We’ve been traveling a fair bit recently, and — having a modern minivan — we’ve played DVDs for the kids in the back. Sometimes, we make them use headphones; Looney Toons are fun, but “The Rabbit of Seville” loses a lot if you can’t see it. Other times, we listen to the DVD, too, and it’s given me a lot of food for thought.
As much as I enjoy the movie The Wizard of Oz — and who doesn’t like saying “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my!” or singing along with “We’re off to see the wizard”? — I can’t help thinking about how it changes the truth both of the book it is based on and the entire series. (Spoiler warning!)
Not only is Oz real, but it winds up being Dorothy’s permanent home, as well as Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s. Yes, it’s an escape from their farm being foreclosed on, but it has its own dangers to face. The big, important thing about Oz for Dorothy (and Trot, Button-Bright, and Betsy Bobbin) is that she has found somewhere she belongs, with friends who understand her, somewhere she fits in.
Looking back on my childhood, I think that may be part of what I loved about these books, almost as much as the magic.
Finding somewhere the characters fit in is a theme in many stories, both in print and in movies. Goonies, the Ice Age series (“We look like a normal pack to you?”), Anne of Green Gables, even the Harry Potter books have it as a theme . . . on and on. As someone who grew up with only a few friends at any time (and rather unpopular with the world in general), I needed stories that said I would, eventually, find my place.
And that’s why I’m going to make sure my children know there’s more to the story of Oz than the movie shows. There is no place like home — but we all need to know we can find somewhere else to belong, too.