delight to discover that one student had decided to focus on a movie – The Wizard of Oz – and demonstrate her understanding of colour by analysing this classic movie.

It reminded me of a story my mother told me. When she went to see the Wizard of Oz in the cinema (she would have been about 8 at the time) she had never seen a colour movie before. She was so much looking forward to this new-fangled and exciting technology. It’s hard to imagine how exciting that would have been – if every movie you had ever seen had been in black and white!!

Well, imagine her disappointment when the movie started and the movie was black and white after all. For those who don’t know, the movie starts off in black and white (in the Kansas scenes) and only turns coloured when Dorothy is whisked off by the tornado and dropped off in the land of Oz. It must have been a wonderful moment when the screen just turned full colour!!

3 thoughts on “The Wizard of Oz

  1. Interested to read about a stage version of this movie in Atlanta (USA) where they replicate the exciting black-and-white to colour transition; Dorothy wears two dresses – at the start she wears a black and white dress and then later she wears a coloured one. The theme is also followed through in the set design. Shame I won’t be able to see it. If you live near Atlanta check out

  2. Hi Steve,

    I teach a module called “Colour and design process”(the name borrowed from a module in Leeds Univ., but only the name!), once, I marked an essay about “colour in movies” most of which was a translation of the book ” If its purple, someone’s gonna die”. The book has sections about “The Wizard of Oz” as well.

    1. Hi Hossein

      Thanks for the comment. That module – Colour and the Design Process – still exists I believe. Though it is not me who teaches it (nor ever had been). I would love to hear more about what you teach on your module. And the book “If its purple, someone’s gonna die” sounds fantastic. Is it in English?

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