The Wizard of Oz and our enduring American Dream

Released on Blu-ray and being shown around the country in select theatres is an all-time favorite, the Wizard of Oz. One can only speculate as to why this movie has endured and endured over the years. There are a number of reasons but they all break down to the essence of the American spirit in its purest form.

Here is a short synopsis of the plot: A young girl runs away from her farm home in Kansas when a mean witch of a neighbor tries to impound her dog. When she decides to return home, there is a huge tornado that strikes the house and she passes out, only to land in a beautiful color-filled landscape known as Oz. Her house has killed a Wicked Witch, and she is warned by a good witch that the sister of the dead witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, is now her sworn enemy.
Aided by the Good Witch and a pair of enchanted ruby slippers, the young girl sets off on a quest to find the Wizard of Oz. She is told he might help her find her way home. She follows a yellow brick road and meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion. Each possesses hidden strengths and talents that belie their humble origins.

When they reach Oz, the Wizard puts them off with an almost impossible task, to bring back the broom of the Wicked Witch. Although they are almost destroyed, they manage to overcome the Witch and return to Oz. When they bring the broom before the Wizard, they subsequently find out that he is not what he seems, but instead a stuttering humbug that has pretended to be something he is not.
He admits his failures and plans to help Dorothy return home. When a slip-up occurs and he flies away without her, the little girl realizes that she has possessed the means to return to her home from the beginning.
Once she wakes up she is greeted in her own home by the farm hands that all bear a remarkable resemblance to her fantastic friends from another world.

Not too long ago there was a special that explained why the Wizard of Oz was shown in refugee camps around the world. It translates as proof positive that after all these years, this film still gives hope to people who need to escape from their cares if only for a short time. Another example of the enduring nature of Oz was when someone on a news show described a mental state where they saw the world change from black & white to color, just as it occurred in the Wizard of Oz. Never before or since has this clarity of vision opened our eyes to the possibilities in life like the scene in Ozwhen Dorothy first opens the door onto that new world of Oz.

The scene is a metaphor for a coming of age and for the embodiment of hope. As a house lies in ruins, a beautiful new world is created in the mind and heart of a young woman. That is the essence of the American Spirit and the embodiment of the American dream.

The materialistic period of history where we have endured the ups and downs of capitalistic greed and other deadly sins has ended when our banking house of cards came crashing down. In this Brave New World that we must now fashion out of the ashes, The Wizard of Oz can still serve as a mantra for hope and a purity of Spirit found in our enduring dreams.

Published by

MLJ

Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Film-Future-Global-Village/

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