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”.
In her article entitled "Social Interaction in Photographing" Halla Beloff suggests that photography is a form of voyeurism. Both the photographer and voyeur are onlookers who have the ability to "peer" into private realms. When one looks at a picture, he is experiencing pleasure akin to that of a voyeur: in both cases the spectator is gaining pleasure from the structural imbalance of the relationship, "we can see them but they can't see us." If film is a logical extension of the still photograph and Beloff's theory is true, then it would seem that filming enhances the experience, and more closely resembles the pleasure of the voyeur.
Although a fictional narrative, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window lends persuasive support to the notion that both the act of filmmaking and the act of spectatorship are essentially forms of voyeurism.. The story of Rear Window revolves L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart), an injured photographer who seeks excitement within the confines of his wheelchair by "watching" his neighbors. Set in a downtown New York apartment complex, with all windows facing a central courtyard, Jefferies believes he witnesses a murder. As spectators the audience finds pleasure in the very same thing that Jefferies does, the act of peering into someone's life, or more simply put "watching." Ultimately, as a film Rear Window suggests that there is something inherently human about the pleasure of watching someone who cannot see you. Contemporary trends in reality television would seem to confirm that the desire to "peep" has become a large market for business to focus on.
Toles, George E. "Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window as Critical Allegory." boundary 2 16. 2/3, (1989): 225-245.
Palmer, Barton R. "The Metafictional Hitchcock: The Experience of Viewing and the Viewing of Experience in 'Rear Window' and 'Psycho'." Cinema Journal 25. 2, (1986): 4-19.
Barton Palmer's essay "The Metafictional Hitchcock" analyzes the role of spectatorship in Rear Window and suggets that L.B. Jefferies is representative of much more than just a voyeur. To Palmer "the narrative process traces what we might, instead, term Jeff's refusal of the role of the spectator, a role defined by what is often simplistically termed a suspension of disbelief."
No only is "Rear Window" a narrative about voyeurism, but also one that investigates the dimensions of fantasy and reality. Cohen, Paula Marantz. "The Daughter's Effect: Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much." Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1995. 99-123.
Hurley, Neil P. "Soul in Suspense." Soul in Suspense: Hitchcock's Fright and Delight. New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, 1993. 189-200.
Conrad, Peter. "Crimes of the Camera." The Hitchcock Murders. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2000. 193-209.
Leitch, Thomas M. "Home Free All." Find the Director and Other Hitchcock Games. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. 165-189.
In Maurizio Viano’s academic piece on Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, he first outlines the film’s controversial reception. He notes that harsher reviewers such as Gerald Peary objected by using moral intimidation. Moreover, their objections stem from a high-brow cultural objection that attempts to scoff at blockbuster hits.
Viano celebrates Benigni’s use of comedy as a means of “reframing topical issues through the subversive lens of laughter.” Instead Viano believes that the critics are too concerned with rejecting the slapstick nature of the comedy which they believe defaces the memory of the Holocaust. Instead, Benigni’s comedy, stemming from earlier works, makes the film more accessible.
Viano further discusses the film’s use of allegory. He divides the film into two sections, the first being Guido’s courtship of Dora and the second being the concentration camp scenes, both bound together by the overriding “rules” of fairytale and realism suggesting that we “regard even the worst of nightmares as parts of a dream.” Moreover, Viano points to film’s usage of the idea of German philosopher Schopenhauer, who had a great influence on the Nazi regime. He suggests that threads of his “will-to-live” theories put an ironic twist on the film.
Viano concludes by making an argument for Benigni’s Life is Beautiful clarifying that the film’s “serious” comedy does not laugh at the Holocaust but “against its deadening weight.”
Truffaut introduces his compilation of a series of interview with Hitchcock with an anecdote in which he silences a critic of Rear Window who claimed he couldn't see Rear Window's flaws because he was not from New York City. Truffaut responded by saying "Rear Window is not about Greenwich Village, it is a film about cinema, and I do know cinema."
This anecdote applies to Lifeboat and author Steinbeck's dislike of the final material. He criticized the fallacy of things like one man rowing the whole lifeboat, failing to acknowledge the cinematic and symbolic implications this has for Willy's percieved control over the other suvivors.
In the interview, Hitchcock says Lifeboat was an effort to test his theory that psycological films contained mostly close-ups or two/three-shots. He saught to find an environment that would force a director to shoot mostly those shots. This close-up style was later adopted by television, mainly due to the smaller screen size and not the psycological implications.
Hitchcock also here discusses his version of the allegory. He confrims that it is soley about the war (contradicting statements made by the producer). Kovac represented the communist way of dealing with the Nazis. He was the most vocal opponent to the captain, much in the same way early American Anti-Nazi Leagues had strong communist ties. Rittenhouse symbolized the Facist who is eager to give up control of the ship in a tumultous time to a dictator, much in the same way certain parts of society were, including the wealthy, eager to keep the status quo, and saw a dictator Roosevelt as their best hope.