Friday, September 18, 2009

Remembering a Classic: The Wizard of Oz

When we reach adulthood, there’s a tendency to look back on our lives to see what exactly led us to our current path. As a film school graduate, my mind wanders back to some early movie experiences that sparked my imagination and developed my love of storytelling. One of the films that launched my fascination with cinema was The Wizard of Oz. It’s an example of a classic story that is at once fantastical and relatable. As the film celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, I thought back on my first encounter with this timeless tale.

I must have been about 7 or 8 years old when I first viewed the story of Dorothy and the Land of Oz We were on one of our regular family visits to my grandparent’s home when it was casually decided that us kids (my brother and I) should watch the film. As it began, I remember being captivated by the world presented to me. When Dorothy stepped out of her home and into the brightly colored dream-world of Oz, I became enraptured. Even at that young age, I knew that I was watching something special. The journey that Dorothy undertakes and the characters she meets along the way made for some the most memorable images I had ever seen.

As out-of-this-world as Oz was, the story was extremely relatable. We’ve all felt as if we didn’t belong at some point or another, just as Dorothy does. Or perhaps we’ve felt as if we’re missing something, like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion. As we connect with these characters, we experience their journey with them, eventually learning the lessons that they learn.

The film truly is a rite of passage for children as it provokes a wide range of emotions, from wonder to terror. My brother and I were left by ourselves to watch the film and we were both frightened by the Wicked Witch and her army of flying monkeys. At that time it was probably one of the most terrifying experiences of our lives. But we made it through. That’s what’s so special about the movies. You can be transported to so many places and go through so many dangers, but in the end, you’re back in the comfort of your own home.

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