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I see I alluded to this in my review, albeit only in a single word:

Like all fairy tales, this one has suffered countless attempts by critics and commentators to explain its meaning and power. Countless interpretations have been advanced, of the book and of the film, from almost every conceivable angle: political, economic, religious, feminist, Freudian, you name it.

But is there any "explaining" this story? Baum himself, in his introduction to the book, professed that it "was written solely to pleasure children of today." Yet even Baum seemed not to understand what he had done.

Color me skeptical. I take the economic interpretation as an artifact of clever eisegesis, not a description of anything going on in Baum's work, even inchoately, I think.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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  • 11 months later...

Links to our threads on Return to Oz (1985), Tin Man (2007), Oz the Great and Powerful (in development), Wicked (in development), Oz Wars (in development) and The Wizard of Oz (remake in development).

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A new 'Wizard of Oz' could make its way down the Hollywood road

EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off Disney's massive success with Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," Warner Bros. wants to remake another childhood classic. Like, really classic.

The studio is examining two existing "Wizard of Oz" projects, with an eye toward giving one of them a modern gloss and moving it toward the screen.

One project, called "Oz," currently lives at Warner's New Line label. It's being produced by Temple Hill, which is behind a little franchise called "Twilight," and has a script written by Darren Lemke, a writer on the upcoming "Shrek Forever After."

A second "Wizard of Oz" project, set up at Warners proper, skews a little darker -- it's written by "A History of Violence" screenwriter Josh Olson and focuses on a granddaughter of Dorothy who returns to Oz to fight evil. "Clash of the Titans" producer Basil Iwanyk and his Thunder Road Pictures are behind that one. ("Spawn" creator Todd MacFarlane is potentially involved in a producerial capacity, to give you some idea of the tone.)

While the idea of a new "Wizard of Oz" movie is said to be in the development, let's-bat-this-around stage, it's been advanced seriously enough on the lot that representatives for some of the top directors around Hollywood have been briefed. . . .

Los Angeles Times, March 9

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 11 months later...
The preacher exchanges the fairy-tale truth that is too good to be true for a truth that instead of drowning out all the other truths the world is loud with is in some kind of harmony with them. He secularizes and makes rational. He adapts and makes relevant. He demythologizes and makes credible. And what remains of the fairy tale of the Gospel becomes in his hands a fairy tale not unlike The Wizard of Oz.

Thanks to the M-G-M movie, everybody knows the story. The tinman, the lion, the scarecrow, and the child travel many a long mile of yellow-brick road in search of the great wizard who they believe will be able to grant them their hearts' desire: the tinman a heart, the lion courage, the scarecrow a brain, the child a way to get home. After many a perilous adventure, they finally reach the Emerald City, where the wizard lives, and in a devastating audience in which he appears to them variously as a beautiful lady, a terrible beast, a great ball of fire, he tells them that he will do nothing for them until they first destroy the wicked witch and bring him back her broomstick to prove that they have done it. They are almost destroyed themselves in the process, but somehow they manage to bring it off, and when they return with the broomstick to claim their reward, the wizard grants them a second audience. It is the great tragicomic scene. Again the wizard appears to them in all his glory, but instead of granting them their wish, he puts them off and so great is their indignation and disillusion that there is a scuffle in the course of which a screen is knocked over, and there behind the screen is the wizard himself, who turns out to be not a beautiful lady or a terrible beast or a ball of fire, but only a little bald man with a wrinkled face.

Only when they did not see the wizard for what he really was did he appear majestic and beautiful. Only when they did not understand his true nature did they bow down before him as a great mystery and power. The Emerald City itself turns out to have looked as if made of emeralds only because they were looking at it through spectacles made of emerald-colored glass. His magic turns out to have been only a series of illusions he worked from behind his screen. In other words, their faith in his power to do anything for them that they could not do for themselves is revealed to be groundless. "You are a very bad man," Dorothy says, and the wizard's answer is, "Oh, no, my dear, I'm really a very good man, but I'm a very bad wizard." So the great and terrible Oz is only a human being like Dorothy herself, and the only good he can do for them is a human good. He cannot give them anything that they do not already have, and that is the meaning of the gifts he then distributes among them.

The silk heart stuffed with sawdust that he gives the tinman, the pins and needles he stuffs inside the scarecrow's head, the drink out of saucer that he serves up to the lion, are only talismans of the heart, the brains, the courage that they have already acquired by their conscientious pursuit of them and their defeat of the wicked witch. By bringing out in them the best that they are, their faith proves to have been an end in itself and not a means to an unimaginably greater end. Like a skilled psychotherapist, the wizard helps them to an inner adjustment that makes them better equipped to deal with the world as it is, but he is not able to open up for them or inside of them a world of transcendence and joy because although he is a very good man, he is not really a wizard at all. Like people who have been successfully psychoanalyzed, they are all dressed up but with no place to go except where they have always been. The only best for them is the best they can do for themselves and for each other. As for Dorothy, the wizard fails her entirely when the balloon he plans to take her back to Kansas in takes off prematurely without her, but the story of how the good witch, Glinda, deals with her bears the same meaning. Glinda tells her that although Dorothy didn't know it, the silver shoes that she has worn from the start could have taken her home at any point on her way, so that, like her three friends, she has had it in her own power all along to achieve her goal. L. Frank Baum entitles the chapter of The Wizard of Oz in which all this is described "The Magic Art of the Great Humbug," and they are very sad and eloquent and suggestive words.

The Wizard of Oz is the fairy tale dehumbugged, and the good news it bears is the good news that hard and conscientious effort and a little help from our friends pay off in the end, and faith is its own reward. The most important thing to have faith in is ourselves, and that is also the chief magic. Insofar as they receive their hearts' desire, Dorothy and her friends, it is essentially a do-it-yourslef operation, and the joy of it is not beyond the walls of the world but within the walls of the world ...

- Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth, pgs. 92-95

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  • 9 months later...

So I know almost everyone has incredibly fond old childhood memories of this film - but is there anyone who can give me a good reason not to let Frederick Buechner talk me into thinking this doesn't belong on our Top 25 Pilgrimage list?

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  • 1 year later...

Saw it this past weekend in IMAX 3D with the family. (Y'all know it's in theaters until October 3, right? See it this weekend!)

It's so wonderful to see this one on the big screen. Painstakingly restored from the original Technicolor negatives (blue, red and green, all photochemically restored), scanned at 8K resolution, digitally adjusted for shrinkage over 75 years, digitally merged for a more precise composite image than was mechanically possible 75 years ago, and finally color-corrected and digitally restored with almost no image tampering (I think they removed like three wires and that's about it).

The detail is extraordinary: the texture of costumes, Judy Garland's freckles under her rosy-cheeked makeup, Toto's fluffy self. The 3D is really nicely done, not jarring or obtrusive. My favorite 3D effect is the illusion of depth added to the flat backdrops and cardboard matte paintings!

I wrote a new piece on the film for Catholic Digest ... and I did a 60-second "tribute" as well.

 

 

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?” What was Kermit talking about? There’s only one song like that…and one movie that embodies the childhood magic Jim Henson wanted to evoke.

Hollywood attempts to recapture that magic with similarly whimsical stories, children traveling to magical, dangerous worlds, colorful sets, little people in costumes, and song-and-dance numbers have seldom if ever succeeded. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory have their fans, but I’m not among them.

Small wonder, then, that The Wizard of Oz—not a big hit in its day—has become (per the Library of Congress) the most watched movie in history, ranked #1 on lists of fantasy films by the American Film Institute and The Guardian, and numbered among the 45 films of the 1995 Vatican film list.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHnxLCJEivA

 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I took the kids last weekend. We all loved it.

However, I am FURIOUS that the MPAA had updated the film to a PG status. Because, likely, the added 3-D made the tornado sequence all the more harrowing.

With that logic, shouldn't the black-and-white Human Centipede II on an analog screen warrant a PG-13?

Nick

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Well, the ratings system didn't even exist in 1939, so does it really matter?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Well, the ratings system didn't even exist in 1939, so does it really matter?

I'd like to think so. The bulk of my children's viewing should have a whole lot more G rated films, to make up for the NC-17 films I force upon them.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Well, it's still rated G where *I* live, if that's any help. :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Well, it's still rated G where *I* live, if that's any help. smile.png

I wonder if they're saying that Canadian kids have a greater maturity level than those of American kids, and can handle traumatic weather patterns far more easily. American kids just can't handle this.

Me, I'd like to think that it was the dead body hanging from the trees...

Edited by Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Well, it's still rated G where *I* live, if that's any help. smile.png

I wonder if they're saying that Canadian kids have a greater maturity level than those of American kids, and can handle traumatic weather patterns far more easily. American kids just can't handle this.

Me, I'd like to think that it was the dead body hanging from the trees...

 

 

 

Generally Canadians can handle blizzards better than American's but are much more tramautized by the rarer Tornadoes.   wink.png

Edited by Attica
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  • 1 year later...

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