Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Point of View

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Point of View

Third Person Omniscient

Some things in Hollywood never change. When you crank out blockbusters the way MGM did in the 30s, you don't go against formula. That meant no daring experiments in narrative technique. While parts of The Wizard of Oz get a little trippy, it's nothing you wouldn't see in dozens of other movies at the same time. We follow the story linearly from beginning to end, and the action stays more or less centered on the main character the whole time. Nothing fancy, nothing tricky, just get the story told.

The most notable feature, which they made very clear with that slick color/B&W thing, is the framing device, whereby Dorothy appears to have dreamed her entire adventure. The Kansas sections serve to set up what she wants to get away from, then welcome her back home when she's done. The "it was all a dream" notion helps give the narrative a little elegance, since she can imagine any sort of landscape in her head without having to explain what (or where) it is. It closely resembles other narrative types, such as flashback narratives, which also frame the main story, though rarely with a slick visual cue like this one has.

Beyond that, though, things stay pretty simple. We don't jump back in time and things move resolutely forward. Intro and exposition follows with rising action, until climax and denouement bring us home. To keep things even simpler, we almost never leave Dorothy's side. Oh, there are a couple of brief scenes of witch-plotting and an even briefer shot of Miss Gulch riding ominously toward the farm, but otherwise, Dorothy stays front and center the whole time.

So the narrative can definitely shift away from her if it needs to; it just doesn't, in the name of presenting this all as expediently as possible. We know our heroine, we know where she's going, and the narrative gets right to the business of telling us. Otherwise, there might be undue delays in the singing Munchkins, and no singing Munchkin fan wants to be kept waiting.

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