Inside Out 2016: The Slippers

The Slippers 01

I love this movie! I love this movie! I love this movie!

How many words is that?

Damn. Okay, I’ll elaborate.

For anyone who really loves movies- American movies in particular- it’s easy to be almost immediately won over by this documentary about Hollywood nostalgia. Specifically, the legacy of Victor Fleming’s Wizard of Oz and- arguably the most iconic piece of costume in Hollywood history- Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Having travelled to Los Angeles last summer, I can testify to the surreal and sometimes magical feeling that comes from getting close to famous props. How surprising it is then that there was a time not so long ago that studios didn’t recognize the value of preserving their own history.

Enter costume expert and cinephile Kent Warner. In 1970, MGM was liquidating its backlog and Warner was hired to help select props and costumes to be auctioned off. Obsessed with Hollywood’s Golden Age (Oz in particular), he rescued the slippers from their probable date with the studio dumpster.

The Slippers has very little footage of him (he unfortunately died of AIDS in 1984), but still manages to present Warner’s enthusiasm as palpable and contagious. I would have loved for the whole movie to be about him and the miraculous preservation of history in general. But no. It turns out that there are a few pairs of ruby slippers (test pairs, back-up pairs, etc.). In fact, no one’s sure exactly how many are out there. And not every owner is as selfless as Kent.

Yes, some will choose to hide their slippers away and keep them for themselves. Others will use and take advantage of others. Some will even steal. As a documentary, The Slippers is as effective and fascinating in its examination of the dark side of a collector’s obsession as it is a tribute to genuine passion for art.

Screens:
Sunday, June 5, 5:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the Inside Out website.