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Author Topic: Wizard Of Oz Thoughts  (Read 7991 times)
Mortal Envelope
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2007, 10:27:50 AM »

I once read an interesting essay that this movie is a critique of religion.  The main characters go through the story all searching for the almighty in order to gain something they each already had only to discover the almighty was just a guy behind a curtain with smoke and mirrors.

I thought that take on it was interesting.  I've also heard there is a similar school of thought regarding the Looking Glass/Alice in Wonderland and also in Frankenstein.
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2007, 01:36:34 PM »

Good points, especially since many of the actors who played the Munchkins were also in The Terror of Tiny Town.

I'd never consider it a b-movie, though.
Plus, Harry Earles, who played Hans in Freaks, was one of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins.  The one in blue on the right.
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2007, 02:28:18 PM »

Oz has been saddled with quite a bit of cultural baggage over the years --
Once upon a time, a popular interpretation had it as a critique of the US economy, the abandonment of the Gold Standard, etc.  The Emerald City & the green glasses were supposed to symbolize the illusory nature of a non-Gold Standard currency, the Wizard was supposed to be William Jennings Bryan, etc. etc.  I even believed this for a long time, before reading an essay that took it all apart & showed it as an "urban legend".
And let's not start on "Dark Side of The Rainbow" . . .
One thing many people don't know is that there were quite a number of silent film versions of the Oz books that predate the 1939 version by some 20 years in some instances -- I think the first one was filmed in 1912 -- some filmed by Baum himself.  He even wrote the musical scores for them & did stage adaptations of his work as well.
I worked with John Goodman, Phyllis Diller, and a huge cast (Mako as The Monkey King!!) on the 2000 radio version of the book for PRI.  Phil Proctor was on board as well & was a font of Baumish knowledge.  He had an original pop-up Wizard of Oz book from 1922 & we made the cut-out Emerald City & placed the buildings all around the recording studio.
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2007, 03:52:32 PM »

Where have you been Peter Johnson?
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2007, 10:07:43 PM »

Mr. Johnson/Crane, is this Straight Dope column the article you refer to?  (Or this less entertaining, more academic article?)

Anyway, Mortal Envelope's description makes more sense then a lot of the other interps.  Self reliance is definitely a theme of this American fairy tale.
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« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2007, 02:36:50 PM »

Yes, the David Parker article -- He reveals Oz as a neutral screen upon which we can project our cultural interpretations.  I was always told that Baum was writing an intentional allegory, and not until later was I shown that this was not the case.
* * *
Scott:  Well, I've been working/looking for work/not able to spend much time at Badmovies, as I've been worn down by side projects.  I've been keeping my hand in on stage stuff -- lent my Theremin to a company doing "The Foreigner", so they could have spooky ghost noises when the phony Klansman gets sucked into the floor & disappears (Read the script -- it's around . . .).  I've done a few more short films:  "Still Water" got a screening in Hollywood this past August at the Flickering Images Festival -- I was mentioned positively by one of the judges.  Waiting on some other things to get finished.  Just finished filming a very funny short called "Two Men Walk Into a Bar . . .", which I really hope gets some wide distribution, but mostly film-makers spend their budget on product & hold very little back for entry fees and distribution costs.  I'm used to it.
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« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2007, 04:45:48 PM »

Glad to hear from you again Peter Johnson. Stop back soon.
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Derf
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« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2007, 10:42:17 PM »

I once read an interesting essay that this movie is a critique of religion.  The main characters go through the story all searching for the almighty in order to gain something they each already had only to discover the almighty was just a guy behind a curtain with smoke and mirrors.

I thought that take on it was interesting.  I've also heard there is a similar school of thought regarding the Looking Glass/Alice in Wonderland and also in Frankenstein.

The problem with this reading is that there is nothing in the story/movie/book to steer us to it. I am an English teacher, so I can claim at least a little expertise in this area. I understand that most of us have been taught that such-and-such a story is really about something totally different when you interpret it in a certain way. And I'll admit there is a school of literary criticism that allows for this. I just find that notion distasteful. I prefer trying to get at what the author was trying to do; it is a much more genuine approach in my opinion. Just because you can "interpret" a story or poem to mean something doesn't mean that the story actually holds that meaning. I always tell my students that if there is evidence that the author wants you to go a certain direction with a story, then that is fine. However, to overlay a story with some artificial structure just so you can make a statement that is not supported by the story and was never the intent of the author is disengenuous at best.

Anyway, Mortal Envelope's description makes more sense then a lot of the other interps.  Self reliance is definitely a theme of this American fairy tale.

TWOZ most definitely has a theme of self reliance, but it doesn't get there at the expense of religion. I know I'm coming across like some kind of know-it-all "I'm Right and Only My Opinion Matters" type; I don't mean to. I just respectfully disagree with this type of approach to Literature (film included). TWOZ, as I said, is my favorite film, so I am probably overzealous in defending it. That said, there is plenty to examine without resorting to "interpretation."
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2007, 12:23:56 AM »

I once read an interesting essay that this movie is a critique of religion.  The main characters go through the story all searching for the almighty in order to gain something they each already had only to discover the almighty was just a guy behind a curtain with smoke and mirrors.

I thought that take on it was interesting.  I've also heard there is a similar school of thought regarding the Looking Glass/Alice in Wonderland and also in Frankenstein.

The problem with this reading is that there is nothing in the story/movie/book to steer us to it. I am an English teacher, so I can claim at least a little expertise in this area. I understand that most of us have been taught that such-and-such a story is really about something totally different when you interpret it in a certain way. And I'll admit there is a school of literary criticism that allows for this. I just find that notion distasteful. I prefer trying to get at what the author was trying to do; it is a much more genuine approach in my opinion. Just because you can "interpret" a story or poem to mean something doesn't mean that the story actually holds that meaning. I always tell my students that if there is evidence that the author wants you to go a certain direction with a story, then that is fine. However, to overlay a story with some artificial structure just so you can make a statement that is not supported by the story and was never the intent of the author is disengenuous at best.

Anyway, Mortal Envelope's description makes more sense then a lot of the other interps.  Self reliance is definitely a theme of this American fairy tale.

TWOZ most definitely has a theme of self reliance, but it doesn't get there at the expense of religion. I know I'm coming across like some kind of know-it-all "I'm Right and Only My Opinion Matters" type; I don't mean to. I just respectfully disagree with this type of approach to Literature (film included). TWOZ, as I said, is my favorite film, so I am probably overzealous in defending it. That said, there is plenty to examine without resorting to "interpretation."


Hey Derf, I agree with your basic philosophy of analyzing literature.  But Mortal Envelope does suggest some internal evidence for this theory.  The Wizard was a seemingly omnipotent, distant being.  He first appears as a flaming head in the sky, sort of an Old Testament God of wrath, but on closer inspection, once the curtain is pulled aside, he is revealed as a compassionate being who works in more subtle ways, a God who helps those who help themeselves.  That's not an anti-religious interpretation.  Admittedly, the fact that the Wizard resists being revealed and is embarrassed when he is found out weakens that interp.  But I don't believe that was Baum's (or the filmmakers) intent, I just think that theory's a lot more defensible than that gold-standard allegory jive. 

Sometimes, especially in a fairy tale type story, the author just puts big symbols on the canvas and lets them play against each other naturally and go where they will.  I think that's what TWOZ does.  As the author in the second article I linked suggested, Baum wrote "a story so rich it can be, like the book's title character, anything we want it to be..."
   
By the way, I wasn't offended by your comments and they didn't come off as self-righteous.  I just didn't want to be misunderstood myself.  I think we agree, both about the meaning and quality of the film.     
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Mortal Envelope
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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2007, 11:38:02 AM »

Heck...didn't mean to get all that started :)  I know what you're saying about reading into things and finding things that weren't meant to be so.  I just mentioned reading an interesting essay on it in the past...not sure if I really agree with all of it, but it was a way of looking at the story that never dawned on me before.   Never thought about the economic viewpoint of the story either.  Perhaps the author's only message was this: Kansas is boring! lol
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« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2007, 11:42:09 AM »

Mortal Envelope, I love the Angry Red Planet avatar!   Thumbup

I always wanted to slap the taste out of the mouth of the slimeball captain in that movie.  Well, him and the warrant officer.
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« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2007, 12:22:51 PM »

The film and the wizard can represent the motif and a archtype of mankinds earthly journey, of heaven, and of God. It would be better interpreted that first mankind only sees God as this strict mean being who is to be feared because His created world is harsh. Veiled by the curtain of this world the mind has mistakenly equated the world/harshness/and God as one. Then later to be revealed that God's truth is only found in the heart. The world is kinda like a training ground and test for souls. The reason we follow "morality" or the "yellow brick road" is because other things distract us from God and these small distractions make us feel unworthy when we finally approach God's presence. Especially when we have been told of a greater place and didn't listen. Kinda like Dorthy running away from home. Lost souls literally send themselves to hell because lost souls are embarrassed and ashamed finding this world to be more interesting than the pure love of the Divine or in the case of the movie Dorthy's home.

They brought the right desires to Emeral City, but they were detoured and are told to fight the evil witch by the false wizard. The wizards eventual false human mercy couldn't help them in the end. It's all part of the souls journey and discoveries. Then the Being (Angel) from the North (Heavens) comes and tells Dorthy she could have gone home anytime by saying "There is no place like home" which is the desire to be with the ones you love (or God) and by tapping her ruby red (red representing the heart) shoes.

Lest you become like these little ones (munchkins) you shall not enter the kingdom. Heaven will be even greater than Emerald City. Their will be great sights and lots of people. The lost souls will choose to crawl away from God to lonely low places where there is gnashing and gnawing of teeth. Most likely their own teeth. Ultimately fires of hell and loneliness. The weight of the worldly memories and the burden of old false desires will drag them to hell. In the movie and in life there is truth and hope. Finding the true religion with a heart and of the heart will get you home. The true religion that is all about the heart of God.

The films "There's no place like home" is the deepest longing of our souls.
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« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2007, 12:47:01 PM »

Interesting takes on the religious aspect of the story and they do make sense.   However, let me throw this out in a friendly counterpoint manner.  If God (which I'm assuming is the Christian God) is truly represented in the story along with spiritualism, what are people's takes on the selection of witches in the story?  Granted the east and west witches are the embodiment of evil.   Still the North witch is apparently, as already brought up, good and wholesome. I've meet several "good" Christians who think all who practice a pagan religion are breaking the first commandment. Was there a witch of the south and if so why not or what are your feelings on it?

Then again, what if Baum set out to write a story with no meaning rather just a story about witches, munchkins and Kansas?   TeddyR
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« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2007, 12:57:49 PM »

I've meet several "good" Christians who think all who practice a pagan religion are breaking the first commandment. Was there a witch of the south and if so why not or what are your feelings on it?

My uber-religious aunt freaked out when my cousin bought a best of Garth Brooks CD that had Garth on the cover with a crystal ball.   Lookingup
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« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2007, 01:01:50 PM »

Interesting takes on the religious aspect of the story and they do make sense.   However, let me throw this out in a friendly counterpoint manner.  If God (which I'm assuming is the Christian God) is truly represented in the story along with spiritualism, what are people's takes on the selection of witches in the story?  Granted the east and west witches are the embodiment of evil.   Still the North witch is apparently, as already brought up, good and wholesome. I've meet several "good" Christians who think all who practice a pagan religion are breaking the first commandment. Was there a witch of the south and if so why not or what are your feelings on it?

I never read the book, so I'm just interpeting the movie. Baum may have been philosophically somewhere between the Occult and Christianity. He wouldn't have included a good witch of the North had he been a Christian, but then again she had a much different aura about her entirely with the sphere and all. Maybe Baum was just making note that both Angels and Witches use what appears to humans to be majick. The good "witch" has to be considered more deeply. Who and what was she? After all she did send them down the yellow brick road. We also didn't ask to be in this world, but were put here by God. Hasn't God kinda sent us down the yellow brick road? In the end she was an Angel or maybe representing God him/herself.

Then again, what if Baum set out to write a story with no meaning rather just a story about witches, munchkins and Kansas?   TeddyR

Funny how Kansas is also kinda considered "the heartland" of America. Baum is pointing the way.
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