Room with a View|Nov 28, 2004 11:35 AM| by:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

When L. Frank Baum gave to the world The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he probably didn’t realise or at all envision it as an evergreen classic that would become the 6th Best Motion Picture of all time [1]! However, he did have enough clarity of vision to know that what he was creating was nothing ordinary either. He strove to break away from the stereotypes cast in his time and as he says himself:

“…the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ in the children’s library; for the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales’ in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf, and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents [sic] devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale…[“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz] aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out.”

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  has its own share of violence but for one thing it is mild and more importantly, its objective is to lead one away from the world of wickedness and instead shine the spotlight on qualities of courage, consideration and determination, of leadership, camaraderie and dignity.

The 1939 silver screen adaptation by MGM called The Wizard of Oz starring a 16 year old Judy Garland was considered to be a technical marvel as it introduced rich sepia in place of the usual black & white. But that wasn’t the only claim to fame for this wonder that went on to become quite possibly the most popular family film in history. It was decidedly the magical storyline, its rich content and an eternal theme that has inspired children and adults alike, through the past and into the future.

The Story

“Dissatisfied with her life on her Auntie Em’s (Clara Blandick) and Uncle Henry’s (Grapewin) Kansas farm, Dorothy Gale (Garland) is attempting to run away when a twister strikes; Dorothy is knocked unconscious and, more amazingly, her entire house (with Dorothy and Toto inside) is lifted up into the funnel cloud and deposited squarely on top of the now-deceased Wicked Witch of the East of in Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz.

Dorothy emerges from her house and meets the amazing inhabitants of this strange new land, including the Munchkins and Glinda, The Witch of the North (Burke).  After a run-in with The Wicked Witch of the West (Hamiltion), Dorothy wants nothing more than to return home.  Glinda advises her to visit the mysterious Wizard of Oz, who lives at the end of the yellow brick road and who has the power to accomplish almost anything.

Dorothy sets out on her path and gathers others around her who are also seeking the Wizard’s assistance: the Scarecrow (Bolger), who wants a brain; the Tin Woodman (Kaley), looking for a heart; and the Cowardly Lion (Lahr), seeking courage.  While eluding the Wicked Witch, the quartet eventually wind up in the court of the Wizard (Morgan). The Great and Powerful Oz, however, tells the group that they must first prove themselves worthy by bringing him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch before he will grant their requests.

Following Dorothy’s capture by the flying monkeys and her courageous defeat of the Witch, the triumphant group returns, only to discover that the Wizard is a charlatan.  Yet, he is able to show the group that each possessed what he had always sought and, as for Dorothy, he can take her back to Kansas in his balloon. When the balloon takes off without her, Dorothy, under the guidance of Glinda, uses the magic ruby slippers to transport her back to her farm, where she lovingly declares to her family and friends, “There’s no place like home”.”[2]

Baum’s tale of a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow has become a touchstone for novelists, filmmakers, poets and playwrights, and the film may just wear the crown as the most cherished tale ever presented on the screen. On November 6, Warner Bros. will re-release “The Wizard of Oz” on the big screen for the first time in more than 25 years and on the eve of the film’s 60th Anniversary.

Film Screening at the Ashram

With the coming of children to the Ashram in the 1940s, and the starting of a school, the Mother also made arrangements for showing them films.  The films were chosen with great care and the Mother saw each one of them first to see whether they were suitable.  Only after she gave her approval, the films were shown to the children.

In September 1952 the film “The Wizard of Oz” was received.  The Mother gave the following very interesting explanation of the deeper and occult significances of some of the scenes in the film, before the general projection.

“A short explanation will surely increase the interest of the picture to be shown to you tonight.

This picture is in three sections, two black and one, the most extensive, in colour. The two black sections (first and last) show how things appear in the physical world; the coloured one expresses a similar sequence of events and similar characters in the vital world, the world where one can go when the body is in deep sleep, when one gets out of the body. So long as you have a physical body, no true harm can happen to you in the vital world, for the physical body acts as a protection, and you can always return into it at will. This is shown in the picture in a classical way. You will see that the little girl wears on her feet some magic ruby-red slippers, and so long as she keeps the slippers on her feet nothing wrong can happen to her. The ruby red slippers are the sign and the symbol of the connection with the physical body, and as long as the slippers are on her feet, she can, at will, return to her body and find shelter therein.

Two other details can be noted with interest. One is the snow shower that saves the party from the influence of the wicked witch who by her black magic has stopped their advance towards the emerald castle of beneficent vitality. In the vital world, snow is the symbol of purity. It is the purity of their feelings and intentions that saves them from the great danger.  Note also that to go to the castle of the good wizard they must follow the broad path of golden bricks, the path of luminous confidence and joy.

The second is: when Dorothy throws water on the straw man to save him from burning, some water falls on the face of the wicked witch who lit the fire and at once she gets dissolved and dies. The water is the symbol of the power of purification and no hostile being or force can resist this power handled with goodwill and sincerity.

Finally, when the good fairy teaches the little girl how to go back home by knocking her red slippers one against the other, she says that nothing is better than home; by “home” she means the physical world which is the place of protection and realisation.

As you see, the subject of this picture is interesting and not altogether devoid of knowledge. Unhappily the rendering is not as beautiful and harmonious as it could have been. In the setup there are some serious faults of taste and many regrettable vulgarities.”

Perhaps the next time you watch The Wizard of Oz, it will be an altogether new experience and even more rewarding than before.


[1]An honour  conferred by the American Film Institute
[2]Sourced from the Internet