I have always loved movies, but it has only been over time that I’ve come to realize that my love for movies is more like an obsession—but the kind of obsession that is healthy– that never wears itself out or eats away its own heart.
As part of the curriculum of my three year Self-Doctorate, I have also included movies: trying to view those classics I have not yet managed to view, revisiting a few movies to see what I think of them now compared to ten or even twenty years ago, and also studying some about the craft of movie making.
Personally, I’ve always had this sense that movies take narrative one step farther than novels or story-telling. I know others passionately disagree, but there is something quite satisfying about seeing stories told through image and sound, about seeing characters “come to life.” Only on a few occasions have I thought, “Wow, what a great book this movie would make!” but I’ve often read a book and wished someone would make it into a movie.
I recently re-watched The Wizard Of Oz. Not bad timing with the cool looking new Oz movie coming out starring James Franco. The Wizard Of Oz holds up pretty well. I do wish they would NOT have put in the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Don’t get me wrong; it’s an amazing song, but I didn’t like its placement in the movie. Also, I think it would’ve been cool to have Kansas black-and-white and prose, whereas the Land Of Oz would be in technicolor and in song! There were several catchy tunes in the movie.
I was impressed by the performances of the actors playing the lion and the scarecrow. These were really knock-out performances. I don’t mean to undercut the Tin Man– just his character wasn’t quite as well drawn as the other two. I was also shocked to discover that Glenda the Good Witch was in her fifties (!) during filming. She was still a beauty.
One thing perplexed me: When I was a child, I was really frightened by the flying monkeys. So when I watched this time, I was really on the look-out for what it was that triggered some primal fear in the child-me. But I just couldn’t see it. I don’t know what it was. But they sure scared the bejeezus out of me back in the day. I do know that the scariest monsters are those that are almost human but not quite. I bet there’s something evolutionary in the deep fear of the almost-human.
There are way too many lines worth quoting from The Wizard Of Oz to even get into those. Few movies could make the claim to have permeated American culture as much as The Wizard Of Oz has. And I mean this in grand scale. This stuff is deeply embedded in the very soul of our society. There’s the Bible, there’s Shakespeare, there are the characters of Dickens… And not far down the ladder is The Wizard Of Oz. I’m being very serious here. Watch it again and be amazed at how much a part of the fabric of our culture this story has become.