Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

When I was a kid, growing up in the UK, The Wizard of Oz would be on TV pretty much every Xmas.  I saw it a couple of times back then, but by the time I was eight or nine, I was far too grown up for such things.

As an adult, of course, I've learned that there are very few things I'm too grown up for (which is why Fraggle Rock and H R Pufnstuf are on my DVD shelves). However, I never did see The Wizard of Oz again.  So a few years (yes, years) ago, when I saw the "special edition" available cheaply, I picked it up.  And then it sat on my shelf, unwatched, until now.  I told you I had too many unwatched DVDs, right?

Anyway, I doubt I'm spoiling anything about the movie if I tell you that it involves a young woman who is swept away to another world, where she encounters an evil witch, makes friends with a motley crew of weirdos, and eventually finds her way home after a lot of musical numbers and other such antics.  On her return to Earth, her family are pleased to see her, but discount her tales of her strange adventure as fevered dreams.

I had two main take-aways from watching this film as an adult. The first was an appreciation for just how many cultural references come from it. I knew "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too", and a couple of others, but there were dozens, small and large, throughout the film. The second was that the film makes a lot more sense if you accept Aunt Em's version of events: Dorothy hit her head, had strange dreams, and then woke up. Under that interpretation the movie's events become symbolic rather than literal, and they become considerably less nonsensical that way.

It's useful to see The Wizard of Oz in order to understand how influential a work it has been on popular culture, so I recommend seeing it on that basis, but I would not recommend it purely for its entertainment value.

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