Echoes of Oz – 75 Dorothys – first steps on the yellow brick road

I’m really thrilled we’ve got Arts Council England’s support to realise ’75 Dorothys’.

I’ve been thinking and dreaming up adventurous plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of the MGM classic ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for over a year, now, and this is a chance to make our first significant steps to achieving the spectacular project we’re working towards. More of that at a later point, but, for now.. I’d just like to share a few of the reasons ‘The Wizard of Oz’ inspires me.

1. Technicolour wizardry
I remember watching ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on one of those endless, annual repeats at Christmastime on the telly, and the moment that really grabbed me (after Judy Garland singing ‘Over The Rainbow’ had got my attention) is when the film turns from sepia to technicolour, as Dorothy lands in Munchkinland. Of course, a child of the 1970s, I’d seen colour film and television before – but that moment was still pretty amazing, because it’s done so vividly and beautifully. Others have tried to replicate that kind of magic – but immediately followed by the almost hallucinatory goings on in Munchkinland – giggling flowers, Glinda the good witch arriving by bubble, Ding Dong the witch is Dead and THE LOLLYPOP GUILD – for me, it’s still one of the most wonderful moments in any film I’ve seen.

2. Wishes and rainbows
The film magnifies the essential themes of L. Frank Baum’s original book to tell an enduring story, which is one I really like. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t wished for more, thought the grass was greener, dreamed a big dream and wondered what it would be like if… The message of the film is about finding your own inner truth, not looking to other people and places to make you happy, but being your authentic self – living your dreams instead of just dreaming them. It’s summed up by Glinda when she tells Dorothy “You’ve always had the power…” – the full quote is HERE It’s a bit cheesy, but I think that’s a pretty good message.

3. It’s a female story
This is a film with a female protagonist and all the characters that matter are also female. It’s a fairytale, and the characters do fall into stereotypes of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – another Glinda quote, ‘Only bad witches are old and ugly’ – the real world/Kansas characters in the film (not the book) are strong: Aunty Em the matriarch, Miss Gultch the powerful land-owner, and Dorothy the girl who dares to dream. OK, so there’s a bunch of men in there too, but Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and the Wizard are just journeymen – this is Dorothy’s story. Many contemporary films, especially the Disney-fied family ones, attempt to create ‘strong female characters’ – but they’re usually pretty artificial. I like Dorothy’s story because (whilst the whole OZ thing is fantastical) it’s a story about an ordinary girl who has the heart, brains and courage to defeat the wicked witch and find her way home. She’s a heroine I hope my little girl will continue to love as she grows up.

There’s loads more I could say: Glinda’s gown is the biggest and best dress anyone has ever worn ever, the songs are fab, the ruby slippers are soooo red and sparkly, the flying witch and flying monkeys are pure evil, the horse of a different colour is one of the most bonkers ideas in any film (more technicolour wizardry) – so many things to love about ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – but then I’d just sound like a geek.

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