I have long held the belief that every person has their obsession. For some people it’s clothes, for others it’s cars; for me, it’s movies. My free time is filled with film: watching films, reading about films, and writing about films. I have never sat down and calculated just how much time I spend with films nor have I figured out the amount of money that I have spent on DVDs, Blu-rays, Lego sets, or movie related artwork, and that’s on purpose. As long as I don’t know, it doesn’t have to be real or as embarrassing as it should be to a reasonable person. The Slippers is a film about obsession, about people losing their minds over a pair of shoes. It sounds silly, but I kind of get it.
…what is impressive about Morgan White’s direction is how the many stories are gently folded in, winning the viewer over bit by bit.
The Slippers hinges a great deal on your sense of nostalgia but so does its source material. I have been watching The Wizard of Oz since I was a small child, but I would never call it one of my favorites. If I run across it on television I am strangely drawn to it. If a year goes by and I haven’t watched it, well then that’s one strange year. The pull of The Wizard of Oz is that draw to my youth, to a time when film was new and magical. Any theory or analysis is thrown by the wayside for Oz and as soon its familiar dulcet tones are heard, all pretense melts away. But it can be hard to communicate this longing and that is the very thing that The Slippers has trouble dealing with.
The nostalgia within the film is initially somewhat jarring. The praise so grandiose and bombastic as to be off putting. “This is too much attention for anything,” you find yourself thinking as the multitude of devoted fans expound on the exceptional virtues of Oz. It is a bit troubling, even as a fan, and you don’t want to believe that any one person would have this level of devotion to a property of such age. However, what is impressive about Morgan White’s direction is how the many stories are gently folded in, winning the viewer over bit by bit. What began as ludicrous becomes reasonable, and you are ever more invested in the journey of these shoes.
Much of this story takes place in the past and White is smart in the deployment and use of archival footage, even if some clips feel somewhat over recycled. White is able to transport us to the days of old Hollywood, to a time when there was no industry for movie memorabilia and props were more likely thrown out than coveted. But even better than taking us to another time, White has found some of the strangest and most interesting personalities to throw into the film. The type of people that find it both acceptable and reasonable to spend a small fortune on a dress or slippers all because of the memories tied to them. White treats the subjects fairly, never painting their perceived lunacy as anything else but logical. This level-headed positioning of the film deceives the audience to the point that you will be surprised just how much appears sensible in the current environment.
The Slippers is a film of momentum and for at least the first half it is achingly slow going.
As much as the film is able to take you to a different place and gracefully alter your sanity, it is not without its foibles. The editing is stilted and smacks of “made for TV,” and the beginning is hopelessly mired in table setting. The Slippers is a film of momentum and for at least the first half it is achingly slow going. White wants you to understand the mood of old Hollywood and the attitudes of its inhabitants to the point that it is detrimental to the greater film. The film is poorly paced and seemingly circuitous until the eponymous slippers are located and begin to move. But once that gets going, the humdrum nature of the proceedings fades and the pace is ratcheted up to nearly thrilling levels.
The success of The Slippers eventually boils down to its singular viewer. For the viewer that has an adoration and respect for The Wizard of Oz there is no need to convince you. For the cinephile, the cutting undercurrent of nostalgia and engrossing tale of the emergence and growth of the movie memorabilia industry will eventually convert you to a believer. For the others? Well The Slippers’ winning characters and bevy of stories might not be enough to completely win you over. Nevertheless, director Morgan White has put together a documentary that celebrates and cherishes film. It paints a picture of exaltation that is delicately convincing. The Slippers is a touching tribute to The Wizard of Oz and film fans in general. While its sense of nostalgia is initially a bit much, it eventually washes over you and becomes the reason you smile.
The Slippers is a touching tribute to The Wizard of Oz and film fans in general. While its sense of nostalgia is initially a bit much, it eventually washes over you and becomes the reason you smile.