Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

Like a lot of things about this movie, the title is pretty self-evident. The book on which it's based is officially named The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but Hollywood dropped the "wonderful" as superfluous. The Wizard of Oz it is and remains, and we've all heard the title so often that we never really stop to think about what it might mean.

It's not hard to figure out the basics. Dorothy seeks the Wizard of Oz to return her home, thus making him a key character as well as the object of her quest. If you get at least two dramatic concepts in a single four-word term, you run with that. He's quite literally the center of Oz, after all, so what better way to sum up the whole movie?

In fact, the two big words in the title – "wizard" and "Oz' – also convey what it's all about in the first place. No one's heard of Oz after all, meaning that it's probably a magical land far away. What would you find in such a land but a wizard doing those things that wizards do, like impress the yokels, fly around on balloons and send hobbits off to destroy magic rings. (Okay scratch that last one; wrong movie.) The title gives the viewer a good sense of what's waiting for him or her in this one: a little foreshadowing for anyone who could use a little magic and wonder in their lives. There was a Great Depression on, and Europe went to war a week after the movie opened, so we imagine that's quite a lot of people.

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