(Canada, 90 min.)
Dir. Morgan White
Programme: Artscapes (Canadian Premiere)
The Slippers is a film about obsession, delusion, hoarding and honouring history. It details the famed ruby slippers donned by young Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and soon sprawls into a crime thriller, a general investigation into the ethics of theft in the face of destroyed legacy, and how a select group of individuals valiantly spent decades trying to rescue Hollywood history from the dumpster.
“France has the Mona Lisa, we have The Wizard of Oz,” says one of the talking head participants, and while this might underplay La Joconde’s importance in world art history it nonetheless speaks to the kind of obsession that the 1939 film holds for some. The Slippers traces a slippery slope where interest in preservation quickly became a game played by a select few breaking moral mores (and sometimes laws) in order to hold a piece of Hollywood legend.
White’s film does well at providing a broad overview of the tale of Dorothy’s red shoes, but it fails to fully cohere into a satisfying film: too many threads are pulled, too many stories aren’t set straight, too many memories are given equal shrift. As a glimpse into the unique subculture spurred on Judy Garland and the resonant tale of Oz, it has the makings of something provocative, but with dry interviews and haphazard selected clips (clearly clearance wasn’t given for more) it feels more scattered than it should.
Despite the stylistic and formal misfires, The Slippers’ subject does remain compelling for any lover of film, and one does get a glimpse into a niche group for whom the The Wizard of Oz holds a powerful meaning. It’s unfortunate that the film feels repetitive and aimless, as there’s a truly powerful and interesting story at the heart here, though perhaps not one conducive to a full length theatrical doc.
The Slippers screens:
-Saturday, April 30 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 3:15 PM
-Sunday, May 1 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 1:15 PM
-Sunday, May 8 at The Regent at 6:45 PM
Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.
Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.