July 17, 2008

Random Musing: The Wizard of Oz


I just received quite a DVD for a gift - "The Wizard of Oz" 3-disc collector's edition. Though I have never been a diehard fan like some people I have met, I do recognize the film's status as a classic and legend, and I always enjoy it. I think part of the wonder of the film is its flight into fairy tale - a magical land of witches of all cardinal directions, wizards with great powers, and yellow brick roads somewhere over the rainbow. In fact, it is quite a wonder to realize and consider how much "The Wizard of Oz" has contributed to pop culture and entertainment in general; today we can see "Wicked" on Broadway, purchase endless trinkets of Oz memorabilia, or enjoy CDs of any fill-in-the-blank singer who has recorded another version of Judy Garland's iconic "Over the Rainbow." Despite my own understanding and interpretation of "The Wizard of Oz" as a magical family classic, it has only recently been brought to my attention that apparently some scholars think differently... In fact, some scholars have applied a political aspect to the enduring film that so many people have come to love and appreciate.
Written at the turn of the century, L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" claims its intention is "solely to please children of today." On the other hand, scholars seem to have uncovered relevant American turn-of-the-century political symbolism for the book's (and film's) characters: Dorothy is the "everyman," the munchkins are ordinary citizens, the Scarecrow is the farmer, the Tin Man is the industrial worker, and the Wizard is a McKinley- or Roosevelt-like figure. While I had never thought of this interpretation, it makes a great deal of sense. Is it the real interpretation Baum had prepared in his mind when writing "The Wizard of Oz"? Perhaps not, and probably not if he says it is not at the introduction to his book. Does any of this make a viable scholarly contention? Of course. It is fascinating to think about, but as for me, it is something I almost want to forget again... Who needs political interpretation when you can be somewhere over the rainbow trying to get home to Kansas again.

1 comment:

Buzz Stephens said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, this week, over at Yahoo's The Judy Garland Experience, they are featuring never released performances from Judy's 1969 stint at The Talk Of The Town, as well as a recording from her 1966 engagement at The Diplomat Hotel, a phone call between Judy Garland and Wayne Martin, and a few other rarities, including a salute to Judy's early 50's radio appearances.
The non Judy items posted include a never before heard club set form Martha Raye, and much more!
The Judy Garland Experience is one of the more popular Garland groups. Every week it features new and never before heard recordings by Judy and her contemporaries. There are always lively discussions going on, and the group has one of the most eclectic memberships anywhere. Included in the member rolls are Garland family members and friends, people who worked with Judy, authors, film makers, other celebrities, and fans of all levels. The only one missing is you!
Please stop by our little Judyville and check it out, you may never want to leave.
Here is the link:
http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/thejudygarlandexperience/