“Somewhere” deconstructs the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.” Many overlapping copies of the footage, each with a slightly different duration, are superimposed, creating an effect where the images seem to radiate like beams of light from the center of the frame, and the song sounds as echo-y as if sung in an immense cathedral. The effect is most intense at the beginning of the video, gradually disappears by the center, and then slowly returns again by the end.
This formal device, which Spencer imposes on the now classic footage, highlights how amazing this sequence is in the original. The sepia tones of the “Kansas” sections (I think Spencer has altered the color) highlight the sense of longing, of being trapped in everyday dullness, which permeates these sections of the film and which contrasts so strongly with the saturated color of the Oz sections. Spencer’s deconstruction also highlights the way Dorothy sings most of the song to her dog, which cutely holds out his paw. A great deal of Dorothy’s iconic power in “Wizard” has to do with her closeness to this animal, as if she is a kind of nature deity or goddess, in deep communication with the natural world. Spencer’s echo device also highlights the way each image was originally framed, since whatever is in the center of the frame now stands out as the only clear thing in the picture, often the post of a fence, marking the closest point of the vast Kansas plains.
We cult fans of “Wizard” tend to feel, as time goes on, that the movie continues to deepen in its mythic resonance and iconic stature. Spencer succeeds in creating an image which captures this reverence; that of a ‘real girl’ being progressively turned into rays of light; into a goddess.
Posted on March 8, 2004 in Reviews by David Finkelstein
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