Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wizard of Oz: Rethinking

Dorothy isn't the same pig-tailed girl I remember; she's different now that I'm older and educated. Within the first few moments of the film shown in class, Wizard of Oz, all I thought of was how much I hated when people sing in movies. I never noticed it as a child, perhaps I had developed a hatred for musicals over the years but needless to say, it was the first thing that caught my attention.

Having previous knowledge from Professor McRae that this was a film that had close knitted weaves of homosexual innuendos throughout, made me look for things that I hadn't seen as a child. I was looking at the movie with a critical eye this time, searching for underlying meanings and areas with double meaning. What I found was the obvious, as discussed in class. I didn't know that rainbows were associated with gays due to Wizard of Oz. This alone opened a lot of doors throughout the film to notice feminine behavior amongst Dorothy's three friends. The land of Oz was comforting and like a student put it, it was a place to be yourself. Being as though the film bounced from black and white to color was a key ingredient of the newness that entered Dorothy's world. Even though their was no mention of sex preference, this place was introduced as inviting with its colorful world and flamboyant characters.

The reading brought up a point that I liked when it mentioned how the heart, brain and courage were treated like objects instead of ideas. This to me was a clear as day indication of how the movie is criticized. "Home" was being treated like an object, a destination throughout the entire movie when at the end, Dorothy had to find it within herself to go back to the place like no other.

Now the two points I'd like to bring up are these: I never realized how towards the end, when the wizard was granting everyone their wishes, that he described the common person from America. He did this when he said, "where I come from" which was interesting because it seemed to downgrade people who went to college. Handing the scarecrow a diploma and saying that the only thing others have that he doesn't isn't a brain, it's a diploma. I thought this was very interesting now that I look back on it.

The point that I would like to bring up in something much different than those mentioned in class. I took a very political standpoint upon watching the movie as an adult. Being as though the movie came out during the Depression, people were undoubtedly grieving and in distress. Let's face it, America was a train wreck at the time and what better than to go to the movies to get away from it all? Wizard of Oz creates this fantasy by first reminding you that life is pretty unbearable at home before launching into a world where your mind can wonder and lookey there, it's in color! It has a relationship automatically with its audience because everyone at that particular time probably did wish they were somewhere over the rainbow in another land. This was the movie to help them escape. As the innocent story continues Dorothy keeps repeating how she begs to go home and "there's no place like home" even though she is somewhere magical and perfect. This to me, was hinting that "home" meaning America, is where you should return to and it is home that has a pull over you even though life can be beautiful elsewhere.

As the reading said, the book did not end the same way the movie did. People argued that the movie needed a "happy ending" and that's because America did not want to let their citizens know that there was an alternative. When you think of it realistically, when Dorothy returns home and wakes up in her bed, is she really happy to be back there? We never get the chance to see if she indeed is happy. This screamed politics to me especially at the end when they left you with her happy, reminding the audience that what she encountered was only a dream.

Something to think about I suppose, how many angles can we see this movie through?


  1. You made some great points. I personally do not see the political side that you are talking about. I think that this movie is a happy go lucky movie to get the general public out of their dreary days. But everyone has a different opinion of what this movie is about. Just like you asked at the end, everyone has a different angle to this movie. We do see her happy but how much longer is she really happy there. I think if it continued than it would show that Dorothy wants to go back just like she goes back in the book.

  2. I love what you have to say here and agree fully. The political look that you took in the post was something that I hadn't thought about before. The politics of movie studios trying to reach the public with outstanding values for america and 'the home' is very interesting as well and there are many ways that the last scene where she wakes up can be interpreted. It seems that she is happy to be home but at the same time she is flustered and seems reluctant to say that it was all just a dream which I think shows how much she wishes it were real.

  3. I really like the multiple angles you're viewing the movie through. The interesting thing is, such a seemingly simple little movie can contain so many different stories. And I think you're quite right to focus on the time it was made. I'd really like to hear more about all the ways abstract things were rendered into objects here--and objects of derision at that. That's fairly close to some of the possible political implications in the book, actually. Just to be clear, I don't think the movie had a gay subtext. Rather, for some reason, the gay community in the 70s and 80s especially found it strongly resonant.