Watch Oz

"Take a trip down the highway with Dorothy"
  • R
  • 1976
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 5.7  (207)

Oz is a 1976 Australian musical film that serves as a modern-day adaptation and a rock-n-roll reimagining of L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The movie infuses the timeless tale of Dorothy's fantastical journey with a contemporary twist, showcasing a blend of adventurous storytelling, catchy music, and the vibrant spirit of the 1970s.

Directed by Chris Löfvén, Oz follows the journey of a young, lively protagonist named Dorothy, played with an infectious charm by Joy Dunstan. She's a modern Australian girl with dreams that reach beyond the mundane life of her rural home. Similar to her literary predecessor, Dorothy yearns for a place where her desires and aspirations can take flight—somewhere over the rainbow, in a sense. Her character is a relatable figure—feisty, independent, and yearning to break free from the shackles of her current life, reflecting the burgeoning feminist movement of the era.

Oz kicks off when Dorothy sets out on the road to pursue her dreams, but an unexpected tornado, emblematic of the chaos and unpredictability of life, sweeps her away. In this twist of fate, Dorothy's mundane beige caravan is spun far from the monochromatic hues of her country town and crash-lands in a dazzling, technicolor world, a place that seems to offer the excitement and possibilities she has longed for.

Upon her tumultuous arrival in this strange and lively new land, Dorothy is greeted by a collection of quirky characters, each bringing a unique flavor to the tale. The first being Graham Matters' character, a rocker who is the embodiment of the Scarecrow. With the witty banter and laid-back charm of a classic musician, he joins Dorothy on her journey, hoping to discover his own direction and purpose.

The second character she encounters is a Tinman played by Bruce Spence. Rather than the rusted, heartless figure we're familiar with, this Tinman is a reincarnation for the '70s—slick, silver, and looking for love. With his imposing height and gaunt appearance, Spence creates a memorable and haunting figure, a man adrift in a world where he fears he may never find the connection he seeks.

Throughout her journey in this fantastical land, Dorothy also comes across a cowardly biker, a stand-in for the classic Cowardly Lion, who despite his roaring exterior, hides a timid soul yearning for courage.

The story unfolds with a familiar objective—an enigmatic and supposedly almighty wizard who holds the power to grant Dorothy's deepest wish and potentially satisfy the desires of her newfound companions. The vibrant city becomes the end goal, where the wizard resides and where they believe their dreams will finally be realized.

Just as in the original narrative, the path Dorothy and her companions take is fraught with obstacles. A malevolent figure mirrors Baum's Wicked Witch, with her own unique desires and designs that pose a constant threat to Dorothy's quest for self-discovery and freedom.

The power of music propels the narrative forward in Oz, with a rock soundtrack that is both a product of its time and an enduring aspect of the film's distinct identity. The songs, performed by the cast and additional musicians, are infused with the rebellious energy of youth culture in the 1970s—a time when rock'n'roll was not just a genre of music but a way of life and a mode of expression.

Oz coalesces a fantastical setting with the gritty real-life issues facing young people during this transitional period in Australian history—contrasting the dream of escapism with the reality of the world they live in. In doing so, it also becomes a vivid time capsule of Australian culture during the mid-70s, capturing the essence of a period characterized by change, exploration, and self-discovery.

The aesthetic of the film follows suit with its wild and imaginative premise. Its visuals are a homage to the counterculture movements of the time, saturated with color, sweeping landscapes, and situations that border on the surreal. The fashion, dialogue, and attitudes displayed are quintessentially '70s, encapsulating the style and swagger of the era.

Oz is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a fantastical adventure. As Dorothy journeys toward the wizard, she is confronted with the complexities of adulthood, love, friendship, and the realization that the world is not as black and white as she may have once believed. It serves as a metaphor for the passage every young person must take—a journey that often involves veering off the beaten path and finding one's own way through the various challenges life presents.

For those seeking an inventive, rock-flavored twist on a beloved classic, Oz offers a whimsical trip down memory lane mixed with the edge of an era where every young dreamer was encouraged to reach for the stars—or in this case, somewhere over the psychedelic rainbow of the Australian landscape.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (207)