Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I'm Ever Eager to See the Wizard

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I'm Ever Eager to See the Wizard

Article excerpt

I have seen "The Wizard of Oz" 41 times and am not finished with it yet. I cannot explain the pull that this 1939 movie has on me, except to say that, if I am passing through a room and notice it on the tube, I will drop everything, plop down on the sofa, and savor.

In the years before the videocassette, I often went through heroics to chase down this film. Once, while I was in the Navy, it played at the base theater (on the big screen!). As soon as my ship pulled into port, I hopped onto my motorcycle and high-tailed it to the movies. The place was packed with children; but I wedged myself in among them, hugged my sack of popcorn close, and the rest was heaven.

On another occasion, I was on the road somewhere in the Southeast and learned that the movie would be on TV that very evening. I promptly sought out a motel, hunkered down for the night, and warmed to the overture to what someone once called the greatest movie ever made.

Why do I respond so viscerally to "The Wizard of Oz"? I'm sure my attachment to this film was seeded very early, at the age of 5 or so. This movie had everything: beautiful music, vibrant colors, fanciful characters, and just enough darkness to assure me that, yep, there certainly was no place like home.

Later in my childhood, I fell prey to the other tender messages of the film: It sometimes takes courage to run from danger; there are people at great universities who have no more brains than you or I; when bad weather threatens, the cellar is a good place to hide; hearts will not be practical until they're made unbreakable. Pretty sound lessons for a young boy finding his way in life.

Like any zealot, I wanted to share my enthusiasm with anyone within shouting distance. As the years passed, such comrades-in- arms became fewer and farther between as they relegated "The Wizard of Oz" to the attic of childhood affinities.

I couldn't let go, however. I finally found an unsuspecting - and uninitiated - person about eight years ago, when I adopted my first son, Alyosha, from Russia. I wanted to watch "The Wizard of Oz" with him as a way of sharing something that meant a lot to me. I also felt that it would show him that his new country, at root, was made of pretty good stuff. …

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