The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A young Kansas farm girl is transported by a tornado to a magical land from which she attempts to return home.
Writer(s): Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
Director: Victor Fleming
Production Co.(s): Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Loew’s
Adapted from: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Novel) by L. Frank Baum (© 1899)
The Story on the Screen
In the The Wizard of Oz, young Dorothy Gale is transported by a tornado from her home on the plains of Kansas to the weird and wonderful world of the Land of Oz—a magical place filled with strange beings and ruled by a powerful wizard known as Oz.
Dorothy Gale is transported by a tornado from her home on the plains of Kansas to a magical world called the Land of Oz—where she must attempt to get back home.
From the moment she lands and learns where she is, Dorothy has one major goal—to return to the home from which she has been displaced. And although her journey is not without tangents, it is the single-minded goal of returning "home" that drives her actions, and she is unswervingly set on its pursuit.
Behind the Scenes
The attempt to "return home" in any context is a regain action, where the condition of value is not possession of the "home" itself but one's physical presence there. Consquently, The Wizard of Oz is a regain story.
Like Paikea in Whale Rider, Dorothy's story revolves around her finding and claiming her proper place in the world. But unlike Paikea, whose "proper place" is one she has never possessed (the seeking of which is a gain action), Dorothy's journey is one of return—specifically, the attempt to regain the place she thinks of as "home." As a result, the proposition of the story may be rendered as:
- One should attempt to regain her proper place in the world when displaced by forces beyond her control, because success in the attempt will restore balance to her life and the world.
Although the resolution of Dorothy's journey hangs on the fortuitous vulnerability of the Wicked Witch of the West to plain water, it is her dogged perseverance in pursuing her goal, and doing so with integrity, that puts her in position to achieve that goal and wins the support of us-the-audience in the process.
In the end, Dorothy not only returns to Kansas but does so with a greater appreciation of the "home" from which she was torn. However, that appreciation is not at any point the focus of her attempted journey in the Land of Oz. It is, rather, a consequence of having acted bravely and with honor in her attempted journey.
In the end, Dorothy not only returns to Kansas but does so with a greater appreciation of the "home" from which she was torn.
And because she succeeds in her attempt at an endeavor that we-the-audience support, we are pleased for her success—which makes The Wizard of Oz a succeed/pleased story.
For More Information
For details regarding the concepts and terms used in this analysis, refer to the Discovering the Soul of Your Story overview video and the glossary. For more story analyses like this, visit the Story Analyses page (or use the search tools in the sidebar).