MovieChat Forums > The Wizard of Oz (1939) Discussion > Was the subtext intentional?

Was the subtext intentional?


Did Victor Fleming and the other filmmakers involved with the making of Wizard of Oz intend for it to have its deep symbolism and esoteric meanings that audiences and critics have come to critically analyze over the years, or was it by pure coincidence or people looking too deeply into the film for things that aren’t really there?

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Which subtext are you talking about?

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Various aspects of the film like how the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion represent the first 3 degrees of Freemasonry and in another interpretation they represent the different types of gay culture. Also how the Wizard and the Emerald City represent the American political system. How Oz as Dorothy’s dream opens up to a Freudian interpretation of the characters and events. How Oz characters represent the industries that make up the US economy. There are several more!

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I have heard that some scholars who've seriously studied the life and works of Frank L. Baum think that it really is a metaphor for the arguments about the gold standard that were raging in his day. There's something about the Yellow Brick Road representing the Gold Standard and the Emerald City some other form of currency, I don't care about the details myself, but I'm sure a quick google search will tell you everything a sane person might want to know about it. And whether the Freemasons were part of Baum's deal.

As for the movie, I'm pretty sure the gay context was unintentional, strong through it is. Friends of Dorothy! Freudian subtext might have been intentional, Freud and psychoanalysis were all the rage during that period.

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A friend of mine has been pushing that book on me. I intend to read it. Maybe I'll give a book report here after, lol. But anyhow, yeah, the gold standard seems to be the real deal when it comes to author's intent. Kinda obvious when you think about Oz. oz =ounce ...

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The book is very, VERY short. Reading it is comparatively painless.

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I'd say there's almost no way Fleming and Co. inserted anything(such as symbolism) intentionally. The Hollywood studio system was in full swing back then and the primary concern of course was the budget. I'm not sure who really directed WOZ..and it probably doesn't really matter as they just had to get the story made, they weren't going to go very deep into symbolism or hidden meanings as it would have further complicated and already extremely complicated production.

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