Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Somewhere Over The Rainbow... There's A Problem...

As Disney releases their new movie Oz the Great and Powerful, people remember MGM's classic film The Wizard of Oz. What a wonderful movie, right? I mean, you have an amazing cast, incredible songs, production design that still holds up today. Sure, sometimes you spot a small flaw like when you suddenly see Dorothy wearing black shoes, but it doesn't break the enticing spell the movie weaves.

But you know what it doesn't have?

Completely flawless storytelling.

To be honest, a lot of movies suffer from this. Even Citizen Kane has a critical plot hole. (Who heard him say "Rosebud?") So, while we look at these issues, remember, we love the movie, but we're not so in love to completely turn a blind eye to its flaws.


So, when Glinda tells Dorothy that she needed to learn the secret for herself, what lesson is she talking about? When Dorothy awakes in Kansas at the end of the movie, she promises never to leave again. By this, we assume she means she won't run away from home. All she needs (at the supposed age of twelve, though let's face it, Judy was definitely not twelve) is at home.

So yes, Dorothy learns not to run away from home... at the beginning of the movie. Remember when Professor Marvel tells Dorothy that Aunt Em is sick? And she hurries back home? Yeah, I'd say she got the idea back then... Speaking of which...


When Dorothy leaves Professor Marvel, he notices a storm brewing. Why didn't it occur to him that Dorothy might be far away from home and might not make it to shelter in time? Of course, he just fed her a hokum story to make her go back to Aunt Em, but still, you just sent a little girl off on her own during a storm. Why not just admit you made it up, convince her to wait out the storm with you, then send her back home? After all, at the end he pops up at the Gale's farm to check on Dorothy, so it couldn't have been too much trouble to go over there.

The first person Dorothy meets in Oz is Glinda, who says she's the Witch of the North. However, when Dorothy says that she's never heard of a beautiful witch before, Glinda explains that only bad witches are ugly. Having previously asked Dorothy if she was a good witch or a bad witch, we might assume that Glinda is saying that she's a good witch.

Or does she? Who calls Glinda the Good Witch of the North? The impressionable Dorothy.

At the end, Glinda arrives to tell Dorothy that she can use the Ruby Slippers to get home. The Scarecrow speaks for all of us when he says "Why didn't you tell her before?"

"Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself."

"What have you learned, Dorothy?"

Let's not go over that again... has an article that goes so far as to call Glinda "The Greatest Movie Villain Ever." Angelo points out that the musical Wicked offers explanations for Glinda's actions, putting her back in a more sympathetic light, but that's an interpretation outside of the movie. And why wouldn't Dorothy believe a woman who travels around in a big pink bubble? Because after seeing that, clicking your heels three times and saying "There's no place like home" is too much of a stretch of the imagination to even try out?

And did the Ruby Slippers even work? After all, as Dorothy clicks her heels and repeats the famous line, Glinda is seen waving her wand over Dorothy's head. Why does she need to do this?

Glinda, you make no sense. You should have just told Dorothy that you were the Morally Ambiguous Witch of the North.


At the beginning of the movie, Dorothy is running away from Miss Gulch, who says Toto bit her on the leg. As such, she uses her sway with the Sheriff to get an order allowing her to take Toto away to be "destroyed." Toto of course escapes Miss Gulch, but Dorothy realizes that Miss Gulch will be back, so she runs away from home. (Worst idea ever, kiddo, sorry.)

Dorothy meets Professor Marvel who makes Dorothy realize that she loves Aunt Em more than Toto, so she goes back home, where she is knocked out by a window pane hitting her in the head. When Dorothy recovers at the end, no one says a word about Miss Gulch and Toto's still there.

Now, it's possible that the family will now try to fight to save Toto for Dorothy, or that Miss Gulch was killed during the tornado, or that Miss Gulch and the Sheriff have bigger things to worry about given a tornado just came through, but the movie offers no answer. For all we know, right after we fade to black to go to "The End," Miss Gulch could arrive with the Sheriff and it's bye-bye, Toto. (I prefer to think that the Sheriff doesn't want to deal with this now, but again, that's an interpretation.)


Sam A M said...

I was just thinking recently (either a few hours ago or yesterday, I forget!) how this well-loved (even "beloved") movie ISN'T all that deserving of the praise it gets - but I think it's more to do with what was edited out and WHY, not to mention the ridiculous :too long" standard at that time.

Anonymous said...

Well it was all a dream anyway, and dreams don't have to be logical, do they? :)

Sam A M said...

That is not always a valid reason. Going to that excuse is more of a lazy cliche and cheap cop-out.

Jared said...

Plus, points #2 and #4 are about plot points in Kansas.

Ozaline said...

Also why is there a bucket of water sitting out on the ledge in the tower, what purpose does it serve? You think she wouldn't leave something so deadly just lying around, again Tom and Jerry gives an off screen explanation for this. Likewise the Royal Shakespeare adaptation of the play explains that Ms. Gulch was hit by a telephone pole or something.

You could argue that Glinda's revelation didn't come right away because the whole thing is Dorothy's sub-conscious sorting out what happened, but yeah it's really fun to dissect her as a villain. There's also the Mad TV sketch on that, "You came down a big bubble I'd have believed anything you said, if you told me the way home was to lick the lollipop guild I would have done it!"