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The Wizard Of Oz: Project Documentary Script

Leila Mills


This special/bonus feature, which is to be included in the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, will begin with the soundtrack of Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as the opening credits for this special feature reads on the screen “Behind the Rainbow: Discovering Oz.” “Behind the Rainbow” is the heading for this edition of special features and “Discovering Oz” is the subheading. This discussion begins with the scene where Dorothy opens her Kansas home door only to find herself in Oz and ends with the scene where Dorothy is leaving Munchkin land by the yellow brick road to go and meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The special feature opens up with the classic Wizard of Oz sepia Kansas sky as a template which mimics the opening credits on the film. Instead of reading “The Wizard of Oz” the opening credits will fade in with the text “Behind the Rainbow:” Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” begins with the final chorus of the song, which is somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly, as the first set of text appears. The song continues on as the second set of text which reads “Discovering Oz” fades into place next to the first set of text. The text is the same font as the original opening credits and all together it reads “Behind the Rainbow: Discovering Oz”

The moving sepia clouds that were the subtle background are cued by the sound effect of a tornado. The clouds suddenly start whipping around in the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Judy Garland’s voice is still heard but muffled by the sound of the growing tornado. The song ends with the final lyric “Why, oh why can’t I” as the texts comes alive and pushes itself against the animated rapid moving clouds. Suddenly an animated tornado swipes across the screen picking the letters out of their place. The letters are seen swirling around in the tornado just like Dorothy’s house was until the screen is pulled into the tornado as well. The tornado sound effect is loud and overpowering for about five seconds as the images on screen on a jumble mess. All this confusion is put to an end with a loud thump. The screen will go black (sepia black) at the sound of the thump. The scene where Dorothy opens the door to find Oz will come into view but will only become clear and 100% focused as the sepia world is left behind.


Insert film clip of Dorothy entering Oz and the audience will follow her once more through this journey.

The clip and sound will run as it did in the film with the exception of the short break away that shows Dorothy’s facial expressions to discovering Oz. This part with be left out and go straight to the scene that begins the slow progression through the flowers. As the clip passes over the first close up of the flowers the narration will begin as the clip rolls on. Narrator: As one of the most popular and viewed movies in our culture many people have taken the steps and with great anticipation pulled open the door with Dorothy to discover the bright and colorful world of Oz! The Wizard of Oz was not the very first Technicolor film. The audience had seen their screen lit up with color before but it was the contrast between sepia and color that was new to the viewing eyes. Cut over from the beginning clip to the image of sepia Munchkin land. Start at the center with Dorothy in a close up and slowly pull back until almost 75% of the picture is seen. Begin fading the image into the colorful one so by the time 100% of the picture is seen we can see the full transition from sepia to color. The dialogue from this point is muted but the sound track still plays softly in the background beneath the narrator’s voice.


Narrator: The idea to color the film this way came from the original author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. The image of L. Frank Baum cuts next. Starting from the bottom of the picture the camera does a slow pan up as the narrator speaks. As the book is next mentioned the two images of L. Frank Baum and his book will cross fade with each other. When the image is solely the book the camera can continue to a slow pan down the image which ends and focuses slightly around the expression of the cowardly lion.

Narrator: In the book the Kansas scenes are short yet L. Frank Baum manages to mention the word grey at least nine times in association with the mood, the scenery, and even the people. L. Frank Baum’s way of thinking helped inspire E.Y. Harburg to write a piece of the Academy Award winning original soundtrack “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The image of the cowardly lion dissolves as a clip of E.Y Harburg plays. This is a more detailed description of his inspiration behind choosing the rainbow. After this short clip the camera cuts away to the sepia image of Dorothy in Kansas with Toto as the next line of dialogue is read over the image. The camera thoroughly scans the image in a slow pan from left to right. Narrator: This effect was achieved on film by shooting the Kansas scenes in black and white. The film was then bathed in a brown bath to take away the harshness of the black and white colors.


Narrator: During the scenes where Dorothy is still in Kansas, Judy Garland is dressed in a black and white gingham dress instead of her white and blue one to help the color process along. This dress along with Dorothy’s stunt double, Bobbie Koshay, helped pulled off the illusion of one seamless take when Dorothy first enters Oz.

The image of Judy Garland and Bobbie Koshay will cut in next. As the narrator speaks the two actresses will pop with slight color. Judy’s dress will take on the blue tones that everyone is familiar with while Bobbie Koshay’s dress will remain black and white. Ms. Koshay’s hair will stand out in color which will show up brightly against her dress. This is to be done to accent her


ensemble as well as Judy’s. The video clip of Judy and Bobbie entering Oz will be shown as an example while the narrator talks over the scene. The clip will end once the scene shows the front of the actress to indeed be Judy Garland. Narrator: In this take it is Bobbie Koshay who first opens the door to Oz. She is wearing the black and white gingham dress but with her back to the camera no one knows the difference. As she steps out of frame it is Judy Garland who walks into Oz with the bright Technicolor blue and white dress. The next image swipes up onto screen from the bottom of the screen as the narrator continues on.

Narrator: Technicolor filming for The Wizard of Oz began on October 13, 1938. This new way of filming was highly developed for its time but the process to achieve the right colors was more complicated than it looked. Cut away to the image of Victor Fleming. Slowly zoom into a close up of his face as the narrator speaks.


Narrator: Victor Fleming, the main director of the four that were used, knew that Munchkin land would be the first Technicolor scene in The Wizard of Oz and would set the tone for the rest of the movie. For this reason Munchkin land had to be big, bright, and memorable!

The picture of Victor Fleming dissolves out to the image of Munchkin land as the music for “Ding Dong! The Witch is dead!” begins playing with the background music. This image will remain on screen for a while as the camera zooms in on particular areas. The zoom order should follow as: the little houses in the background, the flowers near the pond’s edge in the foreground, the pond with the lily pad in it, the tall stalks of flowers on the right, and finally Dorothy in the middle. The zoomed shots will cut in one after another in slow succession before zooming out to see the whole image once more. Narrator: All the scenes in The Wizard of Oz were shot “under roof”. This means that all the sets were built within the MGM studio sound stages. Munchkin land alone was 90 feet high. Surprisingly, The Wizard of Oz art director William Horning claimed Munchkin land was easiest. “You had something working for you. Doors are only this high because the houses are for midgets. Windows are only this high. Flower boxes have to be low enough for midgets to water them. Then we put grass roofs on the house and shape them like mushrooms, and that was Munchkin land.”” Special care was taken to the creation of the Munchkin land set. Everything had to be created in a way that contributed to the mood that Victor Fleming was trying to create. “The creation of Munchkin land was intended to echo the logical imagining of any youngster who finds themselves in a world where they tower over the populace. By extension, flowers would grow larger than life, the domed Munchkin huts would resemble mushroom caps, and the sweeping spiral of the yellow brick road would be conceived of the candy swirl of an enormous lollipop tipped on its side.” (Harmetz, 1998)


A cross fade between the previous and current image happens as the joyous Munchkin land music plays on in the background.

Narrator: Another aspect of Munchkin land that can be over looked because they are so beautifully done are the painted backdrops of Oz. These backdrops were the responsibility of George Gibson and he did an amazing job. Cut to the image of Dorothy against the large, painted backdrop. As the narration continues the camera will zoom over the backdrop starting from the bottom right hand corner with the fields. The shot will continue diagonally while zooming out slowly to capture the clouds and the rolling hills. This movement will continue until the whole image is in shot.


Narrator: In landscape shots Gibson and his team would divide the muslin and get started by drawing a horizon line six feet from the floor. From there a grid was made that helped the process of putting everything in its proper place. The backdrops were drawn and painted with temperamental medium of pigment and well-watered glue. It took several weeks to paint one backdrop which would be in a scene for less than five minutes. After the backdrops were completed they were hung and properly lit to match the physical set. The original movie clip will come back on to show case the backdrops that are seen as the camera dolly moves across Munchkin land. The mystical music in this scene will be played again but there will be no dialogue spoken. Narrator: The difficulties of Technicolor affected the backdrops as well. Everything had to be tested on camera before it was finalized. With Technicolor pale blues faded to nothingness, bright blues were startlingly brilliant, and yellows could look green or orange. It took one man a whole week just to pick the proper color for the yellow brick road.

The camera will cut to this image of the yellow brick road and then fade into the actual clip as Dorothy starts taking the first steps down the road. The clip will fade out before the song “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” begins. As the clip fades out the image of the backdrop will again appear. This time the camera will zoom into the base of the yellow brick road and slowly zoom out while panning up. This will show case the yellow brick road as the set and the backdrop. Narrator: After the color was picked Gibson had to make sure his backdrops matched and were shaded correctly. If the backdrop wasn’t just right after being lit up then the whole scene would look like a painted backdrop which was the last thing everyone wanted. The next clip to be played will cut in and starts as Glinda’s magic bubble appears. Narrator: As Dorothy enters the magical Land of Oz the first character she meets must also be memorable to the audience. Billy Burke’s Glinda the Good Witch of the North is beautiful,


glamorous, and kind. Her character breaks the stereotype that all witches are ugly as she resembles more of a fairy. The enormous magical bubble in which Billie Burke appeared and disappeared was an optical effect. The special effects man, A. Arnold (Buddy) Gillespie, took a beautiful seven or eight inch glass ball and move the camera towards the prop. It took two weeks to get the lighting exactly right to illuminate the bulb. Afterwards the film was overlain with the image of Billie Burke so it seemed as if she had traveled in the bubble herself. The clip ends with Billy Burke’s bubble revealing the good witch and then fades into the image below. The sound track that accompanies Billy Burke’s entrance is transitioned into the scene and plays as the action keeps going.

Narrator: Glinda is a combination of characters from L. Frank Baum’s original story as she fulfills the function of sending Dorothy down the yellow brick road instead of the novel’s Queen of Field Mice. She is also referred to as the Good Witch of the North instead of the Good Witch of the South as she is in the book.


The camera will fade in and out between the images of Glinda. The first image will fade in and a slow pan will start from the bottom and work its way up to show the sparkles of the costume. The second image will cut in after the first one is over but will continue with a close up and slow pan down the image. The image will slowly zoom out until the whole image is on screen. Narrator: Billy Burke’s costume, as well as all the others, was created by Gilbert Adrian, MGM’s number one designer. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was Adrian’s favorite book as a child and the chance to costume the whole cast was a dream.

At the first mention of Adrian his portrait will cut on screen and slowly zoom out before the next image of his appears and slowly zooms into his features and his wardrobe. Narrator: His gift for costume design clearly shines through in this film and all the others he worked on. He used the clothing as a way to make the character come to life. To symbolize Glinda’s gracefulness and ability of flight, Adrian infused the gown with a butterfly motif, evident in jeweled decorations and pink tulle “wings” at the shoulders. The image of sheer fairy tale fantasy was completed with Burke’s shimmering, starry headdress that routinely necessitated lighting adjustments to avoid glare. (Scarfone & Stillman, 2004) When Billy Burke starts singing the next six minutes consist of singing, dancing, and rhymed dialogue. The start of the song also introduces the Munchkins to Dorothy and the audience. After the images of Adrian the six minute clip of singing and dancing will roll.


Narrator: There are rumors that the munchkins were a horrid bunch of little people who got drunk every night and were promiscuous but these rumors are greatly exaggerated. All together there were 124 midgets who played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. The majority of them were new to show business and their part in Oz would be their first and last gig. The Munchkins were timid more often than aggressive, shy more often than bold. (Harmetz, 1998)

This image will fade into view as a whole. Then different areas of the shot will be zoomed in on in order to get a close up look at the munchkins. The zoom in shots will consist of the left hand of the screen, the midgets in front of Dorothy and Victor Fleming, the right foreground, and the left and right background. Narrator: MGM had originally hoped for two hundred midgets but Leo Singer, an MGM employee, could barely round up 100. With a 124 midgets the process for costumes, make up, and rehearsal was time consuming. “We set up an assembly line in the basement of Rehearsal Hall 8. We hired office kids to carry trays with noses and cheeks for the Munchkins. They were like copy boys in a newspaper office. They would hand out noses, wigs, beards to whoever needed them. We had taken casts of every one of those midgets. They had to have new noses and cheeks every day. We would get three or four noses ahead and store them in boxes with Munchkin’s name on them. Just in case we ran into trouble.” Jack Young in 1976. Another image of the Munchkins will fade into view and the camera will once again zoom into different areas of the photo to capture the individual midgets in their roles as Munchkins.


Narrator: Another extensive process involving the Munchkins was their costumes. As a group Adrian wanted all the Munchkins to look as if they were one big flower garden. The costumes were all made out of felt and thousands of flowers were placed on everything! Munchkin skirts, gloves, hats, bodices, jackets, and even the tips of the Munchkin toes were decked out with flowers. Adrian’s designs also contributed to the overall feel of the film as he wanted the Munchkins to look as if they were little dolls of a young girl’s fantasy. Through out the commentary on the Munchkins, images of their costumes will fade onto screen. The camera will pan back and forth to get the full scope of design and color as the narrator speaks and the Munchkin soundtrack plays as background music. The Munchkin soundtrack is the full 6 minutes of song after Billy Burke starts singing but only the music will be heard.


Narrator: The costumes were heavy with silk tassels, silver chains, and wide buckles. The huge vests, coats and jewelry were designed to make the Munchkins look even smaller. Each coat, vest, bodice, shoe, even each pair of stockings had to be made within the Wardrobe Department. The munchkins were as colorful as the land they lived in. The mutations and limitations of Technicolor photography were of little concern to Adrian as he began to design the Lilliputian costumes. This mindset eventually led to a heated confrontation between Adrian and color director Henri Jaffa over the feasibility of colors for the Munchkin wear. After all the images are presented the music will be matched up with the clip from the movie. The clip will show the Munchkins in their joyous celebration of the death of the Wicked Witch and then the terrifying entrance of the Wicked Witch of the West. After Glinda’s line “That was her sister the wicked witch of the east. This is the wicked witch of the west she is worse than the other one” the narration will begin again, the clip will stop and images of Margaret Hamilton will flash on screen with the same sound effects of the Wicked Witch’s entrance. This image isn’t terrifying which is within the irony of the sound effect but the pretty picture of Ms. Hamilton soon fades into the ugly picture of the Wicked Witch.


Narrator: The Wicked Witch of the West was played by Margaret Hamilton. She was the second choice to play the villainess after Gale Sondergaard turned down the role. The green complexion, sharp chin and nose along with the dark sleek costume, raspy voice and screeches turned Margaret Hamilton into the terrifying Wicked Witch of the West. The Wicked Witch was only on screen for a mere minute and forty three seconds yet her looming presence is constantly a threat that helps the progression of the story. One of the images the flashes on screen as the narration of the Wicked Witch is told.

Narrator: If there is something positive to say about the Wicked Witch it is the fact that she knows how to make an entrance and an exit. She appears with a crack of thunder in a cloud of blood red smoke and leaves the same way with the exception of a blast of fire covering her trail. These special effects were the product of the imagination of Gillespie, the special effects


man. No animation was done in this scene. Instead Margaret Hamilton and her stunt double Betty Danko were the ones to authenticate the scene by doing their own stunts. “The top of the pit was covered by a thin piece of aluminum painted to look like the Yellow Brick Road. The aluminum would be jerked away by an invisible wire, and she would spring, rather like a jack-in-the-box, into the scene. Smudge pots and long smoke tubes would produce enough fire and red smoke to keep the audience from being aware of the trickery.” (Harmetz, 1998) The stunt went well many times but in one take as Margaret was backing up to her cue spot to be lowered into the floor the flames went off too quickly. The flame spread fast as crew rushed over to help the on fire actress. Unfortunately, one of the main ingredients in Margaret’s make up was copper. She had to have all of her make up removed before the second degree burns on her face were treated. Ms. Hamilton also suffered from third degree burns on her hands. She was in bed for the next six weeks as she tried to recover from the stunt gone wrong.

This image is to be shown on screen as the accident story is told. The camera will slowly zoom in to focus on Margaret’s hands and face. Narrator: The Wicked Witch has a problem with Dorothy not only because she killed her sister but also because Dorothy possess the magical ruby slippers. In the original novel the ruby slippers were silver but thanks to the creativity and writing of Noel Langley the slippers are changed to ruby. The new color of the magical pumps looks marvelous and camera and contrast beautifully with the bright yellow brick road.


Next on screen will be the clip of Dorothy first gaining the ruby slippers. Once the clip has ended the scene will fade into stills of the ruby slippers. Narrator: Several designs of the ruby slippers were made as the costume designers tried to modernize the slippers that are mentioned in the novel. The final design was a pump with a classy bow. Around six or seven pairs of the slippers were made in Mrs. Cluett’s Beading Department. “The sequins were on very fine chiffon,” remembers Marian Parker, “and the beaders were working frantically with their little needles pushing all those red sequins onto the shoes. The chiffon with the sequins was formed in the shape of a shoe and then sewed onto the cloth shoe.” The shoes contained 2,300 sequins while each bow was comprised of 46 rhinestones, 42 burgle beads, and 3 costume jewels. The shoes’ sequins were a deep burgundy but shimmered a bright red on film.

After the narration on the ruby slippers the pictures will fade out to allow the original movie clip to finish its scene. Glinda has just given Dorothy the advice to follow the yellow brick road. The volume of the scene will be lowered to allow the final bit of commentary to finish up. Narrator: With the advice of Glinda and the protection of the ruby slippers Dorothy begins her magical journey to meet the wizard of Oz. Along the way she picks up three unusual companions who all have their own wishes for the wizard. Together the group encounters the good times as well as the bad as they follow the yellow brick road. The Wizard of Oz opened for national release on August 25, 1939. The classic was born with a rocky start. Adult critics didn’t find the film to be as wonderful as the children of the audience did. Even the crew of The Wizard of Oz had their doubts about the film. As the children grew up they passed the magical Oz experience on to the next generation. The film has survived the ages and is now embedded into the American culture and remains one of the top fantasy movies of all time. The love for


this film will continue to be passed down through the generations as the door from Kansas to Oz is opened again to let a whole new audience experience the colorful, musical, and magical land that Dorothy first found. The narration ends and the clip fades to black as Dorothy gives a final wave to the Munchkins and heads down the yellow brick road. The credits will roll and cite all the sources mentioned in the Project Notebook as the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow� plays once more.

Wizard of Oz Documentary Script  

A behind the scenes look at the Munchkin scene in the classic film The Wizard of Oz.