The Dark Side of the Wizard of Oz
Last week, my boyfriend Mike and I had friends over to enjoy dinner (Mike makes my favorite lasagna—sausage, spinach, gorgonzola cheese, oh my!) and to watch The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. I did this once in college, in the dorm room of a friend who insisted that it would blow my mind the way these two pieces, when played in tandem, are connected. At that time, I did not feel that my mind was blown, but I did feel that there were some eerie coincidences, a few that gave me goose bumps. I walked away from the experience last week with the same feeling.
Especially in the first half an hour or so of the movie, a lot seems to synch up. Just as the dreadful neighbor pulls up in her bicycle (the woman who is the wicked witch of the west in Oz), a number of alarms go off. Just as Dorothy steps out of her house and into Oz, a new and somehow appropriate song begins. The munchkins’ dances seem to be in rhythm to the music. Little things, but strange!
As I was watching, and the coincidences (or are they?) became fewer, I began to think less about them and more about The Wizard of Oz in its own right. Right after I started this blog, I posted an entry about Sherwood Anderson’s story “I Want to Know Why.” In that entry, I tried to describe a disillusionment I feel from time to time with life—when I’ve learned something about someone that disappoints me, or have heard something that I’d rather not know. It’s realizing the darker part of human nature and then wishing I hadn’t made the realization.
Watching The Wizard of Oz reminded me of this feeling. There is something very wholesome about the movie. The relationship between Dorothy and Toto in particular stands out. This is a young girl on a farm who loves her dog. I watched this movie probably once a year growing up, so it also reminds me of my childhood.
There are dark parts to the movie, as well, though. There is a girl’s disappointment with her lot in life. There is a battle between good and evil. There is a yearning for home. And, perhaps most importantly, there is the story of Judy Garland’s life that is always in the back of my mind when I watch this movie as an adult. Her struggles, her addictions, and her premature death get mixed in with the simple Kansas farm life, and that seems more eerie, I think, than how the movie synchs up with The Dark Side of the Moon.