The Wizard of Oz, one of the most beloved movies of all time, celebrates its 70th birthday this year. When I first watched the classic 1939 Judy Garland movie as a child, I didn’t realise just how many life lessons were contained in this story. Now, years later, I realise what a powerful story it is for all times. I can see the lessons to be learnt in Dorothy’s journey as she struggles to overcome the turbulent twisters on her journey and the lessons she learns from the cast of characters she meets along the way. I have even found a website dedicated to the practise of “ozology” which states that “the simplest truths of life are often the most profound and most important, and though the simplicities of the Wizard of Oz may seem platitudinous, they are all that we need to understand ourselves and the world around us.”
The characters of Dorothy and Toto, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard of Oz and such iconic images of the yellow brick road and Dorothy’s ruby slippers have all become part of the our cultural imagination. Dorothy’s heartfelt statement, “There is no place like home,” still reverberates today.
There are so many scenes and metaphors to choose from, but for me one of my favourite lessons is contained towards the end of the film, where Dorothy misses her balloon flight home, starts to cry, but is then told by Glinda, the Good Witch, that with those ruby slippers, she had the power to return home the whole time. The answer was literally under her nose or on her feet to be precise. Like Dorothy, we are all more powerful than we think and the answers we seek are always within.
Wizard of Oz: As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
Tin Man: But I still want one.
Wizard of Oz: Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.
Tin Man: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I – I think that it – it wasn’t enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em – and it’s that – if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?