Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road to find some interesting ideas

Laurence Coupe                  Writer
Buxton Advertiser  7 December 2023
Derbyshire Times 7 December 2023

The Wizard of Oz is an entertaining classic film that is always worth viewing again. One reason is that it’s full of interesting ideas. Here are a few.

Reality and Fantasy. Some of the characters in Kansas reappear in the land of Oz, but transfigured. The three farmhands become the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion who join Dorothy on her journey. The nasty Miss Gulch, who wants to have Dorothy’s little dog, Toto, put down, becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Professor Marvel, the bogus psychic, becomes the Wizard of Oz.

This reminds us that ordinary people are potentially fascinating, and that even the wildest fantasy has its roots in the mundane world with which we might be dissatisfied.

Don’t Be Fooled! When Dorothy and her three friends stand before the awesome image of the Wizard of Oz for the second time, Toto is the one to uncover the Wizard’s secret: he pulls away a curtain to the side of the huge image of the Wizard, revealing an ordinary man manipulating a machine. The image of the almighty Wizard is a fraud. A little dog teaches us that all too often those who appear high and mighty are actually humble mortals putting on an act.

The Circuitous Quest. The traditional quest narrative nearly always involved a male hero – a warrior who has to prove his worth – but here the protagonist is a young girl with no special strength or secret power. Yet what Dorothy gains from her journey is remarkable, making her ready to return home.

If Dorothy’s adventure can be described as a quest, then it’s best described as ‘circuitous’. To quote the poet T.S.Eliot: ‘And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.’

Enough Already! Dorothy thought she needed the Wizard to show her the way home, but the Good Witch tells her simply to click the heels of her ruby slippers, think of home, and she’ll be there – because she has now learnt to appreciate it. ‘There’s no place like home.’

Similarly, her three friends don’t need the Wizard to grant their wishes. In coming to Dorothy’s aid when she’s caught by the Wicked Witch, they prove that they already have a brain (Scarecrow), a heart (Tin Man) and courage (Lion).

There’s lots more to say … but for now that’s enough already!