TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Mia Goth and Ti West attend the "Pearl" Premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Alexandra Theatre on September 12, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
How Ti West's Pearl Remakes The Wizard
Of Oz As A
Horror Movie
Ti West’s “Pearl” is the prequel to his subversive slasher “X” and follows the story of a lonely, sadistic farm girl with dreams of becoming a dancer in movies. The film pays homage to classic Hollywood, offering a twist to the beloved “Wizard of Oz” through numerous visual and thematic references.
The vibrant technicolor palette featured in both films expresses the fantasies of both leads, but the dazzling colors later fade in “Pearl,” symbolizing Pearl’s isolation and growing anger as her dreams slip further away. While Dorothy and Pearl want a magical life for themselves, “Pearl” departs from the classic film’s uplifting conclusion and ends with a miserable
life stuck on the farm.
Some of the main characters in “The Wizard of Oz” appear in “Pearl,” albeit distorted versions of the beloved characters. The Scarecrow is an actual scarecrow with whom Pearl has a sexual interaction; her ill father, bound to a wheelchair and unable to express himself, represents the Tin man; her husband Howard, fearful of Pearl’s violent nature, could be the Cowardly Lion.
Pearl’s mother is the Wicked Witch of the movie, seeking to ruin her life and preventing her from finding artistic success, while her sister-in-law Misty subverts Glinda the Good Witch’s role and reinforces Pearl’s hatred for the farm. The projectionist acts as the titular Wizard, enticing Pearl with her fantasy life before it’s revealed that he can’t make them come true.