“Start the album at the lion’s third roar.”
The above quote is a mantra of ultraviolet basement-dwellers the world over, brave pilgrims of the ceremonious journey that is “Dark Side of the Rainbow.” In 1995, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette publicized the kinetic experience achieved by watching The Wizard of Oz while simultaneously listening to Pink Floyd’s iconic 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. The phenomenon earned a variety of evaluations, ranging from “A mild-altering spiritual experience!” to “A worthwhile way to pass a Saturday,” to “Complete bulls***.” It’s probably a little of each.
But with such a reputable companionship with the 1939 classic, we wondered if Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon would opt for the same kind of union with the latest incarnation of the yellow brick road: Walt Disney’s new feature film, Oz the Great and Powerful. And although we approached the idea with a bit of levity… it kind of works.
A viewing of Oz the Great and Powerful, teamed with a never-leave-home-without-it recording of the ’73 album, yeilded the sort of results in which our forefathers — the pioneers who first discovered this prodigious marvel (or giant crock, but we’re staying whimsical here) — might have first experienced that new sense of wonder. Don’t believe it? Well, let us take you on a journey…
“Speak to Me/Breathe”
Plays during the opening titles — a puppet show preamble to the fantastical film — and our black-and-white introduction to small-scale conman Oscar Diggs (James Franco). Nothing too remarkable here, but then…
“On the Run”
Oz’s first show! A levitation/disappearing act that involves the audience participation of a young lady, “chosen at random.” The reverberating instrumentals of the song crescendo as Oz lifts his assistant from the confines of gravity and transports her assistant into a wondrous oblivion.
As the storm (both emotional and literal) kicks up, so do the clocks of “Time.” Oz hides away in his tent while angry circus strong men seek vengeance on him, earning a visit from his beloved Emily (Michelle Williams in her non-witch incarnation). When Emily slams Oz with the news that she’s getting married to John Gale, the lyricized portion of “Time” begins abruptly. Her announcement of engagement is followed by an immediate and harsh, “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…”
“The Great Gig in the Sky”
Here’s the kicker. Just as Dorothy ascends to the heavens during “Great Gig in the Sky,” so does Oz. The appropriately titled number launches as he hops into his getaway hot air balloon, with Clare Torry’s mind-melting vocals climaxing as the storm gives way to a strange and mystical new reality… we have entered another realm.
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Another Wizard of Oz/Oz the Great and Powerful similarity: “Money” chimes in, with its cash register/clanging change sound effects accompanying the striking visuals of the colorful land of Oz, just as the case in the original.
“Us and Them”
Gotta be honest, I don’t remember what the hell happened here.
“Any Colour You Like”
More colours! Water fairies, crystal flowers, flying apes, the works!
Here’s one that works best in retrospect. Oz seduces his welcome wagon, witch Theodora (Mila Kunis), with a romantic woodland dance set to a music box tune. While it seems like a sweet, sentimental scene at first glance, those who sat through the film can pinpoint this as when Oz does in fact impart a bit of “brain damage” unto poor Theodora. And that’s as spoilery as we’re getting.
But don’t take our word for it. Try it out yourself! And let us know: artistic miracle or hippie nonsense?