Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Wizard of Oz

I’m shocked! Premiere Magazine lists my beloved “The Wizard of Oz” among its 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time in its latest issue. No way is this classic overrated.

To me, Judy Garland’s unforgettable interpretation of Dorothy Gale makes MGM’s 1939 version of L. Frank Baum’s popular fairy tale even more than just a great movie. In one of the most heartwarming film performances ever, Garland tenderly embodies the universal longing for a happy home and good friends. Her haunting "Over the Rainbow" lingers in my memory like no other Hollywood musical number. Thank heavens filmmakers changed their minds about cutting that song from the finished production. What a treat to see and hear the great Garland in her peak performance!

MGM re-released “The Wizard of Oz” in 1949 and again in 1955. In 1956, the movie received its initial television broadcast and, since 1959, has become a yearly television event -- which probably makes it one of the most-viewed motion pictures of all time. It’s almost impossible to believe this splendid movie was created over 60 years ago. Despite so many advances in special effects since then, nothing today on film quite matches its glory and wonder for me -- from its glittering Emerald City, menacing tornado, and giant talking Wizard-head to those sparkling Ruby Slippers.

Truly, “The Wizard of Oz” is an enduring masterpiece.


  • Rudolfo A. Anaya--Bless Me, Ultima--speaks of dreams as "flights of the Spirit." My Bette went him one better: "Dreams," she said, "are wishes of the heart."

    As I understand it, archetypes are our human matrices, found in dream and myth--our most deeply held collective truths. As a child, in the 1930s, I was fascinated by fairy tales, reading them literally by the library-full. When I saw "Wizard," it captivated me in a very special way. These many years later, I enjoy it even more. I think I've begun to get some modest insight into the why of this. Wizard is such a special, accessible visual expression of the eagle and the serpent, death/life, alpha/omega in each one of us. Look at Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Star Wars, see these in archetypal tales in every culture, . . . . and the wonderful heaven and hell of it is that to see all of this, we really don't have to go very far: we need just go and look in the mirror. It's all just that close, I believe.

    We are all in search of . . . home? So much of life, as I've written/said is hope, symbol, and gesture. And in the end, perhaps home is the word for that comprehensive, Augustinian restless impulse to pilgrimage to just over the horizon's blade, where every ending is a new beginning.

    P.S. This August 30, is Bette's and my 36th wedding anniversary. Our wedding reception was celebrated with a few friends who were still talking to us, in the Crown Room at the Del Coronado Hotel, under one of the crowns designed by L. Frank Baum, of The Wizard of Oz. It was August 30, 1969: the year of the 200th anniversary of the founding of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the bridge to Coronado had opened that year, and the Padres went into the majors. Bette was beautiful, in full white wedding array, with dainty white flowers in her hair. I was in a suit and tie. Through the years, I've presented her with special annotated editions of Baum's work. Yeah, the Wizard lives!

    By Blogger Cesar A.Gonzalez-T., At 2:29 PM  

  • Happy Anniversary, Bette and Cesar!

    And thanks for the inspirational analysis of why "The Wizard of Oz" means so much to so many of us.

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