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.
The chapter entitled “Fighting Words” discusses Charlie Chaplin’s intentions for his film “The Great Dictator”. The film was Chaplin’s first sound film. Not wanting to alter his classic silent ‘tramp’ character, Charlie found the opportunity in this entry into sound to preserve his beloved character and talk to his audience for the first time. “As Hitler I could harangue the crowds in jargon and talk all I wanted to,” wrote Charlie in his autobiography. “A Hitler story was an opportunity for burlesque and pantomime.” Charlie exposed Hynkel (representing Hitler) in exactly this fashion. For most of the film, Hynkel’s words amount to nothing more than gibberish. When the dictator speaks intelligibly, the audience still senses malevolent babble.
The chapter supports the thesis as it illustrates Chaplin’s intentions to mock Hitler his film. It also demonstrates the striking contrast between the dictator and the barber. The dictator appears foolish as a result of Chaplin’s work while the barber remains relatively silent and pure (until the end). After developing these distinct characters for two hours, Charlie utilizes his first sound film to let out his own voice in the final speech, bashing hate and calling the soldiers to unite in the name of democracy and peace.
Mast, Gerald. The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973.
In the Chapter “Chaplin: Sound Films”, Gerald Mast analyses a few of the comedic moments in Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” and how this comedy effectively criticizes the Nazi regime. Mast compares Hynkel’s globe scene (see tag on World War II and the American Film) to the scene immediately following of the barber shaving a customer. Mast discusses the ridiculous slapstick nature of the globe scene and the fast yet precise nature of the shaving scene and illustrates the contrast between the dictators fixation on world domination to the barbers human work. Mast also refers to Hynkel’s ludicrous speeches in which the dictator flails his arms about wildly and barks so vehemently the microphone cracks and seems to melt in his hands. During these speeches, Hynkel pauses intermittently to pour water down his blazing throat and down his pants.
This chapter directly supports the thesis as it demonstrates how Chaplin utilizes slapstick comedy to attack the Nazi regime. The succession of the globe scene to the shaving scene demonstrates how the barber succeeds where the dictator fails. Additionally, the contrast is made more stiking as the barber succeeds in the shave using a sharp blade, while the dictator's dellusion of grandeur comes to a crashing halt as the globe of the world explodes in his face. Mast also conjectures the Hynkel’s “wet” speech scene reveals how Hynkel’s private parts are burning as much as his throat suggesting that the Nazi propaganda has more to do with sexual energy and gibberish than with meaningful ideas.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1993.5.U6 A8574 2006
This chapter directly supports the thesis as it demonstrates how Chaplin effectively uses humor to criticize the Nazi regime. The reshaped statues are an exceptional example of Chaplin’s skill in demonstrating the pollution of the Third Reich on all aspects of German life. Chaplin masterfully deforms the Nazi swastika into a double cross. This use of a switched object indicates Hitler’s betrayal of Germany.
Gilman, Sander. "Is Life Beautiful? Can the Shoah Be Funny? Some Thoughts on Recent and Older Films". Critical Inquiry, Vol. 26 No. 2. (Winter, 2000): 279-30.
There has been a good deal of debate regarding how filmmakers and other artists should represent the Shoah (Holocaust). In this article, Sander Gilman discusses how the Shoah has been represented in the arts, focusing on comedy and film. Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Great Dictator” uses comedy to attack the Third Reich and to represent the beginnings of the Shoah. Gilman asks whether the terror during of the Shoah and the Nazi regime can be understood through such comedy. “The Great Dictator” was one of the first comic films to deal with the Nazis and their treatment of the Jews. While the film touches on the initial stages of the Shoah, it was made before the real horror and genocide began; the satire’s main target is the Nazi Regime. Gilman asserts that laughter is appropriate in films like “The Great Dictator” that deal with the Nazi regime as the enemy, leaving out the horrors of the Holocaust. In effect, this targeted treatment of the regime assures the viewer that they are stronger than the Nazis.
This article agrees with the thesis as it argues that the use of comedy in “The Great Dictator” effectively undermines the Nazi regime. More than that, Gilman addresses one of the principal criticisms of the film, namely the incompatibility of laughter and the events of the Holocaust. Critics often claim that the use of comedy in the film lessens the horrors that took place. Viewing “The Great Dictator” today may give us this impression. However, as Gilman discusses, Chaplin was ignorant of the extent of Nazi terror simply because the film was produced pre-Shoah. Indeed, post World War II, Chaplin asserted that “had I known of the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.” In the historical context of the film’s production, the film accurately and effectively utilizes laughter to challenge the Third Reich.
Silver’s article agrees with the thesis as it demonstrates how Chaplin effectively utilizes his classic comedy to seize the attention of his audience. Critics often attack Chaplin for the speech scene. Lewis Jacobs (see tag for World War II and the American Film) shows how these commentator believe that the scene spoils the continuity of the film. Silver discredits this notion of chaotic filmmaking and demonstrates how Chaplin precisely utilizes such pauses to communicate his antifascist message.
Mann’s article counters the thesis as it criticizes the effectiveness of Chaplin’s comedy to communicate its ultimate anti-Nazi message. The characterization of the film as unstructured and lacking continuity is his main blow to the “The Great Dictator”. As previously argued in this project, these abrupt shifts from comedy to seriousness do not lessen but rather significantly enhance the value of the film. By providing his audience with engaging comedic amusement, Chaplin is able to capitalize on a wholly attentive audience by quickly infusing his anti-fascist message. Further, Mann’s criticism of Chaplin’s failure to exhibit the extent of Hitler’s evil is correct when the film is viewed from a postwar point of view. However, it is important to note that during the film’s production in the 1930’s, the most appalling crimes have yet to take place, accounting for Chaplin’s perhaps too lenient depiction of the dictator.
Jacobs, Lewis. “World War II and the American Film.” Cinema Journal 7 (Winter, 1967-1968): 1-21.
This essay agrees with the thesis as it demonstrates how Chaplin’s depiction of the dictator Hynkel demonstrates Hitler’s madness and vulnerability. The globe scene is perhaps the most memorable of such scenes ridiculing Hitler. The scene begins with Hynkel hanging in the air from window curtains like a paranoid squirrel in a tree. He then clears the room and a love scene ensues between the dictator and a globe of the world. Hynkel caresses the globe, laughing wildly, and roaring unintelligibly about ruling the world. The lunacy continues as Hynkel slow dances with the globe in hand delicately tossing it in the air. As the scene comes to a close, the air filled globe explodes in Hynkel’s face and the dictator breaks out into tears. This scene demonstrates Chaplin’s effective use of visual comedy to mock the Nazi leader and to exhibit his inevitable demise.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.P6 G53 1998
In the Chapter entitled "The Movies and World War II", Gianos discusses the strong isolationist sentiments in the United States during the late 1930’s. With the Great Depression and the horrific images World War I still in clear hindsight, the United States was not ready to enter a new war, especially one that was thousands of miles away. College students and American families vehemently formed committees to stay out of the latest world conflict. The film industry adopted similar antiwar sentiments. In particular, Hollywood feared that films depicting the conflicts abroad might offend German and Italian audiences. Joseph Breen, head of the production code, helped to dispel filmmakers’ interest in the European tensions. Charlie Chaplin was among the first to criticize the Nazis on film in The Great Dictator, in which Chaplin fervently attacks the fascist regime.
This chapter is relevant to the thesis as it depicts how the isolationist feelings affected the film industry in the prewar United States. The article illustrates Chaplin’s bold treatment of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany (through the veils of Adenoid Hynkel and Tomania). The final scene of the film in which the barber makes a speech to “fight for liberty” clearly demonstrates Chaplin’s call to end the United States isolationism to fight Hitler’s fascist regime. For the time, Chaplin is unconventionally courageous.
Call#: Van Pelt Library E744 .J65
America’s passing of the Neutrality Act causes a declared foreign policy of not becoming involved in any way in either the impending war in Europe or the resistance of China against Japanese aggressors. This policy has been the historical one for the United States, which has tried to stay out of most foreign conflicts. This policy however does not speak to the hearts and minds of the American people. While the majority of the American public may be against war, they have still taken sides in their hearts against the dictatorship aggressors, and support the European democracies of Britain and France, and China in the East.
While Casablanca takes place after 1938, Rick Blaine represents the same America that is shown in this editorial. In order for him to personally survive in Casablanca, he must remain neutral and isolated. However in his heart, he has strong ties to pre-Vichy France as represented in Ilsa. The movie shows Rick’s transformation as a parallel to America’s, but this article shows how Rick represents America at the beginning of the movie.
America, like Rick, does not want to risk being involved in a war, but their outward policies do not reflect there beliefs and ties. Americans want to support the democracies but at the same time have a strong self-preserving desire to stay uninvolved. This form of isolationism is represented in Casablanca as an allegorical film about America.
Call#: Van Pelt Library E744 .P68 1991
After America’s short period of neutrality and isolation at the beginning of World War II, President Roosevelt used subtle steps to help bring the United States into the war without going against public opinion and flat out declaring war. Through revision’s to the Neutrality Act to support European democracies with arms, supplying Britain with Destroyers, and instituting the Lend-Lease programs Roosevelt and the United States supported Britain in its war against the Axis powers. Like Rick Blaine in Casablanca who ended up helping the Resistance movement by giving Lazlo visas to exit Casablanca against Nazi orders, American policies during a time of declared neutrality gave crucial aid to the soon to become Allied forces.
Roosevelt could not openly declare war on Germany because American public opinion mirrored Rick who would “stick [his] neck out for nobody.” Direct involvement meant sending American troops into battle with certain casualties. Roosevelt defended his actions by saying that all the steps were necessary to protect the national security of the United States against the threat of attacks by the Axis powers. Rick justifies helping Lazlo because he realizes that Nazi control of Casablanca will eventually destroy him no matter if he stays neutral. Both America and Rick have strong moral and ideological ties to the Allies and under the guise of protecting themselves, they both end up reversing their hard-line policies of neutrality and help provide support against the Nazis.