I watched “The Wizard of Oz” last week for the gazillionth time. It’s a great movie, and it takes me back to my younger dinosaur-era days when my sister and I would try and finagle an invitation to watch the telecast with a friend who had one of those newfangled color TVs so we could catch the transformation when Dorothy opened the door into Munchkinland.
The movie has held up through Technicolor and LCD and plasma and Blu-ray, but watching it as a semi-jaded adult, I couldn’t help but notice a few holes in the plot. Maybe it’s just me, but if I had been bamboozled into doing battle with a wicked witch by what turned out to be a powerless phony behind a techno mask, I would not have taken it very well. In today’s world, Dorothy would have returned to Kansas and hauled the Wizard into court, sued for damages for the pain and suffering experienced by a person who is hoisted over the trees by flying monkeys. And when Dorothy found out that Glinda, Miss Pink and Perfect, knew the ruby slippers possessed the power to two-click Dorothy home before she ever hit the first yellow brick and didn’t tell her, well, there’s not a jury in this world that would convict Dorothy if she pulled Glinda’s big old spikey tiara right down around her crunchy crinolines. “You wouldn’t have believed me, my dear”? Yeah, well, tell it to the judge.
Personally, I might have stayed in Munchkinland anyway. The Wicked Witch of the West had no power there. The people seemed friendly, and Dorothy had already been accorded a bust in the hall of fame. If she had stayed on, she would have been a national hero, written her memoirs and gone on a speaking tour, maybe even have been declared the Wizardess of Munchkinland. That’s how the Great and Powerful Oz got his job, right?
Of course, if Dorothy had stayed in Munchkinland, she would never have met the Scarecrow or the Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion, and that would have been a loss. The four of them made a great team–five if you count Toto, and I think you should. He was the reason Dorothy ran away in the first place, and in the end, they all supported each other, pooled their strengths and overcame their weaknesses.
But of course, Dorothy had to go back. She thought Aunt Em was sick, and love is stronger than all the flying monkeys in the world.
During the adventure, Dorothy discovered that she had brains and courage as well as heart. She met talking trees, for heaven’s sakes. So how is it that her conclusion at the end of the movie was that if she couldn’t find happiness in her own backyard then it didn’t really exist for her in the first place?
Which brings me to another important point. When Dorothy got back to Kansas, we see Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and the friendly (and bumbling and cowardly) farmhands, but where was Elvira Gulch? Did she survive the twister? Would she be storming back into the farmyard any minute with her dog basket in her hand?
I hope not. I hope the cyclone softened Miss Gulch a little, melted her heart, if you will. If not, I hope Uncle Henry and Aunt Em got their gumption up and told Miss Gulch to pedal (and peddle) her fear somewhere else. Life is not all black and white, my friends.
I worry about these things, even in Blu-ray.