August 30, 1939 [The Wizard of Oz]

Home is a funny thing in The Wizard of Oz: a faded dream and a yearning, lifeless and washed-out but most beloved, the Grail smudged and dusty. When Dorothy leaves her leaning house and steps into Technicolor, we seem to be leaving behind cinema's past, forging onward into the too-bright sunlight, like Plato's cave-dweller getting more than he bargained for. I felt Arbuckle and von Stroheim and Gish passing away--carrying Dorothy to the new world--but only if she will abandon the old one. And at the end, after too many horses of too many different colors--and flying monkeys, a Brooklyn lion, an apoplectic Witch and clattering Woodsman, the nasal chorus of Munchkins, poppies and snow, song and rubber-framed dance, and cartoon trees come to life--the Road moves in a circle, back to the gray house and the sepia family. And it is a Grail, after all: sought but never found--at least not as clearly as the Road, yellow as gold.


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