Warning! This piece contains MASSIVE SPOILERS For the movie Pearl. We kindly ask you to watch the movie first and read this again later.
We all know the story. The story of little Dorothy Gale and the adventure she lives when she is taken to the wonderful land of Oz. The Wizard of Oz it’s one of the most timeless pieces of American literature ever produced, and the 1939 film adaptation remains one of the best (and scariest) movies of all time. This has resulted in numerous filmmakers of all genres and backgrounds drawing inspiration from the classic story in different ways over the years. you west takes it to another level with his new movie Pearl, the prequel to his slasher movie X which tells the story of the main character and his descent into total madness.
The film is riddled with parallels reminiscent of the classic 1939 film. The Wizard of Ozshowing how the story of the fairy tale can be used in a different context than the one we are used to.
From the outset, the aesthetic and film style choices are reminiscent of the Technicolor era of cinema. Technicolor is a color film shooting process that dates back to 1916 and uses a three-strip system in which a modified camera would capture footage through different color filters (typically red, green, and blue) and process separately. so that each strip would “print” multiple colors on a finished print of the film. The result was a vivid display of color not commonly seen in this age of cinema, although one film in particular became famous for its use of the process: The Wizard of Oz. Pearl pays homage to this by using a vivid color palette of bright reds, greens and blues, visually evoking the spirit of The Wizard of Oz.
From here we are introduced to Pearl (mine goth), a lonely farmer who lives a quiet life on her family’s farm. She helps care for her invalid father and is constantly reprimanded by her overbearing mother, Ruth. She dreams of a better life, but her husband is fighting in World War I and her situation has her with nowhere else to go. Pearl is a mirror image of Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz (up to pigtail braids). In that movie, Dorothy lives on a farm with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and dreams of somewhere “over the rainbow” to escape the mundane life she leads.
Pearl then goes into town on her bike to get her father’s medicine. When she arrives in town, she is presented with a completely different world than the one Pearl is used to. There’s music playing and people freely living their lives, and Pearl’s troubles melt away with a trip to the movies (with a side of microdosing). While she is here, she also meets the projectionist (David Corenswet) of the theater he frequents (more on him later). This runs parallel to the iconic scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is taken to the land of Oz. From the dull, drab palette of her sepia-toned world to a technicolor fantasy only possible in dreams.
As Pearl heads home, she is accidentally taken to a cornfield that is home to a scarecrow who oversees the field. Curious, Pearl begins to talk and dance seductively with the scarecrow, which eventually leads to a scene in which she acts out a sexual encounter with him and imagines the projectionist’s face before having a violent outburst informing him that she is married. Ashamed of what she has done, she returns home with the scarecrow’s hat in tow.
The scarecrow design is obviously heavily inspired by the design that was used on actor Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz. A noted dancer in life, the filmmakers gave his character a dance number when he was introduced and Pearl he returns the favor by having them share an intimate dance. One thing to note is that the script for the 1939 film has a final scene in which the Scarecrow’s human counterpart, Hunk, leaves for agricultural college and Dorothy promises to write to him, implying a romantic connection.
After a visit from Pearl’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Misty (emma jenkins-purro), learns of a local troupe that is holding auditions for their road show. Seeing this as his chance to escape his provincial life, he confronts his mother about auditioning for the dance troupe. Her mother responds with a violent outburst and talks about how she sacrificed everything to take care of Pearl’s father, including her dreams and goals. The argument reaches a boiling point when Pearl fights her mother over the fireplace and her mother’s dress catches fire, setting her on fire. Acting fast, Pearl proceeds to throw water on her screaming mother, engulfing her in a cloud of smoke, and throws her into the basement to die. This is the scene where we see Ruth evolve from understudy Aunt Em to a twisted metaphor for the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with a reenactment of the climactic scene where Dorothy throws water on her, killing her in the process.
Pearl flees into the arms of the Projectionist at the theater where they share an intimate love scene, despite the fact that she is married, and he also promises to take her to Europe. The next day, he offers to take her to her house so she can prepare for her big audition. When he overhears Pearl’s mother in the basement, he confronts her and finally catches her in a lie and decides to walk away from her, suggesting that he has no interest in seeing her again despite her developing romance. quickly. Feeling unappreciated, Ella Pearl snaps and proceeds to stab him through the heart, submerging her body (and her car) in a nearby swamp. The Projectionist is a cold, heartless bastard in the eyes of Pearl, the film. twisted version of the tin man who is infamously heartless. She takes revenge by destroying her heart. It’s important to recognize that he is the only character to share any kind of intimacy with Pearl, an act usually only reserved for lovers.
In the final act, Pearl dons one of Ruth’s dresses, a long red dress as a twisted subversion of Dorothy’s iconic short blue dress she wore when she visited Oz, and heads to her audition. After failing to get her role in the company, Pearl and Misty return to the farm where Pearl breaks down and confesses everything she’s done as she reveals her resentment towards her husband for abandoning her and leaving. to the war. The dance troupe was to Pearl what the hot air balloon was to Dorothy, the total fulfillment of a wish and an escape into the life she deserves. Scared by her confession, Misty tries to walk away from her when Pearl confronts her about doing the dance party and not telling her. Misty in this scene could be seen as an evocation of The Wizard of Oz‘s Cowardly Lion in his fear of Pearl, and his hair also feels like a nod to the curly locks the Cowardly Lion sported in the original movie.
After brutally murdering Misty with an axe, Pearl swears to “fix everything” and gathers her parents’ corpses at the dinner table to prove that, in her mind, things can go back to normal despite everything that happens. happened. Howard comes home from the war to find decomposing corpses in the dining room and Pearl wearing her farm girl look from the start. Know what we know about X, she never leaves the farm. She was doomed to spend the rest of her days in a mundane existence and not living the life that she felt she deserved. At the end of the day, Pearl realizes…
“There is no place like home”.
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