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Life Lessons From The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz is not just for kids.
Although "The Wizard of Oz" provided me much entertainment growing up, I gradually came to realize that this movie is much more than just a lighthearted story set to music about a girl from Kansas trying to find her way back home from some phantasmagorical fairytale land, battling adversity along the way. It is also an allegorical tale about the journey to self-discovery.
This movie classic was first released in 1939 in Technicolor and started appearing on TV in 1956, eventually becoming an annual tradition. If, like me, you are a Baby Boomer, you may have watched this movie every year around the Christmas holidays with your family so that by now, you've probably seen it over a hundred times and can recite many of its lines by heart.
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The Story of The Wizard Of Oz
If you have never seen "The Wizard Of Oz," it is about a Kansas farm girl, Dorothy Gale, who lives with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. She has a run-in with Almira Gulch, who tries to have her beloved dog, Toto, taken away and put to sleep. Dorothy tries to run away with Toto, but meets the kindly Professor Marvel, a traveling fortune teller who eventually convinces her to return home. She tries to do so but is swept away in her house by a cyclone and knocked unconscious.
When she wakes up, she find herself (along with Toto) transported to the magical land of Oz. She immediately runs into trouble when she finds out her house has landed on and killed the Wicked Witch of the East, the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy is desperate to get back home, and she receives some help from Glenda, the Good Witch of the North who advises her to "follow the Yellow Brick Road" to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz resides. Along the way, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, who wish for, respectively, "a brain," "a heart," and "the nerve." As they struggle to make it to the Emerald City to meet with the Wizard and have all their wishes granted, they have to continually defend themselves against the Wicked Witch of the West, who is out for revenge.
Some life lessons I learned from The Wizard Of Oz
This life-affirming movie introduced to me the idea that we may all possess certain talents and powers for which we do not give ourselves credit. Sometimes, we may even struggle to acquire these traits, totally oblivious to the fact that they have been a part of us all along.
The Scarecrow wishes for "a brain," but as it turns out, he has possessed keen intelligence all along. Throughout the movie, the plucky Scarecrow is the one who gets the motley foursome (and Toto) out of many a dangerous situation through his ingenuity, planning, and strategic thinking. As he learns in the end, sometimes, all it takes to realize your true intelligence is to have it pointed out to you and also receive some recognition for it.
As for the Tin Man, the very fact he desires "a heart" belies his true sentimentality, sensitivity, compassion and kindness, traits which he has also possessed in abundance all along. The only things he really needs are a box of Kleenex and an oil can to keep from getting stiff and rusty.
Despite his fears, the Cowardly Lion puts himself in harm's way as he, along with the Scarecrow and Tin Man, devise a plan to rescue Dorothy from the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West. As pointed out to him by the kindly "Wizard," who awards him a medal in recognition of his bravery, it is not bravado, but, rather, acting courageously even when feeling paralysed by fear, that is the true measure of courage.
The Yellow Brick Road in "The Wizard Of Oz" for me symbolizes the path on the journey to self-knowledge.
The Ancient Greek aphorism, "know thyself," is often attributed to the great philosopher, Socrates (469-399 BC), who also declared that "the unexamined life is not worth living." If you have been innundated all your life with negative messages, the first thing that may come to mind when advised to "know thyself" is that you must be "brutally honest' with yourself and take a grueling inventory of all your defects, weaknesses, and limitations.
"The Wizard Of Oz" impressed on me the important idea that this advise, which may sound intimidating at first, should work both ways. To be truly objective about yourself, you must also take an inventory of all your strengths and assets. If you examine your life carefully and dispassionately, you may be surprised to remember all those times when you may very well have already demonstrated the very qualities you may desire, whatever they might be.
"The Wizard Of Oz" teaches that, often, the very things that we seek in life that we think we lack, whether they are personality traits or solutions to certain problems, lie within ourselves. Rather than seek out some external "all-knowing Wizard" (who, as it turns out, does not really exist), "The Wizard Of Oz" teaches us to look within ourselves for guidance. This movie also exhorts us to not be afraid to face life challenges and adversities, as they provide an opportunity to hone one's problem solving skills and discover hidden strengths.
Take a look at your own life. Is there some ability, talent, or power within you that you may have overlooked that is right under your nose? As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe so aptly put it, "As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live."
Here are some of my favorite scenes from The Wizard Of Oz.
Besides all its positive life-affirming messages, there are a number of cute and funny scenes from this feel-good movie that always bring a smile to my face. For some samples, check out the videos below.
The Tin Man dances.
I love the part when he stumbles out onto the Yellow Brick Road, breaks out into a tap dance, slaps his knees, thumps his chest, and toots his hat.
Dorothy scolds the Cowardly Lion for picking on Toto but then comforts him.
This is also the scene where the Tin Man, trying to be helpful, asks the Cowardly Lion, "Why don't you try counting sheep?"
The Cowardly Lion proudly sings "If I Were King Of Forest" and struts his stuff.
I think this scene has to be my very favorite. (He's so adorable!)
The flying monkeys march and chant "Oh We Oh! Yo Oh!"
Although I must have seen this movie over a hundred times, I never could decipher exactly what those flying monkeys were chanting. (Is it "Oh We Oh" or "Oleo"?)
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"
Well, it looks as if the jig is up!
How many times have you seen The Wizard Of Oz?
Do you consider The Wizard Of Oz to be one of your all-time favorite movies?
The Wizard of Oz (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)
Also available on Blu-Ray.
This 2-disc DVD set offers a far more spectacular viewing of "The Wizard Of Oz" than what you may remember seeing on TV. Besides the full length movie, it also includes many nifty extras for die-hard Oz fans.