On the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, remembering that there’s no place like home – and nothing like leaving it

Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

IC_MEIS_WIZARD_AP_001Salman Rushdie wrote an amusing little book in 1992. The title of the book is The Wizard of Oz. It’s about the famous movie with Judy Garland’s Dorothy and Toto and the Wicked Witches, East and West. The movie The Wizard of Oz is celebrating its 75-year anniversary this month. For three-quarters of a century, this unusual movie has been infecting the brains of young people all over the world. Rushdie was one of them. At age ten, Rushdie wrote his first story. He called it “Over the Rainbow.” Strange to think that there is a direct line from The Wizard of Oz to Rushdie’s now-classic tale of the partition of India, Midnight’s Children (1980).

Rushdie is an unabashed lover of the film. Call the film, he writes, “imaginative truth. Call it (reach for your revolvers now) art.” Rushdie also has strong opinions about what this artful film is and is not about. It is not about going home. Yes, Dorothy frequently talks about going home. After her house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East, the munchkins and the Good Witch Glinda tell her to go home immediately. She isn’t safe in Oz, they tell her, not with the Wicked Witch of the West still lurking about. So Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road in order to find the Wizard, who will help her return to her home in Kansas. At the end of the movie, she clicks her ruby slippers together and repeats, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” In a movie that Rushdie says is not about going home, there is quite a lot of home-talk.

But that’s not, says Rushdie, the real story. “Anybody,” he writes, “who has swallowed the screenwriters’ notion that this is a film about the superiority of ‘home’ over ‘away’, that the ‘moral’ of The Wizard of Oz is as sickly-sweet as an embroidered sampler — East, West, home’s best — would do well to listen to the yearning in Judy Garland’s voice, as her face tilts up towards the skies.”

Point taken. Garland’s Dorothy does yearn and tilt as she sings her famous song.

More here.