No single generation can lay claim to “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), but I certainly can attest that it holds iconic status in the eyes of many Gen Jonesers.
It’s a movie that we associate with our childhoods, replete with the annual anticipation of its fall screening on TV. It was an event in our lives, right there on the small screen. The songs became etched in our minds, especially “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead,” and “If I Only Had a Brain.” The scary parts, most notably the tornado scene, anything to do with the Wicked Witch, and the flying monkeys, had us huddled together on our couches.
And how many times have variations of memorable lines from the movie entered into our everyday sayings and quips? Such as:
- “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!”
- “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
- “I’m melting! melting!”
- “…we’re not in Kansas anymore”
- “Shucks, folks, I’m speechless.”
- “There’s no place like home!”
(See the imdb.com entry for more!)
“It’s a twister! It’s a twister!”
Over the past five years, I’ve gone on a number of storm chase tours in an effort to learn more about severe weather in America’s heartland. The tours are led by expert storm chasers, and these experiences have put me in touch with dozens of other chasers, severe weather enthusiasts, and storm geeks.
Whenever we talk about the roots of our passionate interest in tornadoes, the twister scene in “The Wizard of Oz” inevitably comes up, early and often.
Spanning our emotions
Very few movies of our childhood so envelop a range of emotional qualities: Joy, longing, belonging, friendship, caring, love, fear, courage, shame, kindness, evil. We care about and identify with the core characters. Each has a quest, a challenge, and we root for them.
Yup, I could wile away the hours (sorry!) thinking about the lasting imprint of this movie on my generation.
Movie poster: Wikipedia