By D Decoto (Yakima, WA, USA)


Reflecting on Oz, the Great and Powerful

In the world of Oz resiliency is a requirement, not an elective, especially with wicked witches and their dreadful henchman flying around. The last ruler, killed by a daughter turned wicked witch, had ruled over the peaceful kingdom of Oz with everyone provided opportunities and meaningful participation. The wicked witch rules with deception and violence initiating lethal attacks on the peoples of Oz who are long awaiting, with their beloved good witch Glinda, the day when a great wizard is prophesied to arrive and thwart evil and take back the kingdom for the good of all.

Oscar Digg, cad, magician, carnie, and friend’s call him Oz, finds himself in the Land of Oz after narrowly escaping the wrath of the carnival strongman whose wife he flirted. Out of the kettle and into the fire, Oz escapes into the clutches of a tornado, a hot air balloon in and on the path of the unknown. He vows he just wants to become a great man, not just a good one…if only he is spared. In due course the potentially life shattering voyage comes aground in the Land of Oz where he is mistaken for the fated, great wizard and soon he gets caught up in the character and position…

Meanwhile, this incorrigible wizard supposed-be is sent on a trek to get the magic wand of the wicked witch who killed her father, in order to take his proper place at the throne. It is a touching moment when his flying monkey companion and servant, Finley (that’s another story within the story), come upon the devastated China Town. There is one sole survivor but she cannot come forward and Oz reveals China Girl (and she is just a living doll, literally and figuratively) from amongst the broken porcelain rubble with two severed legs and hairline fractures. He introduces himself and he performs a most wizardly act by gently mending and encouraging her to walk in the face of her great loss. The three move on and when China Girl is set down and instructed to walk back to the Emerald City to safety, a tearful, no bars held reaction is unleashed that even the great Oz is not immune.

This modern day prequel to the original 1939 Wizard of Oz movie that many of its viewers grew up with, has its own set of endearing characters and China Girl, Finley and others win our hearts as they take over Oz’s.

Later, Oz prepares to hightail it upon realization that two wicked witches and a massively daunting army were not well matched to a mere mortal magician, and not a very great one at that, leading a rag tag army of nonviolent pacifists. After a turn, twist and a tide, Oz halfheartedly listens to the good witch deliberating a plan to take back the kingdom. The witches and Oz know that he is not the wizard they were expecting but the good witch and the people have belief in him, that he is the wizard they need.

China Girl asks for Oz to tuck her in like her father did, and when she asked if he was the kind of wizard that could grant wishes he shared that they didn’t have that kind where he came from and she wanted to know what kind they did have. As he started to tell her there were no wizards you see a light bulb go off in his head as he tells her, there was one great wizard, T.A. Edison, who made impossible things happen with almost nothing, and that’s “the kind I’d like to be.” China Girl informed Oz that is the kind he is.

The progression of Oz, the wizard, the land and its people, are drenched in resiliency and all the commensurate concepts. Oz finds and gains strength and momentum from the people and in turn the people empower Oz as he hones in on strengths, taking a rag tag group, empowering himself and others, coming up with a workable plan all could believe in and contribute to in a meaningful way. Oz tells China Girl that he cannot give her what she most wishes for but he can give her the same thing you and I can give others, caring, support, and strength focused positive outlook.

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