I think about this movie quite a bit (see my entry “Glinda the Good Witch Is a Psycho”). I’ve wondered for years if maybe the movie was a cautionary tale. Yes, I know it was based on the series of children’s books by L. Frank Baum, but even so, I think I may be right.
Let’s take a look at Dorothy Gale. In the books, she was a child, 10 years old. But in the movie, she was obviously MUCH older. In real life, Judy Garland was 17. I’m not sure if this is true, but I read somewhere that they made her bind her breasts in an attempt to look younger, but it didn’t work. Sister had a huge rack.
But that plays right into my cautionary tale as well.
The “Dust Bowl Migration”, as it was called, happened during the 1930’s. The midwest was mostly farmland at the time. It had been overfarmed to death, and there was a severe drought that came in three waves: 1934, 1936, and 1939, but some places had a straight through drought lasting 8 years. The topsoil (and any seeds farmed in it) pretty much blew away. It started in 1930 and lasted roughly 9 years, until 1939, affecting parts of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The Great Depression (1929 – 1939) was already in full swing. So now you had people who couldn’t afford food, and there wasn’t much to be had. Farmers couldn’t even grow enough to feed their own families, and were losing their land, either due to being unable to pay their mortgage, or because there was no point in keeping it when the ground was useless.
Many decided to head West, mainly to California.
I’m sure many of these people had stars in their eyes. They would become a famous actor or actress, and be rich, and never have to worry again. The streets would be paved with gold. I have no doubt that many then (as now) were taken advantage of by unscrupulous people, looking to take whatever they had from them, however little it was. Surely there were some very pretty ladies who got into some very bad situations.
But this is where the warnings of The Wizard of Oz come in. You’re going to California (Oz) to be a star? It’s a very strange place (Munchkinland). There will be many strange, downright freakish, people, that may be thoughtless, heartless, and cowardly (The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion).
There may be someone who can help you (Glinda the Good Witch), but watch that they don’t turn on you (The Wicked Witch of the West). Don’t trust the men (The Great and Powerful Oz), they will say anything to gain your trust (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and of course I will take you home in my hot air balloon). At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, you will realize that THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.
What do you think?
dust storm in Kansas in 1937
buried farm equipment in Dallas, South Dakota in 1936