Bates, Laura Raidonis. "Sweet Sorrow": The Universal Theme of Separation in Folklore and Children's Literature. The Lion and the Unicorn 31.1 (2007) 48-64. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2007
In this article, Laura Bates looks at a common storyline for females in fairytales: separation, trials/tests, and reunion. In it she examines six stories: “Hansel & Gretel”, “The Juniper Tree”, “The Deserted Children”, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Peter Pan”. She argues against the idea that women are portrayed weakly in fairy tales only to be saved by a prince Charming. Alternatively, in these stories the women not only successfully take care of themselves, but often take care of others as well. The men become dependent on the women. In the tales, the first stage of the story is separation. Sometimes the separation is caused by the parents as in Hansel and Gretel, but sometimes the separation is due to the child’s action as in The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan. The next stage of the story is a quest or a trial. Girls often initially respond with fear or tears, as would be expected from society for a young girl. However, they always have to summon some sort of inner strength to overcome obstacles. Dorothy’s quest is to follow the Yellow Brick Road to eventually return home. Her quest is both psychological and physical. She discovers things about herself she didn’t realize such as her courage and empathy. The last stage of the story is the homecoming and reunion. Bates states that homecoming is a natural desire that stems from separation, but it is not a guaranteed outcome. In Dorothy’s case, she vanquished the wicked witch and discovered (with the help of Toto) the deception of the Wizard. However, we learn that Dorothy didn’t really need to do those things and perhaps all she needed was the ability to believe in herself.
This common theme in stories is important because it must help lend to their popularity. The common stages of separation, quest, and reunion are seen time and time again and thus must contain some quality that is attractive to the mass audience. In this sense, this aspect of the Wizard of Oz can also help lend to its popularity. The question, however, remains as to why such storylines are favored. It is perhaps due to the general idea of female empowerment that people enjoy. Alternatively, Bates suggests that gender roles allow female lead characters to incorporate magical beings into the story because females embrace their natural surroundings, while males separate themselves from it. Humans may have an innate desire and fascination with magic and thus these types of stories allow them to be incorporated. Whatever the reason, Dorothy surely goes through the three stages identified by Bates, and shows that a girl can be just as heroic as anyone else.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1997.W593 S19 2004b
In this chapter of the book, Scarfone details “the aftereffects” of the film. He describes it as more than I visual treat, but more of a human document. It left with us a timeless song, “Over the Rainbow” and was nominated for several Oscars including Best Picture. The movie influenced many films later. Most directly, and most blatantly is the film The Blue Bird starring Shirley Temple. Other films subtlety copied aspects of the film such as in Abbott and Costello’s Jack and the Beanstalk the movie begins in sepia tone and switches to color. Oz is one of the few events in our popular culture that people have experienced together over generations. Scarfone states that we can all share the humor of its familiarity, whether it be a parody on Saturday Night Live or a punch line in a comic strip. Some have said that every film made since The Wizard of Oz contains some reference to it. Scarfone finds this improbable, but thinks that the story leaves an imprint in every movie makers mind. He gives a number of examples of movies that pay homage to the film some of which are the following: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Toy Story, Good Morning, Vietnam, Twister, and Jumanji. Scarfone ends by saying that the film not only sustains but continues to influence film today. It is a reminder that even with primitive special effects, “believability is in the eye of the beholder”.
This chapter in the book about the “wizadry of oz” details the lasting effect this film had on the movie industry. The book details all aspects of the film from the make-up to the set design to the marketing. All had a hand in making the film what it became, and what it became was a social phenomena that continues to play a role in Hollywood and Society. No other film has had such mass appeal and had such influence on so many subsequent films in history. The Wizard of Oz reminds me of a classical American business tactic of copying what is successful. In 1999, trying to capitalize on the success of Who wants to be a Millionaire?, almost every studio created a new game show on primetime TV. Similarly in 2002, trying to capitalize on the success of American Idol every studio produced some new talent program. However, just The Wizard of Oz, nothing can compare to the original. Its features can be emulated, but the effect it has had on the world can never be recreated. Although originally just another production in MGM’s movie making engine, it has stood out as one film that will forever awe the world.
Schallert, Edward. "Fairy Tale of Oz Called Milestone in Fantasy" Los Angeles Times 16 August, 1939, A18. ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986). ProQuest.
This is a review of the premier of The Wizard of Oz. It starts and ends with praise and has Schallert has no doubt it will have worldwide appeal. He claims even with all the “to do” of a premiere, the film exceeded his every expectation. He praises it as original and not what he has come to know as the formulaic Hollywood. He likes the use of the color because it adds meaning to the story. He thinks MGM’s choice of actors was superb. He likes the story and the films ability to have him “rooting for Dorothy”. He admires the technical feat and comments that it finally challenges Disney. He then continues to compliment everyone he thinks deserves praise in making such a great movie.
This is a review of the movie right when it came out and Schallert seemed to love it. I think its important to note that the majority of the review doesn’t spend time focusing on the technical genius of the film, which is something that could potentially be outdated. Additionally, it is important to note that much of the use of the “technology” was to the advantage of the story of the film. For example, the film was one of the first shot in color and used the Technicolor Process. This process tended to over exaggerate the colors on screen and made things seem almost unreal. This worked perfectly for the film because while Kansas was shot in black and white with a sepia tone, it was Oz that was shot in color. This “unrealistic color” lent itself to the idea that Oz was a fantasy land. Also the limited ability in special effects allowed for the melting of the witch to be lighter hearted and less gruesome. In essence, the story benefited from the limited technology of the time, rather than being hindered by it. Additionally, something briefly touched on in this article was that this story is one of the only fairy tales completely American in origin, which may not lend to its international popularity, but certainly can help give Americans a sense of pride when the watch it (which inevitably makes them like the film more)
Griswold, Jerry. There's No Place but Home: The Wizard of Oz, The Antioch Review, Vol. 45, No. 4, The Romance of Toughness (Autumn, 1987), pp. 462-475
In this article, Jerry Griswold begins with an argument that it is people’s fascination with the Land of Oz that helps the story’s popularity. Many people view Oz as a utopian dream. Oz supports such heavenly ideals such freedom of the individual, voluntary acceptance of responsibility, the equal enjoyment of work and play, the folly of war, the need for sharing, and more. However, upon closer examination he likens Oz to the United States, where the land to the west is comparable to California, the lakes to the North could potentially be Michigan lakes, etc. Some scholars have suggested that Oz is simply California, and the fact that Baum had moved to California and called his home “Ozcot” reaffirms those thoughts. Griswold then goes into talking about how the story cannot be attributed to Baum alone, as it has become a folktale told over and over again, always slightly different. He examines the major differences between the original novel, and the famous 1939 film, which he decides are the two most famous telling of the story. While there are several differences, Griswold concludes that they both tell the same tale. He then proceeds to compare Oz and American life. He states that Dorothy wants to escape her life in Kansas away from Ms. Gulch who wants to kill Toto, but at the end, all she wants to do is be back home. This is because the truth is everything we need is already home. Griswold states that, “Kansas has always been Oz”.
This article is important for several reasons. First, it is the relationship of Oz to America. He mentions in the article that “immigrants think that the roads are paved of gold, only to find out they are painted yellow.” At this time, and still today, America is land of opportunity where anything is possible. He gives the example of anyone becoming President, which is now truer than ever. The comparison of Oz to America is true in the sense that America too, values the ideal in Oz. Second, his mention into the folklore of the story is important because by the very definition of folklore, we know that it means that this is a story for the common person. This is who it has its widest appeal to. Third, the message it is trying to portray is important also. In Dorothy’s desire to escape, she seemingly travels to this mystical Land of Oz However, as the film goes forward; we are reminded that we don’t need to go to Oz to make our dreams come true. If we look and work hard enough, all of our dreams are right at home. As Dorothy realizes, “There is no place like home”.
Arthur Milliers View 'Oz' With Varied Reactions
THE TIMES ART CRITIC AND FAMILY
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Aug 28, 1939; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986)
This is a Los Angeles Times article written right when the movie was released in theaters. It is unique in movie reviews that it is a review by an entire family: David, Mojave, Joyce, Arthur Jr., Mom, and Dad. They each seemed to like a different aspect of the film. David enjoyed the Lion character the most. Mojave liked the Munchkins and felt like she was experiencing the story with Dorothy. Joyce thought it was good fairytale and liked the settings as well as Judy Garland. Arthur enjoyed watching a movie about his favorite film. Mom liked that there were no guns and little violence. Dad was impressed by all the makeup used.
This article is important because it emphasizes the wide appeal of the movie. It is one of those few movies that whole families can watch, and enjoy together. Although everyone was entertained by a different aspect or a different character, they all liked some aspect of the film. It displays its ability to combine so many different things to provide entertainment for everyone. Although reactions may be different today, the story remains the same. A father may no longer be impressed by the costumes since time has brought much more elaborate costumes to films, but perhaps he is still blown away by Judy Garland’s voice or maybe he has an appreciation of the technological achievement when put in its’ time period. In another article I have from 2002, we see that 7.9 million people watched the film, which is concrete evidence that the film is not becoming outdated anytime soon.
Langford, Glenn. "Who's who in the land of Oz". Philosophy, Vol. 54, No. 207 (Jan., 1979), pp. 118-121, Cambridge University Press
In this philosophy piece by Glenn Langford, he raises the question of whether the Tin Man is considered to be alive and goes further to ask what it actually means to be alive. Firstly, if something seems to be living, then we consider it to be alive. Secondly, humans provide behavioral requirements to consider something living. He raises the point that, if something appeared to be a man and was considered alive, but upon closer inspection as found to be mechanical, it might still be considered alive, but just not a man. The tin man seems to satisfy the behavioral requirements for being alive as he can think, speak, and act. He brings up the subject of personal identity and the idea of one’s memories. If one things he is alive, and a man, then he must surely be a man and alive. If a man is to be a man, he must have the knowledge of being a man, or in other words he must know who he is. The author assumed that it is important to have a strong sense of personal identity, and yet he concedes that in Oz it may not be as important as knowing who your friends are.
This is important in the film because, as in any fantasy, so much of the movie and the characters require the viewer to suspend their sense of reality. The question of where the Tin Man comes from, or the scarecrow, or the lion is not all that important. What is important in the film is that they display human qualities, whether or not they are considered to be human or alive. Equally of importance is the relationship the three of them have with each other and with Dorothy. I think this is symbolic of another important message of the movie. It does not necessarily matter where you came from or where you’ve been. What’s important is where you are going and who you are. One cannot change the past, only the future. It is true that one’s memory helps give them a sense of personal identity, but it is not required to be one’s only source of personal identity. This is similar to the idea of a hope for a better tomorrow.
Littlefield, Henry M. The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism. American Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 1964), pp. 47-58 The Johns Hopkins University Press
In this journal article, Henry Littlefield reflects on why The Wizard of Oz is so popular. He mentions that nobody really knows why. The book never received any critical acclaim or examination. Littlefield argues that in order to understand the Wizard, you must understand the original author, L. Frank Baum. He was raised in Syracuse and later moved to South Dakota with his wife. He was in South Dakota during the formation of the Populist Party. Although to most it is just a warm fairytale Littlefield sees more. He sees Oz as a magic oasis with struggles of good vs. evil. He sees Dorothy as the “Miss Everyman”, one of us. He argues the Scarecrow is representative of a commonview thought of the people of Kansas, brainless. The Lion symbolizes, William Jennings Bryan, the populist presidential candidate of the time, who is not able to make an impression on the populist people he is running to represent. The Wizard, he claims, represents the presidency’s of Mckinley, Cleveland, and Harrison. They are a fraud and hide behind this big machine charade.
While Baum denies any sort of allegory and claims only to have written a fun book for children to enjoy, I think whether or not these characters are really symbolic of what Littlefield argues is immaterial. It is the idea, the sense, that the story is relatable and could potentially represent these things. Similarly, the when the film was produced in 1939 during the Great Depression, the allegory could essentially be the same, with a slightly different taste. Even fast forwarding to today, we could make the argument that the Wizard is “Wall Street” while Dorothy represents “Main Street”. In everyday human existence, there is some struggle of good vs. evil. Similarly there is always a “Wizard” out there who hides his true nature. For those who choose to read into it, the film could mean anything and everything. However, for those who don’t, the story can be a lighthearted entertaining fairytale with a happy ending. As Littlefield says, Baum “never allowed the consistency of the allegory to take precedence over the theme of youthful entertainment”.
de Moraes, Lisa. "A Thanksgiving Tradition: Having 'Friends' Over" The Washington Post. 27 November 2002. Lexis Nexis.
This article gives information on the popularity of several shows during the week of Thanksgiving in 2002. The most watched show was the “Friends” Thanksgiving episode. The annual showing of “The Wizard of Oz” on Thanksgiving received 7.9 million views and handed WB its largest Sunday audience ever.
While on the surface uninformative, this article points to something central to “The Wizard of Oz”‘s undying popularity: tradition. Beyond the pure story itself, “The Wizard of Oz” evokes so much more because of its annual viewing on Thanksgiving in the United States every year. People are reminded of being with family, good food, and potentially even growing up. Many people have watched the film every year with their family during Thanksgiving since they were children. This article points to the fact the viewership is anything but down, with 7.9 million people watching the film in 2002, 63 years after its original release. This small, but very important point could play a key, if not central role, into the films continued popularity. However, there is of course reverse causality. One should bring up the question as to why studios continue (or even decided in the first place) to show the film every year on Thanksgiving. There are plenty of movies that could potentially be shown instead and studios could have created an “alternative tradition”. So why “The Wizard of Oz”? The reason probably lies in the uniqueness of the story being so family-friendly, while having deep themes central to human existence. While probably difficult to test, it is this aspect that started the annual screening, while the creation of this American tradition has boosted his popularity and will probably continue to ensure the film will be watched by each generation to come.
Nathanson, Paul. Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a secular myth of America. SUNY Press, 1991
This book is written by Dr. Paul Nathanson and entitled, “Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America”. Dr. Nathanson believes that the story is comparable to the religious view that human beings have been exiled from the Garden of Eden or the Promised Land and are on a long tumultuous journey of finding it back. He attributes its enormous popularity as people attributing it to some kind of secular myth. In 1939, a “golden year” for Hollywood, America was still in the midst of its depression and people needed stories of hope. However, as time went on and we left the Depression, the film remained very popular. Nathanson argues that the film created a sense of security for people.He goes on to make a political and social commentary on the state of America and how it has lost its way. He warns that Americans have constantly looked for quick solutions to complex problems, but this is not the way.
When we are first introduced to the Wizard in the movie, it seems to allude to this idea that technology and computers were sought after for the answers to problems. If this was a common idea in 1939 it is even more prevalent today. People are more dependent on technology today than ever and people are constantly looking for it to solve its problems. In the midst of the financial crisis, we hear corporations cutting costs through technological integration. This, they think, is one way out of our current economic mess. Nathanson insight into the stories allure in proposing that The Wizard of Oz may provide for the secular, what religion provides for the religious. This is mainly the ideas of hope for a better tomorrow or a return to the “promised land”. In addition it is a reminder to society that there is almost never an easy solution, although the solution to your problems may be closer in hand than you might think.
Baumann, Steven. "Wisdom, Compassion, and Courage in The Wizard of Oz: A Humanbecoming Hermeneutic Study" Nursing Science Quarterly, Volume 21 Number 4, October 2008, 322-329, 2008 Sage Publications
This article is a humanbecoming hermeutic study of The Wizard of Oz, which concludes with an application of the story and its lessons to the profession of nursing. The humanbecoming school of thought depends on the notion that humans are indivisible, unpredictable, and ever-changing. The goal is to study lived human experiences captured in works of art. The article argues that the Wizard of Oz captures wisdom, compassion, and courage. The process in which they study the work involves becoming completely engaged in it, from constantly listening to the soundtrack, watching the movie innumerable times, and reading the book several times over. The intense immersion is argued to bring new and deeper meanings to the story. They find that courage, compassion, and wisdom are displayed through Dorothy, as well as the scarecrow, tin man, and lion. While the scarecrow claims not to have a brain, he is able to speak and make intelligent comments. It is not until the Wizard helps him to realize though that he has had a brain all along. Similarly, Dorothy had the ability to go home all along; she just needed to learn how to use it. While the tin-man claims not to have a heart, it is his emotional moaning that leads Dorothy to find him in the first place. Finally, while the lion claims not to have courage, the wizard argues that he has wisdom to stay out of danger. The conclusion for the audience is the discovery that wisdom, courage, and compassion are always a part of the human life.
This article is very on point in discovering or answering the core of my question. Written for nursing students, the goal of the article was to explore ways for nurses to become better people and have better relationships with their patients. In doing so, they helped to answer some questions of why the film the Wizard of Oz is so entertaining still today, over 50 years later. In somewhat of an irony I think, this type of study assumes that humans are always changing, and yet these experiences with courage, compassion, and wisdom seem to be static themes in human lives. Another briefly mentioned theme is the idea of hope and there is always a better place. This study explores how important hope is in human lives and how we can really relate to Dorothy’s experience in Oz. In addition, it is a story of discovery of the meaning of three qualities integral in a person’s life: courage, wisdom, and compassion.