Monday, November 14, 2011

The Truth Behind The Wizard Of Oz, As I See It…

As a kid I watched The Wizard of Oz every year without fail.  It was my favorite movie and held my interest even after I had most of the lines committed to memory and would recite them with the characters.  But as you watch a movie over and over, you begin to see things you missed, you start to question things you took for granted and you don’t see it with the same innocence you did when you were younger.  As my keen sense of skepticism grew and my cynical attitude took shape, my views on The Wizard of Oz and the characters changed.

At first I took everything in the story at face value: poor lost Dorothy, a bad witch trying to kill her for a pair of shoes, a good witch looking out for her and protecting her and three helpful friends who had nothing better to do than go to Oz with her.  But, that is not how I saw it years later.  

First of all, Dorothy and Toto weren’t so innocent.  Dorothy passed by Miss Gulch’s place every day before Toto actually bit her.  It was only after Miss Gulch came to take the dog away did Dorothy promised to go home a different way.  That is what started this whole mess in the first place.  And Toto wasn’t on a leash!

Now in the dream, Dorothy’s house lands on the wicked witch of the east’s house, killing her instantly.  The opportunistic “good witch” Glinda immediately puts the shoes on Dorothy’s feet and convinces her to keep them.  The Wicked Witch of the West is pretty damned upset.  First her sister has been killed and people everywhere are celebrating and singing and dancing.  It’s only natural she would be upset.  Then she finds out that her sister’s only possession, a pair of red shoes, has been taken and placed on Dorothy’s feet.  The Wicked Witch is the only heir and rightfully should have gotten the ruby slippers, but the Good Witch basically stole them and gave them to Dorothy…so much for good witches.  

The Good Witch, Glinda, is very good at keeping secrets.  She knows that the ruby slippers have the power to send Dorothy and Toto home immediately, but instead of telling her that, she sends her on a wild goose chase to see a “fake” Wizard.  Never mind that she made the Wicked Witch so mad that she knows she will be in hot pursuit of Dorothy the whole time!  So the “good” witch places Dorothy’s life at risk and sends her on her way down a yellow brick road, and floats off in her magic ball.  

The “evil” witch just wants her sister’s shoes back.  Wouldn’t you if some stranger took them? So who can blame her if she resorts to what she knows best, a little magic, to get them?  I don’t.  First she has some trees throw apples at Dorothy and her friends.  They got a nice snack out of it and no harm was done.  Then she creates a field of poppies to make them sleep.  After all that walking they all needed a rest anyway.  The “good” witch decides to make it snow so they can all wake up and rusts the Tin Man all over again.  She is really a big help isn’t she?  I hate it when people wake me up from a good nap.

While they are in Oz, the bad witch writes a message in the sky “Surrender Dorothy.”  So what, who cares?  Dorothy and her friends finally meet with the Wizard, who is nothing more than a charlatan who landed in Oz when his balloon ran of out steam.  Now, taking a page from Glinda’s book, he decides to send Dorothy on a deadly mission.  He will not help her unless she brings back the broom of the Wicked Witch.  To get that broom, she has to go into the witches castle and kill her too.  Where is Glinda now?  You would think this might be a good time to tell her about the ruby slippers, but no, she keeps quiet.  

Dorothy and Toto are now captives of the Wicked Witch and she wants her sister’s damn shoes.  Dorothy won’t part with them.  Finally, Dorothy’s three friends make it into the castle and find Dorothy.  The Wicked Witch grabs some fire and burns scarecrows arm.  Innocent Dorothy grabs a pitcher of water and hurls it at the burning arm (hay can easily be replaced by the way, notice she didn’t burn Dorothy).  The water “accidentally” splashes on the Wicked Witch and she instantly melts.  In less than two hours Dorothy has managed to kill two witches, sisters who have done nothing to her, and stolen their shoes and a broom.

Now Dorothy has the “broom” and takes it back to the Wizard, who says he is too busy to see her.  But, of course, he has no choice.  She called his bluff and he lets her in.  While he is trying to weasel out of helping her, Toto runs over and pulls the curtain back, revealing the liar for who he is, an old man with a balloon.  Still he tries to make good on his promise and prepares the balloon for take off.  And still Glinda is nowhere to be found!  Once inside the balloon, Toto jumps out just before take off and Dorothy follows.  The balloon takes off without them as the “wizard” doesn’t even know how to work his own balloon.  Dorothy starts crying that she will never get home.  Then, the magic Glinda ball floats down and she pops out.  Don’t cry, she tells her, you have always had the power to get home.  Dorothy can hardly believe her ears.  Neither can I.  “Yes,” says Glinda, “it’s in those ruby slippers.  I couldn’t tell you before now because you wouldn’t have believed me.”  She wouldn’t have believed her?  Are you kidding me?  She believed her about the wicked witches, and the wizard, but the shoes were over the top?  Yet Dorothy naively accepts this like everything else.

So Glinda tells Dorothy to click her heels three times while saying there is no place like home and she and Toto will be home lickity split.  Now Dorothy says her good byes and manages to insult the Tin Man and Lion, when she says she will miss Scare Crow most of all, just before she leaves.  Way to go to break a Tin Man’s heart!  

Dorothy wakes up safe and sound at home surrounded by her family and friends and no witches.  I wonder if she ever thinks back and realizes what a surreptitious person Glinda was?  Maybe one day I will rewrite the story the way it should be told!

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