Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wizards, Jedi, and Farm Kids....Oh My!

I was reading this post yesterday and it got me thinking about the movies that had a big impact on me when I was a kid.

My first real movie obsession was The Wizard of Oz. I was probably around three when I really got into it. According to my parents, as soon as we hit the credits I would ask them to rewind it and start the magic up again. I had a collection of character dolls that I kept out on my dresser. (Except at night when I had to put the Wicked Witch in a drawer. She was already invading my dreams; I didn’t need her watching me.) My Dorothy doll was regularly played with. She had a tragic accident one Thanksgiving when I thought it might be interesting to see if she could be a Rockette. To this day, Miss Gale only has one leg.

When I was in fifth grade I was introduced to my next cinematic love. Sure, there had been countless movies I had loved between the ages of three and ten, but none to this magnitude. In 1997, Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope was re-released in theaters. It was my first time seeing any of the Star Wars movies. I can remember sitting in the theater and thinking, “Yes. I want all things to be this.” Afterward, I went home and combed through my parents taped VHS’s until I found the ones that held the next two movies. Of course, I would go and see them in the theater, but while I waited for that, I would watch the originals on grainy tapes and read all the books I could get my hands on. I was good and hooked.

These movies that I loved as a child continue to be favorites to this day. My desk at work is adorned with lunch boxes from both and my home is strewn with various examples of nerdom. But what I’m really finding interesting as I look back on my younger self’s fascinations are the connections between my favorite films.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

-          Both The Wizard of Oz and A New Hope star farm kids raised by an aunt and uncle.
-          Dorothy and Luke begin their stories with a sense of dissatisfaction in their home lives and they look to the skies for a cure (Dorothy: over the rainbow/Luke: flight academy).
-          Their adventures really begin when their small, non-speaking friends run away and get themselves into trouble (Toto: Miss Gulch/R2D2: Tusken Raiders).
-          Because of these small friends, staying at home is no longer an option (Toto will be taken away/Stormtroopers have burnt home to the ground in search of droids).
-          Following these unfortunate revelations, both characters take to the sky, though Dorothy’s trip was, admittedly, not by choice.
-          Both characters
o       Find worlds they weren’t expecting (Oz/Destroyed Alderaan and Death Star).
o       Seek aid from the mystical in achieving their goals (Wizard/The Force).
o       Pick up friends along the way:
§         The wise friend, who knows more than he/she is letting on, and has a history with the villain that is not fully explained to the hero (Glinda/Obi Wan).
§         The friend who downplays his intelligence, while also being a bit of a know-it-all (Scarecrow/C-3PO).
§         The allegedly heartless friend, who turns out to have had a heart the whole time (Tin Man/Han Solo).
§         The rather hirsute friend, who occasionally finds himself a little jumpy, but is brave when it counts (Cowardly Lion/Chewbacca).
o       Face off against villains who favor black capes and head wear, while wielding power over large groups of uniformed minions (Wicked Witch/Darth Vader).
o       Ultimately discover (with the help of the wise friends) that the strength needed to win lay within them from the beginning, they just didn’t realize it.

Really, the biggest difference between the two films is that Dorothy’s desperate to get home, whereas Luke has no plans of ever going back. Well, that, and the lack of musical numbers in A New Hope. (No disrespect to Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes. You guys are great.)

In conclusion, apparently kid-me (and subsequently adult-me) had a definite type. And I think I’d label it under “awesome.”

And just to make sure she’s not left out of this post, click here for a picture of kid-me dressed as Princess Leia!

1 comment:

  1. very nice, kelly. you are truly onto something: joseph campbell and
    (both you're prolly fully aware of)
    but this detailed comparison is actually—waitforit—awesome :)