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”.
Griswold, Jerry. "There's No Place But Home: The Wizard of Oz." Antioch Review. Vol. 45, No. 4 (Autumn, 1987), pp. 462-475. 30 November 2008 <http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2097/stable/4611799?&Search=yes&term=%22there%27s+no+place+but+home%22&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3D%2522there%2527s%2Bno%2Bplace%2Bbut%2Bhome%2522%26x%3D0%26y%3D0%26wc%3Don&item=1&ttl=4&returnArticleService=showArticle>.
"There's No Place But Home: The Wizard of Oz," written by Jerry Griswold, outlines the differences between the book and the film versions of The Wizard of Oz and then reflects upon the most significant message found in the film. MGM's production of The Wizard of Oz eliminated L. Frank Baum's obsession with 2's and 4's and offers a more linear narrative structure. Important additions to the film include containing Dorothy's adventure in a dream, the increased presence of the Wicked Witch, and the fusing of two potential mother figures, the Good Witch and the Bad Witch, as a reflection of Auntie Em (Griswold, 468). Most significantly, however, is that in the film, Dorothy desires to go "somewhere over the rainbow," while in Baum's version she is taken away against her wishes. Griswold points this out in order to reflect a common wish to be transported to another place where "troubles melt like lemon drops." Griswold ultimately suggests that notwithstanding one's belief that solutions may be found elsewhere, in reality, one must look within oneself to find the answers. Griswold changes one world in the famous line "there's no place like home" and titles his article "There's No Place But Home." He concludes that "we already have what we [generally] think we lack" (Griswold, 474). The central message of this article is that one must only look within one's self to find what one needs.
Home, and Dorothy's ultimate return to Kansas, is central to understanding The Wizard of Oz in a broader context. Griswold's interpretation supposes that home is not only Dorothy's preference but actually her only option. This is interesting because it leads to the possibility that, in light of the start of World War II in 1939, and the lead-up to the war in the years prior, the film may be a tool to promote an isolationist position. After witnessing the horrors of World War I, most Americans preferred a neutral stance in World War II (until the attack on Pearl Harbor). America looked within itself for answers instead of jumping into the international conflict, just as Griswold suggests that individuals must look within themselves in order to find what they believe they are missing. This may be a slightly bold assertion; however, considering the impending doom of another international crisis in 1939, it is possible that the desire and need for home in the film reflects isolationism, which was supported by most Americans at the time.
Steinfels, Peter. "Following the Yellowbrick Road, and Finding a Spiritual Path." The New York Times, 28 November 2001. Published November 28, 2001. 28 November 2008 <http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2101/us/lnacademic/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T5253876110&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&resultsUrlKey=29_T5253876113&cisb=22_T5253876112&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&selRCNodeID=24&nodeStateId=411en_US,1,23&docsInCategory=65&csi=6742&docNo=17>.
This article offers a religious interpretation of The Wizard of Oz and, further, posits that the film is a direct reflection of traditional American values. Steinfels recounts a speech given at the Convention of the American Academy of Religion during which Dr. Paul Nathanson suggested that Dorothy's journey mirrors a routine religious story about origin and destiny. In the film, Dorothy's adventure is split up into three sections-Kansas, Oz and Kansas-and ultimately she ends up right where she began. Nathanson claimed that Dorothy's homecoming is like the Israelites return to the Promise Land after years of exile. Nathanson also emphasized that while religiosity is not overt in the film, these values are also deeply ingrained in the American tradition. Steinfels explains Nathanson's second assertion which proposes that Dorothy's journey also represents a desire in the United States to return to a traditional, agrarian-based society. In 1939 America was still recovering from political and economic corruption and it is possible that Americans yearned for a more traditional lifestyle, like Dorothy's experience in Kansas.
This article's religious references are interesting because, as Nathanson says, numerous religious values are in fact embedded in traditional American culture. Furthermore, it is likely that many Americans turned to their respective faiths extensively during the Depression, and the years immediately following the disaster. If what Nathanson suggested about Dorothy's journey following a religious storyline is also correct, then it is likely that religious Americans found solace in Dorothy. Americans could identify with her quest and eventual return to Kansas, just as they wished to return to their pre-Depression lifestyles. Notwithstanding the utility of Nathanson's religious references, it seems unlikely that his idea about Americans in 1939 desiring a return to an agrarian society is correct. They may have sought traditional values, family structures and workplaces, but not an eradication of technology. Steinfels' retelling of Nathanson's speech offers insight into the ability of Americans to relate to Dorothy in light of dire economic circumstances. Interestingly, this high level of identification may have also led to the immense success of the film.
Paige, Linda Rohrer. "Wearing the Red Shoes: Dorothy and the power of the female imagination in The Wizard of Oz." Journal of Popular Film and Television. Vol. 23 (Winter 1996). pp. 146-153. 28 November 2008 <http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2659/hww/results/getResults.jhtml?_DARGS=/hww/results/results_common.jhtml.20#record_5>.
Linda Paige's article discusses the Wizard of Oz from a feminist perspective and suggests that the ruby red slippers, which Dorothy inherits from the Wicket Witch of the East, represent the power of the female imagination and the possibility of escaping mainstream, patriarchal society. When Dorothy puts on the slippers and begins her journey down the yellow brick road she is on her way to liberating herself from the traditional, domestic female role, which is reflected through Auntie Em's character. Paige reminds readers that when Dorothy is wearing the slippers she shows her strength and power as a female who has the ability to help her male counterparts find the essential elements of life which they lack. Moreover, Paige suggests that the color red represents passion, and spilled blood, and, as a result, Dorothy's journey in the slippers may be viewed as an act of rebellion against conventional society. However, when Dorothy decides to return home at the end of the film and, in turn, give up the slippers, she succumbs to the comfort of a traditional, male-dominated society.
This article is interesting because is offers an entirely new framework within which to view this classic film. During the 1930's the United States was riddled with unemployment and, as a result, women who went to work were seen as un-American for taking jobs away from unemployed men. In the case of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is "un-American" for attempting to revolt against conventionality and break the shackles of patriarchy. Paige's article coincides with the desire in America to maintain the traditional family because ultimately Dorothy takes off the slippers, leaves her powerful imagination behind, and regresses toward the traditional female role. Dorothy's overt desire to return home, which is exemplified when she clicks her heels and says "there's no place like home" three times, promotes conventional American values and suggests to viewers that the traditional, middle America family is the ideal. Paige's ideas about the slippers and, more importantly, Dorothy's final decision to return to Kansas, accurately reflect sentiments in the United States during the 1930s.
Chris Morris writes this article in August 2001, just as the popularity of the relatively new home video format DVD was starting to gain popularity. Movie titles were released incrementally in this new all-digital format.
Morris writes that the popularity of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane has created a high demand for the film to be released to the new DVD video format. Warner Home had been working on a 60th anniversary release and it was planned for the 25 of September in that same year. This new release was widely expected to be visually and sonically ungraded from the previous releases to home video. Morris writes that Warner, in their attempts to rerelease Citizen Kane, had originally not been able to find a suitable quality source film. RKO’s original camera negatives had been burned in a 1980 vault fire and as a result had also hampered past efforts a restoration. The 1991 VHS release had featured the copy owned by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, however this print had dirt and scratches on it, among other defects. Morris reports, however, that after patient and careful searching, Warner had found a new nitrate fine-grain print in a European archive and that this copy has offered better picture quality and served as an improved audio source. The improved audio quality is very important because the original score had a very high dynamic range. He also reports that the new DVD release would include an interview with Roger Ebert, a 1941 newsreel about the film’s premiere, and the documentary film of the Hearst-Welles conflict, The Battle Over Citizen Kane.
One might think that just like a personal computer user, large Hollywood movie studios would have countless backup copies of their master reels. This seems not to be the case. A fire at a single film vault destroyed RKO’s only master copy. Orson Welles was the recipient of the actual production negatives and his copy was also lost in a fiery accident in the 1970s. By re-mastering and fully digitizing the remaining high quality prints, the data can be stored in numerous locations very inexpensively and very safely. As we learned in class, nitrate has a propensity to catch on fire and is very dangerous in that respect. We also learned in class that Hollywood is usually very slow to adopt new media formats. DVD hit store shelves in mid-1997 yet this movie was released in late 2001, almost 4 years later. The studios might have an excuse in this case – the long and lucky search for a suitable master copy.