In the cinema it is not uncommon to experience involuntary memory. It can happen that we are suddenly and unexpectedly seized, in the midst of the most seemingly mundane film, by an overwhelming sensation of sensuous reminiscence.
The truth is that once we have left our childhood places and started to make up our lives, armed only with what we have and are, we understand that the real secret of the ruby slippers is not that “there's no place like home, ” but rather there is no longer any such place as home: except, of course, for the home we make, or the homes that are made for us, in Oz: which is anywhere, and everywhere, except for the place from which we began.
If the road movie is in some deep sense about the road itself, and the journey taken, more than about any particular destination, it is still a genre obsessed with home. Typically, the road takes the traveler away from home. Sometimes, the road leads to a new home, as in frontier narratives or tales of emigration. As often, in various kinds of escape or travel narratives, the road just leads away - away from boredom, or danger, or family, or whatever it is that produces the desire or need for something called “away” as opposed to the place called “home.” While it provides an escape from and alternative to home, and home can be “anywhere, and everywhere” on the road (or, in another formulation, “anyplace I hang my hat”), the trope of the road still requires the concept of home as a structuring absence: Very often, as Corey Creekmur suggests elsewhere in this volume, from the perspective of the road, either “you can't go home again” or “there's no place like home.”
The Wizard of Oz (1939), of course, paradigmatically enacts the road movie's contradiction between the desire for home and away. In The Wizard of Oz the