I was reading Salman Rusdie’s essay in Step Across This Line called “Out of Kansas.” He makes some interesting observations about both the movie and the book, The Wizard of Oz. Consider:
If Kansas is such a gray, depressing, dark, scary (those tornadoes!) place, why is the place so appealing (especially in comparison with Oz)? Dorothy is an orphan living with Auntie Em and her Uncle, two adults so powerless that they can’t even save her little dog from old Miss Gulch. What must daily life be like for Dorothy? Auntie Em scolds Dorothy to find a place where she won’t get into any trouble. Is there such a place for any child? Wouldn’t Oz, with it’s bright colors and worshipful munchkins and spectacular adventures, not be more appealing?
As Rushdie states on p. 10: “Thanks to Miss Gulch, this cinematic Kansas is informed not only by the sadness of dirt-poverty by also by the badness of would-be dog murderers. And this is the home that there’s no place like? This is the lost Eden that we are asked to prefer (as Dorothy does) to Oz?”
Did you know that the song “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut out of the movie? That the book does mention ruby slippers, but merely silver shoes? That Frank Baum named Oz after the bottom drawer of his file cabinet O-Z? That in the book the Emerald City was not really emerald, but could only be seen that way with special, emerald-tinted glasses?