Delving Deeper…

17 03 2009

It was with interest that I read this article about the Wizard of Oz. Yes, that childhood tale of a young girl just trying to get home, aided magnificently by the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion. Oh, and the dog. It is always interesting to read into books rather than taking the face value for granted. Now I’m not sure that I completely agree with the theory being portrayed in the BBC’s article, but it is interesting to see an argument or theory put forward well. A considered, rationalised approach substantiated with specifics from history to contextualise the argument mean that the original proponent of the viewpoint, Henry Littlefield has a strong case. Especially when you consider that the film actually took away some of the political points through subtle changes (the Ruby slippers were actually Silver in the original book, an apparent reference to the use of silver to substantiate the American Gold Standard which was ailing at the time the book was written.

Despite this, the viewpoints put forward by readers at the bottom of the page are more in line with my thoughts. You can read whatever you want to read in things. The Wizard of Oz has, through the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries become extended metaphors for a range of things. I think that this may be a case of reading something into it that was not intended to be there in the first place. By this I mean modern observers are mapping ideas onto the film that fit with the society that they know at the moment. This isn’t unusual, it has been happening for ages, and I think that the example of the Wizard of Oz serves to indicate this further.

To link in with this idea of interpretation of films, I saw Watchmen on Sunday. I have to say I really liked it. The film looked good, the plot was substantial, considered and thought-provoking, and I would recommend going to see it, although you may wish to lose the preconceptions of a ‘super-hero’ movie that my sister apparently approached the film with. I have my own theories on the movie that I will share with you, so if you haven’t seen it, now would be a good time to stop reading.

I think that it can be argued that the film is an anti-religious one. Dr Manhatten (the big blue one) is used as an extended reference to god, with the idea being sown into our heads early on, when it is explained that he does not consider himself to be a god. Through the film we see what Manhatten is capable of, infinite knowledge, bringing death, being in many places simultaneously, being an entity for people to unite behind (the film uses Vietnam to highlight this idea). All are ideas which can be seen to be ‘god-like’. This theory is further substantied when, at the end of the film, Manhatten leaves Earth to set up life in another universe. He therefore can be seen to be both the bringer of life and death. So very god-like.

I say it is anti-religion though because by the end of the film, Manhatten has been made into the bad-guy. Through the series of events that leads to the destruction of a large part of New York, Manhatten becomes the common enemy that prevents the Russians and the Americans wiping the planet out in a nuclear war. By giving them something to hate, Manhatten saves the earth (even though strictly it wasn’t of his own design).[I’m thinking that the next Batman film will follow a similar line given the ending to the previous one]. So, in the course of the film, Manhatten is shown to be god-like in all but name, and is hounded down and almost forced to leave the planet, indeed, the universe to save mankind. It is true that he could fight back, and would almost certainly win, but it is his love of mankind which sees him disappear. To me this smacks of being anti-religion.

I think. As I’m writing this I am also considering the possibility that the film is pro-religion too, as here is this omnipotent being who has saved the world from itself and has united enemies. I suppose it is what you make of it then. Just like the Wizard of Oz.




One response

17 03 2009

Did you catch the hidden squid?

We did:


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