Dark Side of the Rainbow

How the Texas Theatre advertised Dark Side of the Rainbow



Ten kids high on aspartame and orange food colouring were finally silenced at my house a few weeks ago when I put on the so-sharp-it-hurts remastered Wizard Of Oz. The 1939 classic’s SFX were still brilliant and Judy Garland’s performance is so thigh-slapping that it had a magical effect on adults too. Oddly, the film has always been a big one for gay men – Elton John, an arch Friend Of Dorothy, named his biggest album Goodbye Yellow Road in the days when he was still straight, or bi, or whatever he was. But if the mark of a great work of art is that it can be re-interpreted, re-purposed and mythologised then The Wizard of Oz surely fits the category. Even Pink Floyd fans have got in on the act, claiming that if you start the classic Dark Side of the Moon album when the MGM lion roars for the third time and turn down the film’s soundtrack, then what you’ll hear is a spookily synchronised new soundtrack to the film. This might be wishful thinking on Floyd fans’ part but it’s surely worth a try on a wet afternoon. To fit the length of the film the record has to played through three times. Dark Side of the Rainbow, is what it’s called, and enterprising repertory cinemas are giving the audio-visual mash-up a whirl. Never mind the tin man’s search for a heart, looks like the Wizard just got new legs.

2013 update: there are quite a few items claiming to be properly synced versions of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. At the moment of writing there are two for sale on Amazon. If they’re the same ones I’m looking at they’re no good. You’ll just get a CD of DSOTM and more than likely a VHS (unbelievable) of TWoO. If you’re looking at Amazon, take a hard look at the customer comments – very useful.

© Steve Morrissey 2001



The Wizard of Oz




Made in 1939, Hollywood’s annus mirabilis – yes, it was a long time ago – The Wizard of Oz is one of the highest achievments of “glorious Technicolor”. A finicky, expensive and slow process, Technicolor’s three-strip system, as the name suggests, used three separate, differently filtered, film negatives in its giant cameras to produce a single finished image of exceptional depth of colour, especially at the red end of the spectrum – hence “ruby” slippers. Now, thanks to a new digital print restored from those original three negatives – Technicolor is incredibly durable too – audiences can recreate the moment when Depression-era filmgoers were first transported from dull, sepia-toned Kansas, over the rainbow and into the vibrant world of Oz. It might enhance viewing pleasure to know that it took an awful lot of light to get the silver nitrate in those three separate strips to react, and that the huge lighting rigs used on set caused some cast member to complain for ever afterwards that the wonderful Wizard had in fact ruined their eyesight. Temperatures were way up high too, regularly over 35°C. Which is not much fun if you’re dressed in a lion suit, a tinman’s costume or stuffed with straw. It does, though, explain the Wicked Witch of the West’s “I’m melting!”

© Steve Morrissey 2006


The Wizard of Oz – at Amazon