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YMMV / The Wizard of Oz

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The film version:

  • Adaptation Displacement: The MGM movie adaptation is much better known than the Oz books. Some of the more recent books set in the Oz universe — such as Wicked — even adopt a few of the movie's more iconic elements, like the ruby slippers and the Wicked Witch's green skin.
    • This was actually exploited by 2013's Oz: The Great and Powerful. Legally, it's a prequel to Baum's original novel (which is in the public domain), but it was written with the idea that viewers would see it as a prequel to this movie (which is copyrighted by Time Warner courtesy of their ownership of MGM's pre-1986 catalogue).
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • A Cracked article deconstructs the entire movie and makes you wonder whether or not Glinda is in fact the real villain here. The idea is that she's subtly manipulating Dorothy to serve as an assassin, setting her on a path that she knows will directly lead to her killing off all of the Witches who oppose Glinda, as well as end up making the Wizard decide to leave Oz forever. In the end, who is left and ready to assume control as the all-high overlord of Oz? Glinda!
      • Similar but there is a less malicious Alternative Character Interpretation of Glinda where she still is manipulating Dorothy to kill the Wicked Witch however she isn't some tyrant. She is more of a ruler who wants this dangerous enemy gone.
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    • In hindsight, fans of the movie have been wondering whether the Wicked Witch really is as bad as she seems. A child came out of nowhere and killed her sister (though this doesn't seem to concern her much) and then denied her the right to said sister's most powerful possession, so she has a legitimate gripe. The combined with the above interpretation makes the movie quite interesting.
    • Was it all in Dorothy's head or did the characters all just suspiciously look like family members of hers?
      • For that matter, if the people in Oz look similar to people in Kansas, is Oz some kind of parallel dimension?
    • There's a strong argument to be made that Dorothy is an entitled little brat, and to some extent so are all of her companions. First, they walk right into the Emerald City, and demand a personal audience with their Head of State, and act as if they've been wronged when they're denied one ('s not like sovereign rulers have a lot on their plate or anything...), with the expectation that the Wizard will be willing to solve their personal problems. Also, at the end of the movie, Dorothy flips again not because she's being denied her chance to go home, but because SHE'S BEEN TOLD TO WAIT ONE DAY!
      • To be fair, Dorothy WAS under the impression that Auntie Em was sick due to Professor Marvel's lie to get her to go back home and in her panic, came to believe she was dying from heartbreak because she ran away. Not to mention her fear that any or all of the people back home may have been injured or killed by the tornado.
      • Also, Glinda pretty much led Dorothy to believe if she just went to the Wizard and told him her problems, he'd help her. Dorothy really isn't meant to be in Oz, she's already accidentally killed someone and it's clear that Oz doesn't work the way Dorothy's world does. With the Wizard refusing to see her, he's the only person she knows who might send her home and it's not like Dorothy would be aware of what being a ruler entails. It's understandable she'd panic at the thought of never seeing her family again, especially with a wicked witch after her.
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    • The filmmakers have confirmed that Dorothy's final line to the scarecrow – "I think I'll miss you most of all" – is a vestigial carry-over from an earlier draft of the script, one in which Dorothy and Hunk enjoyed a light-hearted romance back in Kansas. If you aren't aware of this factoid, however (or if you'd rather ignore it), you can still find reasons for Dorothy's favoritism. The Scarecrow did, after all, know Dorothy longer than the other two friends did, and (due to their traveling together before meeting the Tin Woodman and Lion) did get more one-on-one quality time with her. Moreover, the Scarecrow was arguably the most instrumental in Dorothy's rescue and return home – without his plan to storm the castle (and likewise, his quick thinking to spring the Falling Chandelier of Doom on the Winkies), it's not likely Dorothy would have survived her quest at all. Long story short, the script rewrite isn't absolutely essential to explain Dorothy's farewell; she might have just been closest to the Scarecrow (though some have pointed out that it would have been a classier move to pull Scarecrow aside first).
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  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Many people don't realize that Dorothy wasn't supposed to be a teenager. Dorothy being at the cusp of adulthood adds a Coming-of-Age Story element to her character, as she initially wants to escape from her problems into a childish fantasy world, but by the end is ready to go home and grow up in the real world, similar to Wendy in Peter Pan.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • The Wicked Witch of the West reacts two ways upon discovering her sister's death: wariness that Dorothy must be powerful to do that and thus a threat to her, and then eagerness to claim her sister's slippers. That her sister is dead doesn't seem to really concern her.
    • There's also the fact that Dorothy's parents are never seen or mentioned. For a little kid with disappeared or deceased parents, she seems well-adjusted, and never asks her aunt and uncle about this circumstance. Of course it's likely that they died years ago and Dorothy has had time to come to terms with the loss.
  • Ass Pull: Dorothy killing the Wicked Witch with a bucket of water, and her minions immediately going to Dorothy's side after the fact. Her weakness to it isn't even foreshadowed in the film, making it come off as a extremely convenient way of defeating her.
  • Award Snub:
    • The only reason this movie didn't win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1939 was because it had to compete with Gone with the Wind.
    • The film failed to receive any acting nominations for Judy Garland in Lead Actress, Margaret Hamilton in Supporting Actress, or Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, or Jack Haley in Supporting Actor.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Over the Rainbow" may, in fact, be the most iconic song from any film, anywhere, ever.
    • "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead", the "If I Only Had..." trilogy, and "Merry Old Land of Oz" are wonderful.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • The voiced-over "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" in "If I Only Had a Heart" is spoken in its usual wrong way, misinterpreting the original. Adriana Caselotti delivers it as if she were asking "Where are you, Romeo?" not "Why are you Romeo?"
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • "King of the Forest".
    • The Munchkinland Sequence consists of multiple small musical numbers that introduce multiple characters who gives Dorothy various thanks and accolades for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. However, after Dorothy leaves for Emerald City the Munchkins are never mentioned again or play any real role in the overall plot.
  • Broken Base: The fandom is largely split between fans of the books and fans of the MGM movie.
  • Designated Hero:
    • There is sometimes a criticism about Glinda the Good Witch. When the Wicked Witch of the West shows up to claim her now dead sister's magic shoes, she gives them to Dorothy, who was just some random girl who showed up instead of, say, hiding them from her, and this is to assume that WWotW wanted them for some sinister, magic purpose. After she essentially forced a random teenage girl into a tug-of-war between two witches for seemingly no reason, she sent Dorothy to talk to the wizard. When she gets there, the wizard tells them that they need to take the witch's broom before he'll do anything for them. As it was pointed out, they'd need to kill her to do this. After they kill the witch and come back with her broom, the wizard's method of getting Dorothy back to Kansas fails (sort of) and she's left with no way to get home. This is until Glinda shows up and tells Dorothy that at any point she could have just used the slippers to wish herself back. When she's rightfully asked why she didn't tell Dorothy this, Glinda attempts to handwave the issue by saying she wouldn't have believed her. Except, yes, she would have. Dorothy is in a dangerous world with witches and the way out is on her feet. Considering how acid-trippy the place was, would there be anything you wouldn't believe at that point?
    • There is even a Cracked article detailing how she is the best villain in film history, as well as a Mad TV skit in which Reality Ensues—Dorothy is utterly outraged at Glinda's actions and tells her off.
      • Note that this only applies to the movie. The book's Glinda doesn't appear until the very end, and the Witch of the North has no idea what the slippers actually do. Movie-Glinda was a Composite Character of the two.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Wicked Witch of the West being played by Margaret Hamilton really helped this. And Wicked, which many people have taken as actual canon with this movie.
  • Ear Worm:
    • "We represent, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild..."
    • "We represent, the Lullaby League, the Lullaby League, the Lullaby League..."
    • "Over the Rainbow"
    • "We're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz..."
    • "The house began to twitch..."
    • "Ding, dong, the witch is dead! Which old witch? The Wicked witch!"
    • As coroner, I must aver,note /I thoroughly examined her./And she's not only merely dead/She's really most sincerely dead.
    • "We welcome you to Munchkin land, tra la la la la la...."
    • The guard's Oeo chant. Bonus points for not really meaning anything. note 
    • "Follow follow follow follow the Yellow Brick Road".
    • "I would wile away the hours..."
    • "Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!..."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Palace Guards, especially the ones who protect the outside of the witch's castle, for some given their catchy chant and in spite of their limited screen time.
    • The Munckins in general, due to being completely kind to Dorothy after accidently killing the Witch of the East, and having very catchy songs.
  • Epileptic Trees: Dark Side of the Rainbow.
  • Evil Is Cool: Let's see. Extremely powerful magic? Check. Hamminess in each of her appearances? Check. Comes extremely close to defeating the heroes? Double check. The Wicked Witch of the West isn't one of the most iconic villains of the 20th century for nothing.
  • Fanon: Among fans of this movie who are actually familiar with L. Frank Baum's books, it's become generally accepted that the red road briefly glimpsed in Munchkinland, which leads in the opposite direction from the Yellow Brick Road, is the road to Quadling Country.
  • Fantasy Ghetto: The executives at MGM insisted on changing the ending of the book to make it clear that the Land of Oz only existed in Dorothy's imagination, thinking that no one could ever take a genuine fantasyland seriously. To this day, while no one would ever deny the movie's popularity or influence, many people would argue that it "doesn't count" as a fantasy film because the supernatural events are explained away as a dream.
  • First Installment Wins: Thanks to most adaptions being based on the first book only, you might be hard pressed to find people who are aware that there are other books.
  • G-Rated Drug: The poppy fields, with Dorothy, Toto and the Lion getting drowsy, while the Scarecrow and Tin Man are not affected. And then, when you consider that poppy flowers are a notable source of opium...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: At one point in the Tin Man's song, his feet stay in place while the rest of his body leans dangerously far forward. Fifty years later, Michael Jackson would famously do a very similar dance move.
  • Hype Backlash: On Premiere Magazine's 20 most overrated movies of all time list.
  • It Was His Sled: The "Wizard" isn't actually a wizard at all.
    • Oz was all Dorothy's dream.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The film, like Judy Garland's work in general, has long enjoyed a huge following among gay men. Or, rather, Friends of Dorothy.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Memetic Troll: Glinda doesn't just tell Dorothy from the start that Dorothy's ruby slippers have the power to bring her back home. In-story, the justification would be that, had Glinda told her, Dorothy wouldn't have gone through her travel and grown up with it, but most people like to attribute it to Glinda just wanting to screw with her. Interestingly, this is actually an error from the adaptation, since the film combines two characters from the book: Glinda the Good Witch of the South and the Good Witch of the North. The one from the North tells Dorothy to go to the Wizard; and after the Wizard flies off in his balloon, everyone suggests that she visit Glinda, who is the one who tells her that she [Dorothy] had the power all along.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The last evil act the Wicked Witch of the West does is insisting that, "The last to go will see the first three go before her. And her mangy little dog." The only one "her" can refer to is Dorothy, so she's the one with that privilege. The Witch's liquidation immediately after this disgusting bit of wickedness is most satisfying — in particular since it came directly from setting the Scarecrow on fire.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Movie fans are often surprised to learn that The Wizard of Oz is based on a book that was published in 1900 and the book had sequels published over the span of 50 years.
    • Similarly, many fans of the movie are unaware that it's actually the third film adaptation of the book to hit theaters. The first was a short film that came out in 1910, and the second was a silent movie starring Oliver Hardy that came out in 1925.
    • The film's ending, with the heroine waking up in her bed, surrounded by the real world counterparts to the people she encountered in a magic land, seems to be an allusion to The Nutcracker. Of course, in that story, it was meant to imply the magic land was real...
    • News of a 2013 3D theatrical and Blu-Ray re-release caused a massive stir amongst Cinaphiles over whether this is sacrilege, toned down by the fact that the Blu-Ray comes with a 2D disc. However, Warner had previously experimented with showing The Wizard of Oz in 3D, as a 2009 "4D" tourist attraction — except, this attraction only applied the treatment to about 10 minutes' worth of clips.
    • The film's transition from sepia-tone to color once Dorothy enters Oz was previously done in the 1933 Wizard of Oz animated short.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System adaptation has a lot of clunky controls and gameplay, most notably with trying to jump on platforms only to fall through them (you had to land virtually dead center or you're not going to land), and the Tin Man unable to duck, run or jump. This is all lampshaded by The Angry Video Game Nerd in his review on the adaptation (which, surprisingly, can be synched in correct timing to the first four songs of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon in reference to the film soundtrack synching Urban Legend). In the end, the Nerd called the game "almost as bad as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".
  • Sacred Cow: This one of the most beloved, if not the most beloved film known throughout the world. Certainly it's one of the few films that nearly everyone has seen at least once. Even if fans aren't above affectionately mocking it, it's still a bona fide classic that finds a new audience every generation.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Back in 1939, the idea of a fantasy world was very novel to film audiences, so much so that the studio took issue to it (see Executive Meddling). However, countless other works featuring fantasy themes and motifs have been released since The Wizard of Oz came out.
    • The movie somewhat zig-zags it. On one hand, it's definitely shown its age (the backgrounds and special effects were more comparable to what you would see on stage than an actual film), but on the other, it was so far ahead of the curve that James Rolfe has mentioned meeting people who were shocked to find that the movie was made in the thirties. Part of this can be attributed to its popularity in The ’50s.
  • Signature Song: Every song in the film has entered the cultural consciousness to some degree, but "Over the Rainbow" is one of the most famous songs ever. It also became this for Judy Garland's entire career.
  • Not-So-Special Effects Failure: You can actually see (in full view) the Tin Woodman unwinding the balloon's rope holding it down.
    • A straighter example of special effects failures happens when the Guard to the Wizard's Chamber starts crying in sympathy over Dorothy's missing her Auntie Em. You can clearly see his Ocular Gushers falling from his eyebrows, not his eyes.
    • And then there's the Wicked Witch of the West disappearing after her first scene. Once she lets out the cloud of smoke, she can be seen going down a hidden trapdoor, which obscured by said cloud.
  • Squick: Narrowly averted. The script originally called for Dorothy and Hunk (the Scarecrow) to be in a romance during the Kansas sequences, but this was dropped. Now recall that Dorothy is only supposed to be about 12 in the film. It was in the script late enough that the Oz section still retains some subtle Ship Tease between Dorothy and the Scarecrow, and her final goodbye to the Scarecrow where she says she'll miss him the most is a direct holdover from the abandoned subplot.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The film's message ("happiness is found only in your own back yard") doesn't exactly jibe with today's concept of ambition and "reaching for your dream". It did make more sense back in the Depression Era, though - largely out of necessity.
    • Just before our heroes are attacked by the flying monkeys, Scarecrow can be seen clumsily carrying a revolver. Since Gun Safety is a far bigger concern today than it was in the 1930s, it would be hard for the movie to get away with this now.
    • Glinda saying that only the bad witches are ugly can rub off audiences the wrong way in this day and age where many Hollywood productions have been catching flak for constantly making villainous characters deformed or straight-up ugly.
  • Vindicated by History: While it did okay when it first came out, much of the movie's popularity was gained in the 1950s with yearly telecasts. Some serious film critics even consider it to be superior to Gone with the Wind, which was released (and won the Best Picture Oscar) the same year.
  • What an Idiot!:
  • The Woobie: Dorothy when imprisoned by the Witch.

The animated series

  • Nightmare Fuel: In the episode "Fearless", the Witch is disguised as a gypsy in an amusement park. After Dorothy and the others leave, the park completely changes; the guests are her winged monkeys and all the rides are gone. This happens in only a few seconds, but it's very memorable and a Moment of Awesome for the animators.
    • In the episode "Not In Kansas Anymore", the Witch tricks Dorothy into going home by making her think Aunt Em is ill. However, she instead creates a fake Kansas for Dorothy, posing as Em in order to get the Ruby Slippers. When the illusion is dispelled, she retaliates by blowing up Dorothy's house.
    • "Dream A Little Dream" is about this trope, as the Witch invades the Lion's dreams to coax the others into following her. Cue the Lion having nightmares.


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