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Whistler’s love of the Dark Side

Exploring the connections between Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wizard of Oz”



What: The Dark Side of Oz

When: Thursday, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Admission: $9.99

It’s a perennial childhood classic film with an eerie twist.

The MGM classic film, “The Wizard of Oz,” may, on the surface, be about a charming young girl with ruby red slippers with cute Toto in tow, but in 1994 it’s rumoured that a university student accidentally discovered some startling parallels between the film and Pink Floyd’s acclaimed album “The Dark Side of the Moon” with sounds and pivotal moments in the music precisely matching images in “Oz.”

“He kind of noticed these really crazy similarities taking place, and they started spreading the news across campus and then one of the local radios picked it up, and it just spread like wildfire across the world,” said Christian Kessner of Higher Ground Entertainment a Vancouver-based event company that has brought The Dark Side of Oz show to Whistler four times already.

One classic moment of synchronicity occurs when the film switches from black and white to colour – as soon as Dorothy opens the door, a cash register rings, and the song “Money” starts to play.

“So there are some cool similarities like that,” Kessner explained, “In total, there are about 145 matches that are known.”

The members of Pink Floyd have repeatedly denied intentionally producing the 1973 album to match up with the 1939 film.

The Dark Side of Oz first came to Kessner’s attention a few years ago, when he came across a radio interview about the show.

“It was just so interesting to me – I like the whole underground culture scene,” said Kessner, “I just find it so amazing and interesting how things can spread by word of mouth that way.”

Kessner decided to bring the show to town on a whim and, to his surprise, it was a sold-out event. People showed up in droves, decked out in costumes to boot, and afterwards he began getting calls to bring the show back to town.

You see, this movie/album synchronicity has become something of a cult phenomenon, with crowds of hundreds, even thousands, gathering to check out the strange similarities for themselves.

“I was just in London a month ago now, and they had 2,000 people at the screening there. I was just in Vancouver two weeks ago at the Ritz Theatre, and they had 800 people there.”

The Dark Side of Oz certainly draws a very diverse crowd – from teenagers to people in their 60s – and Kessner speculates that it also appeals to the transient population of Whistler, perhaps because the show has actually made the Lonely Planet’s list of things to do before you die.

“A lot of people have heard about it, but haven’t seen it or experienced it,” he added.

The show has also been mentioned on popular TV shows like The Family Guy, which may help to explain the popularization of the production. But Kessner believes there are a few underlying ties to childhood, as well.

“Obviously the movie itself is brilliant, and if you’re familiar with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, that album is absolutely amazing. So when you’re able to take that album and take it out of the home stereo setting and actually play it on one of the theatre sound systems… its overwhelming.”

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