Heart of a Dog

The Emerald City of OzFor the first time in decades, I watched The Wizard of Oz. When I was a kid, I didn’t like it. The Kansas scenes seemed so bleak and the Oz scenes scared me. It was pleasant to see that it is a wonderful, ridiculously sentimental film. It reminded me of a Powell and Pressburger film, but you know… for kids!

One thing that really stands out in the film is the moving camera. It looks like they were going for long takes too, but for whatever reasons they cut them up. For instance, during Somewhere Over the Rainbow, there is a disconcerting cut away to Toto. Overall, the film looks great. The Oz part is a bit too colorful for my modern eye, but I can’t help but love it. And the Kansas part is consistently gorgeous.

I even liked the choreography. It is the perfect mixture of professionalism and silliness. And you can’t complain about the songs. Of course, I would think that, given If I Only Had a Brain is probably my favorite song ever.[1]

It is a tired observation that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion exhibit the strengths they claim to lack. Although it is true, there is one character who has the most intelligence, heart, and courage: Toto. And so I was very interested in what happened to him in a way I never did when I was younger. Sadly, I didn’t find out. Almira Gulch (AKA The Wicked Witch of the West—the best part in the movie!) still had her warrant from the police for Toto. Or if she didn’t she could get one again. Who will protect Toto?

Perhaps I should ask that of us all. In 1910, L. Frank Baum wrote The Emerald City of Oz. In it, Dorothy brings Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to live in Oz after a tornado destroys their farm, leaving them penniless. Interestingly, a hundred year old book takes a closer look at economic instability than the majority of political and economic nonfiction today.

We’ll always have Oz.[2]

[1] This isn’t what I was thinking of. I couldn’t find Livingston Taylor doing it, who I associate it with even more than Ray Bolger. This is Elvis Costello and Bill Frisell:

Oh hell, here are Ray and Judy doing their thang:

[2] That’s my second film reference. I hope you’re impressed.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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