With The Wizard of Oz returning to screens as part of our Road Movies season, we take a look at the enduring appeal of this fantasy classic. Just follow the Yellow brick road…
Why do we keep returning to The Wizard of Oz? Its candy-coloured palette and nostalgia factor keep us glued to the screen whenever Dorothy and Toto crop up during a lazy Sunday telly binge but maybe it runs deeper than that. Maybe it’s the promise that this iconic 1939 kids classic offers audiences that keeps us coming back. Like any good road movie, Victor Fleming and King Vidor’s film teases something better waiting just down the road – or more specifically, just over the rainbow. As Glinda the Good explains to our hero when she first arrives in Munchkinland, all she has to do to solve her problems is follow the yellow brick road. It seems even in Oz the highway holds all the answers.
Or does it? Like many films featured in this season, the path ahead doesn’t always lead to the destination our protagonists may have desired. In rural Kansas Dorothy (Judy Garland) longs to escape her family life and dog-hating neighbours, eventually finding herself whisked away by a tornado to the fantastical world of Oz. However on arrival at this strange and wondrous place she longs to return to her simple farmhouse home. The only way back is by moving forward down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where the mighty and powerful Oz may be able to grant her wish and return her to her family.
It’s not just Dorothy who relies upon the road to lead her to happiness. Along the way she meets a trio of broken friends, each in need of a quick-fix that only the Wizard of Oz can provide. There’s a scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who needs a brain, a tin-man lacking a heart (Jack Haley) and a cowardly lion (Bert Lahr) that longs for nothing more than a bit of courage. Together, they hit the road in the hope of becoming whole again with the help of a mysterious higher power.
Perhaps behind the curtain of The Wizard of Oz’s glittering aesthetics and ruby slippers lies the real reason why audiences keep returning almost 80 years after its release. After all, who amongst us wouldn’t want the chance to remedy all of their deepest troubles overnight? It’s an appealing notion. Sadly Dorothy, Toto and the rest of the troupe learn that their simple solution is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, as illusionary as the land that exists somewhere over the rainbow.
This of course we already knew, and by the time our travellers catch up they’re on the cusp of being fixed themselves and yet the appeal of their idealistic dream endures. In a perfect world, maybe we’d all like to think life’s difficulties could be fixed by following a yellow brick road to happiness. Although if it were true, perhaps we’d be poorer for it. It’s like Glinda the Good says: if our problems were easy we wouldn’t need a wizard, would we?
Words by Simon Bland, Digital Content Officer at HOME.
The Wizard of Oz returns to screens on Sat 29 and Sun 30 Aug. Book tickets here.
HOME Digital in association with Virgin Media Business