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Art Nouveau
by Uta Hasekamp

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon with many faces. Between 1890 and 1910, artists developed a variety of styles from the plant-like forms of the Belgian-French Art Nouveau to the ornamentation of the Viennese Secession. They were all striving to create a new, modern style and pursued a comprehensive renewal of art and, in some countries, a renewed national identity.

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Although the Art Nouveau style wasn’t around for a long time, its influence affected every form of art, from architecture to pottery to furniture design and even glass and pottery. This short video gives a brief overview of the Movement.

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 Somewhere Over the Rainbow
by Bob Brooke


On August 12th, 2019 the movie that never seems to grow old celebrated its 80th anniversary. For 80 years, Oz has entranced audiences with its optimistic promise: you may live on a dusty Kansas farm, but with just a dash of magic and a cooperative tornado, you, too, might make it "over the rainbow."

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, currently distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Widely considered to be one of the greatest films in cinema history, it is the best-known and most commercially successful adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Directed primarily by Victor Fleming, the film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale alongside Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr.

Characterized by its legendary use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and memorable characters, the film has become an icon of American popular culture. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to Gone with the Wind, also directed by Fleming. It did win in two other categories: Best Original Song for "Over the Rainbow" and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart. Though the producers considered it a critical success upon its release in August 1939, it failed to make a profit for MGM until the 1949 re-release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, not including promotional costs. This made it MGM's most expensive production at that time.

The Story
Dorothy Gale lives with her dog Toto on the Kansas farm of her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Toto bites their neighbor Almira Gulch on the leg, and she obtains an order from the sheriff for Toto to be euthanized. She takes Toto away on her bicycle, but he escapes and returns to Dorothy, and she decides to run away. She meets Professor Marvel, fortune teller and owner of a traveling medicine show, who uses his crystal ball to make Dorothy believe that Aunt Em may be dying of a broken heart. Dorothy races home, arriving just as a tornado strikes. Locked out of the farm's storm cellar, she seeks shelter in her bedroom. Wind-blown debris knocks her unconscious and the house is sent spinning in the air. She awakens to see various figures fly by, including Miss Gulch on her bicycle, who transforms into a witch on a broomstick.

The house lands in Munchkinland in the Land of Oz. Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the Munchkins welcome her as a heroine, as the falling house has killed the Wicked Witch of the East. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, arrives to claim the slippers, but Glinda transports them onto Dorothy's feet first. The Wicked Witch of the West swears revenge on Dorothy, then vanishes. Glinda tells Dorothy to keep the slippers on and follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where she can ask the Wizard of Oz to help her get back home.

On her journey, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, who wants a brain, the Tin Woodman, who desires a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, who needs courage. Dorothy invites them to accompany her to Emerald City, where they can ask the Wizard to help them too. Despite the Witch's attempts to stop them, they reach the Emerald City and are eventually permitted to see the Wizard, who appears as a large ghostly head surrounded by fire and smoke. He agrees to grant their wishes if they prove their worth by bringing him the Witch's broomstick.

As the foursome and Toto make their way to the Witch's castle, the Witch captures Dorothy and plots her death in order to remove her slippers. Toto escapes and leads her three friends to the castle. They ambush three guards, don the guards' uniforms, march inside and free Dorothy. The Witch and her guards chase and surround them. The Witch sets fire to the Scarecrow, causing Dorothy to toss a bucket of water, inadvertently splashing the Witch, who melts away. The guards rejoice and give Dorothy her broomstick.

The Wizard stalls in fulfilling his promises, until Toto pulls back a curtain and exposes the "Wizard" as a middle-aged man operating machinery and speaking into a microphone. Admitting to being a humbug, he insists that he is a good man but a bad wizard. He then gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Lion a medal and the Tin Man a ticking heart-shaped watch, helping them see that the attributes they sought were already within them. He then offers to take Dorothy and Toto home in his hot air balloon. He reveals that he, too, is from Kansas, and worked at a carnival when a tornado brought him to the Emerald City. He was offered and accepted the job as Wizard due to hard times.

As Dorothy and the Wizard prepare to depart, Toto, distracted by a cat, leaps from Dorothy's arms. As she pursues Toto, the balloon disembarks with the Wizard, leaving Dorothy. Glinda appears and tells Dorothy the ruby slippers have the power to return her to Kansas if she taps her heels together three times repeating "There's no place like home." Dorothy complies and wakes up in her bedroom surrounded by her family and friends, including Toto. Everyone dismisses her adventure as a dream, but Dorothy insists it was real and says she will never run away from home again. She then declares: "There's no place like home!"

The original producers thought that a 1939 audience was too sophisticated to accept Oz as a straight-ahead fantasy; therefore, it was re-conceived as a lengthy, elaborate dream sequence. The original script was so bad, it had to go through extensive re-writes.

Special Effects
Today’s movie audience expects high-tech special effects. But those created for the Wizard of Oz were strictly old school. The creation of the tornado was a good example. Gillespie used muslin cloth to make the tornado flexible after a previous attempt with rubber failed. He hung the 35 feet of muslin to a steel gantry and connected the bottom to a rod. By moving the gantry and rod, he was able to create the illusion of a tornado moving across the stage. He then sprayed Fuller's earth from both the top and bottom using compressed air hoses to complete the effect.

For the "horse of a different color" scene, Gillespie used Jell-O powder to color the white horses. He also used asbestos to achieve some of the special effects like the witch's burning broomstick and the fake snow that covers Dorothy as she sleeps in the field of poppies.

Why Was the Wizard of Oz Such a Hit
After the years of the Great Depression and the confusing reports coming from Europe as World War II ramped up, people were looking for an escape, and the Wizard of Oz filled the bill. But even with that sort of impetus, the movie wasn’t a huge success—at least not at first.

But the film did have everything going for it. It had spot-on casting, with Judy Garland as the wide-eyed Dorothy, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch, and an Arlen & Harburg score that included the instant smash ballad "Over the Rainbow."

And when it came to spectacle, there were lavish costumes, colorfully detailed sets, and eye-popping special effects to create the Kansas Tornado, the Flying Monkeys, and the Melting Witch.

Then there was that underlying tug-at-your-heartstrings message—people don't really know what they've got, until suddenly they don't have it anymore. In other words, "There's no place like home."

But what was so special about the premiere of this beloved classic? It was shot in Technicolor, a four-color process that produced extremely vibrant colors. The film’s producers used it to emphasize the fantasy.

In any other year, the Wizard of Oz would have zoomed to the top of the box office charts, but this was 1939 and strong competition included the year's powerhouse, "Gone With The Wind." Even a huge box office take couldn't cover the production's expense. Only with re-releases did "The Wizard of Oz" turn a profit, and only with a move from the big screen to the little one of the TV did it achieve iconic status.

And that occurred on November 3, 1956. At 9 p.m. across America, plenty of pajama-clad baby-boomers were curled up in front of their TVs. breathlessly awaiting the first-ever TV broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz." Ordinarily, they'd be in bed by then, but their folks had given in to CBS publicity, which implored, "Let the kids stay up to watch this brilliant musical fairy tale."

Eyes opened wide at the terrors of the of the tornado. Giggles ensued when the Cowardly Lion growled "Put `em up -put `em up!"...and faces were hidden in pillows. when the Wicked Witch let loose with her dastardly cackle. In the days of just three major networks, most people believed watching "The Wizard of Oz" in the comfort of their own living rooms was over the top.

From then on until recently, the airing of the Wizard of Oz quickly became an annual TV staple. For the generations whose first exposure to the movie was on TV. "The Wizard of Oz" was just as exciting...just as unforgettable... as it must have been at its 1939 premiere.

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