This past weekend my wife and I watched with our nieces the “Oz The Great and Powerful. I had very mixed feelings about the prospect of a “prequel” to “The Wizard of Oz” – which some say is one of the top 100 movies. But it’s not one of my favorite movies. I’ll give the movie it’s props, according to the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz is the most watched movie of all time. Now, almost 75 years later, comes the release of the “origin story” entitled Oz the Great and Powerful
Over the last few years, we have had so many “origin” stories in film that it could be argued that they represent a new genre. In reality, this is not entirely a new method of movie storytelling (think: Godfather 2, where we learn of Don Corleone’s origin), but it certainly has become much more prolific of late. My personal favorites are Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class. X-Men: Wolverine is pretty good too. Now, if you’ve seen some of these origin movies, they appear to follow a pattern of a tragedy or crisis which changes a “normal” person into something/someone entirely new. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman after the death of his parents. A group of outcast mutants overcome personal tragedy to become a band of superheroes. Oz the Great and Powerful is the current offering of this movie genre, and I bet we’ll see some sort of crisis that changes one normal man into the powerful wizard.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” actually kept me awake! It is a fantastic movie visually, The the special effects were amazing (colors and images) diffidently Oscar worthy! They did take artistic liberty that stays true to the original spirit of Oz! The film is rated PG – and I strongly suggest to all parents they use caution when taking their small children to view this movie. It is dark, and much scarier than the original “Wizard of Oz”. My nieces we took are 6-year-old and 14-year-old. Ironically the younger one handled it without a problem, but my older one was too scared of the flying monkeys, as well as the Lion.
As a Christian parent, I truly believe that instilling a strong sense of imagination in our children is important. This film provides the perfect opportunity to discuss reality vs. fiction, and human power versus the Power of God. I pray that you will be able to enjoy the artistic fiction in this film, while remembering how much God has blessed us with the depiction of our world through the masterful eyes and works of the filmmakers!
When I first read this movie’s plot summary, I thought about the story of how the people of Lystra treated the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. Because of this duo’s miracles and healings, the people thought they were gods come to earth in human form, thereby worshiping them as Zeus and Hermes. But unlike Oscar Diggs, Paul and Barnabas didn’t attempt to falsely act as wizards and rescue the people. They refused to be worshiped, and pointed people to Jesus Christ as the only One who could save them from their sins.
But the even better contrasting parallel in this origin film is between Oscar Diggs and Jesus Christ. Oscar came from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. Jesus came from vibrant and perfect Heaven to dusty old earth. In pride and arrogance, Oscar looked for fame and fortune. In perfect humility, Jesus came to sacrifice and serve. Oscar is reluctantly drawn into the epic problems of Oz, while Christ willingly came as the solution to mankind’s problems. Oscar emerges as the powerful Wizard of Oz through the use of illusion, ingenuity, and even wizardry. Our Lord emerged as King Jesus because He had REAL power as the Son of God.
In the end, Oz the Great and Powerful is just a story of a mythical man who goes from somewhat of a rascal to a good man–masking himself as an all-powerful wizard. Do you remember Dorothy’s scolding of the wizard in The Wizard of Oz? She told Oscar that he was a very bad man for deceiving the people of Oz (as well as herself and her friends). The wizard’s response is classic: “On no, my dear…I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad wizard.” In other words, Oscar Diggs was a horrible GOD even if he did become a good MAN.
Well, contrary to what many people believe, Jesus was NOT a really good man, or simply a prophet who left us with insightful moral teachings. And, He was NOT a good man who somehow pretended to be God or even emerged as God later in His life. He was not God who sort of looked like a human being. The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the perfect God-Man, fully God and fully Man. And, as the perfect God-Man, He fulfilled all of the law’s demands, satisfied the righteous wrath of God, and gave His people salvation from sin and a relationship with God.
So enjoy the origin story of the Great and Powerful Oz. Use it to remind yourself and train your children about the person and work of King Jesus. Rejoice in the fact that He is the Great and Powerful Lord that delivers us from the need for any mythical wizard. And, as a bonus, there are no flying monkeys in Christ’s kingdom!
*Photo(s)/ Resource(s): Disney, Sam Raimi Kristen Miles & John C. Kwasny