We’re off to see the most influential movie in history
Forget ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Psycho’. Simply follow the yellow brick road
If you grew up with the yellow brick road, coveted the ruby slippers or ever said out loud: “We’re not in Kansas any more”, then this one’s for you.
The Wizard of Oz has been identified as the most influential film of all time from a collection of 47,000 movies. And if scientists might think this is anecdotal evidence from “softer” colleagues in the humanities faculty, they would be wrong.
The research, just published in the journal Applied Network Science, was based on a scoring system that tracked how often the film was referenced in movies that came after it, and how influential the subsequent films were.
Italian academics at the University of Turin explained how they “treated the films as nodes in a network”, adding: “Similar network science methods have already been widely applied to measuring the impact of work in other fields, such as scientific publications.”
The Wizard of Oz was a clear winner, and was followed by Star Wars and Psycho. All top 20 movies were from Hollywood and were released before 1980.
The Wizard of Oz has also spawned a myriad different interpretations by scholars over the decades.
One said the movie was a psychedelic journey of sorts that children could access as a crazy and colourful story while older viewers could relate to it as an acid trip.
The direct reference to narcotics in the movie is the field of poppies that makes all the characters sleepy on their travels, but for many, the drug references went much further than that. It was seen to have an influence over the counterculture movement of the 1960s, and in recent decades it became faddish in New York and London to watch the movie to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Writer Erich Kuersten said of the film: “Any good myth functions as a natural psychedelic, a breadcrumb trail through the wild wilderness, but The Wizard of Oz also functions as a metaphor for acid itself. The switch from black and white to vivid technicolour remains a solid way to describe its effects to people who’ve never tried it.”
Another popular interpretation of the film is that it was one of the first feminist books for children. Writer Michael Hearn described it as being “universally acknowledged” as “the earliest truly feminist American children’s book, because of spunky and tenacious Dorothy”.
He wrote that “homely little Dorothy refreshingly goes out and solves her problem herself rather than waiting patiently like a beautiful heroine in a fairytale for someone else, whether prince or commoner, to put things right”.
The wizard, on the contrary, who is believed for most of the film to be Oz “the great and powerful”, turns out to be nothing but “humbug” behind a screen.