Flickchart’s Greatest Battles

 In which we pit two movies together using flickchart.com, debating their merits or lack thereof.







   I have to admit, this pairing didn’t just force me to think for a minute–I agonized over it.  Some movies are hard to pit against each other because of how different they are; this is not one of those cases.  They’re both musical films, although only “Wizard of Oz” can be declared “a musical,” whereas “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” uses American music as a storytelling device.  They both contain supernatural storybook elements–Wizard being an adaptation of Frank L. Baum’s book, and Brother being a Mississippian Depression-era treatment of Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.”  Protagonists from both films find themselves far from home, longing to get back there, and embarking on a winding journey passing through good and evil, encountering friends, foes, and seers along the way.

   Wizard, which was released in 1939, already has an unfair advantage over Brother due to its “classic” status.  This is not to say that Brother can’t also achieve this (increasingly meaningless) label, but just that it’s too early to tell–it hasn’t earned its laugh wrinkles yet.

   Then there’s the music to consider.  The music in Wizard (again, probably due to the amount of time it’s been around) is iconic–its most popular song even became a significant cultural marker for many Americans during the 50s and 60s, Americans who would refer to themselves as “friends of Dorothy” and later carry rainbow flags during marches of LGBT pride and protest.  The music in Brother is plenty fun.  In fact, I actually prefer many songs in Brother to those in Wizard, but–lacking a golden voice like Garland’s–they don’t accomplish much in terms of accolades, especially when the recordings of the singers have that distinct studio-sound–close to the mic, digitally softened, overproduced.

   Finally, we have our heroes.  Clooney’s awfully good at playing himself, but gosh darn it, it works in Brother.  He’s exactly the kind of man that can make you understand why his wife would have such a tough time leaving him despite his criminal tendencies.  But we don’t ever get the sense that he’s grown during his journey back home.  His wife takes him back because he’s hot, charming, and sings a bluegrass song with his jail buddies, and that’s that.  Garland, however, plays a character whose journey is truly transformative.  Dorothy learns about others and herself, and comes home the right way.

After much consternation… -EW


The Wizard of Oz