Monday, July 5, 2010

The Wizard of Oz

Hello again!

TCM just showed "The Wizard of Oz" again for the umpteenth time. Did anyone else watch it? Many of you may have it in your collection.

Typically, it really is not suitable for the young child. I would say 9 year old at the earliest and even later for a very sensitive child. The images of the witch are really, really scary!!

Of course, as we discussed in our first workshop, which drifted pretty far into Fairy Tale analysis, telling a story like that, or reading it from a book without illustrations of the "scary" parts allows the child to create inner images only of things he or she is psychologically ready for. This is a point made extensively by Bruno Bettleheim in his book, "The Uses of Enchantment." When we hear a story, we have to create our own images. When we see a picture (magnified by film) the images enter our brains unfiltered and uncensored by our psyche and remain there forever - fixed, unalterable and un-deletable. This is what causes movies to be such a danger to young children.

All that being said, film, for adults and older children is a marvelous extention of the written word and an amazing art form in and of itself. The trick is just to figure out the right timing.

Good stories are little lessons and profound truths are encapsulated into an imaginative and magical extension of everyday life.

In "The Wizard of Oz" we have a marvelous example of the soul (Dorothy) journeying into the spiritual world with her three companions, referred to by Rudolf Steiner as "soul forces" - Thinking, Feeling and Willing. She meets the Guardian of the Threshold and has to confront her "shadow self" and defeat it's murderous power over her. In doing so, she transforms her soul forces. Obviously, the Scarecrow could already Think, the Tin Man could Feel and the Cowardly Lion could overcome his fear for the sake of someone he loved. What was needed was the development of spiritual consciousness through deeds of love. The Guardian of the Threshold loses his fearsome nature and becomes a kind guide and the Guardian Angel (Glinda the good witch) is able to raise Dorothy's consciousness of her own spiritual power in thought.

Really, the whole of Rudolf Steiner's book, "Knowledge of the Higher World and Its Attainment" which outlines the way to healthy clairvoyant consciousness is miniaturized in "The Wizard of Oz".

I doubt that L. Frank Baum was familiar with Steiner's work, but he reached into the microcosm of his own heart, which is the doorway to the macrocosm of the spiritual world and found there the same truths about the spiritual nature of the human being and his or her journey of self discovery.

We'll look at Winnie the Pooh later when we talk about "The Four Temperaments" on August 14 at Bayou Stars Threefold School here in Houston, Texas.

Meanwhile, remember that just because a story is filmed as animation or advertised as for children, it is not necessarily for children at all. Really sit and watch "children's cartoons" on TV - the contemporary ones or even classics like Bugs Bunny - and you will soon see why. It is vitally important to preview everything you consider allowing your child to watch and really ask yourself if it is appropriate at his or her age and stage of development. If there is any doubt on your part, please wait! It will still be there when your child is ready for it. You can get a copy of almost anything on Ebay!

We will be discussing "Fairy Tales and Nature Stories" this coming Saturday, July 10. Please bring stories and even films that you would like to share and discuss either because you feel something is appropriate for a certain age, or would like to explore any concerns.

See you soon!



  1. I agree that you must monitor children s media viewing, a good posting, cheers Marie

  2. its nice that someone is watching out for the little ones. My family always thinks I am nuts for banning certain shows or movies. Thanks for a bit of validation. Is your discussion online or in person? I live in NY so I obviously won't be attending if it is held in texas but I wish I could. Thanks for the analysis!


  3. Got here through the fairy tale group on FB and the discussion of children and exposure interested me as my mother was a grade school teacher all her life.

    Also wondered about the mention of "pioneer school" ... not sure what you're referring to there.

  4. Hello Sharon!

    I haven't posted here for a while. I have been thinking of doing a "Fairy Tale of the Month" Club.

    I'm trying to find the reference to "pioneer school." I am probably talking about a young Waldorf school. I'll try to answer any questions that you have. Please feel free to be a friend on Facebook, too.

    : ) Christine

  5. "When we hear a story, we have to create our own images. When we see a picture (magnified by film) the images enter our brains unfiltered and uncensored by our psyche and remain there forever - fixed, unalterable and un-deletable."

    Yes, yes yes! I just experienced this myself the other day, and I'm an adult! I have been falling asleep reading Harry Potter books for years - like since they first came out in 1999 - but never had a dream about Harry Potter. I have been re-reading and re-watching them all recently so I'm really deep into the imagery. Still, it was a shock when, after falling asleep watching a making-of documentary the other night I had a quite scary dream starring dementors and Voldemort himself. Kind of creepy how those visual images on the screen make such an impact on our internal images. I'm conciously not watching the Percy Jackson movies for this very reason - I want to cherish and keep those images I made in my own mind, thank you very much :)

  6. Thank you for the comment, Alyss! I refused to watch any film of The Lord of the Rings for the same reasons. I did break down and watch them just before the third movie, The Return of the King came out. Luckily, the production was close enough to my own imagination tbat it did enhance the experience. But mind you, I first read the books way back in 1973 or thereabouts and didn't see any film version until 2003, so I had 30 years of "owning" these books. I read the whole trilogy and The Hobbit many times in between.

    I get depressed when I think that most of the younger generations will see the films before reading the books, or never read them at all!