The Wizard of Oz (BFI Film Classics)

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The Wizard of Oz 'was my very first literary influence,' writes Salman Rushdie in his
account of the great MGM children's classic. At the age of ten he had written a story,
'Over the Rainbow', about a colourful fantasy world. But for Rushdie The Wizard of Oz
is more than a children's film, and more than a fantasy. It's a story whose driving
force is the inadequacy of adults, in which 'the weakness of grown-ups forces
children to take control of their own destinies'. And Rushdie rejects the conventional
view that its fantasy of escape from reality ends with a comforting return to home,
sweet home. On the contrary, it is a film that speaks to the exile. The Wizard of Oz
shows that imagination can become reality, that there is no such place like home,
or rather that the only home is the one we make for ourselves.
Rushdie's brilliant insights into a film more often seen than written about are
rounded off with his typically scintillating short story, 'At the Auction of the Ruby
Slippers,' about the day when Dorothy's red shoes are knocked down to $15,000 at a
sale of MGM props …
In his foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of
the BFI Film Classics series, Rushdie looks back to the circumstances in which he
wrote the book, when, in the wake of the controversy surrounding The Satanic Verses
and the issue of a fatwa against him, the idea of home and exile held a particular

Product Details

  • Series: BFI Film Classics
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute; 2 edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844575160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844575169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces

Customer Reviews

Great Oz, Great Rushdie book

10 people found this helpful.
 on February 21, 2004
By J. Holt
A great book for Rushdie — one can feel the limitations perhaps set by the editors on him — usually Rushdie runs on, but here all of his insight and enthusiasm is pared down into an economical essay one can enjoy in less than an afternoon. Oh, it’s a wonderful book on the Wizard movie, too.

A wizard on "Oz"

5 people found this helpful.
 on July 8, 2006
By Jay Dickson
One of the first long pieces Salman Rushdie wrote after the fatwa issued against him by the Ayatollah Khomeini, this charming little 1992 study of THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of their most charming in the BFI catalogue, and tells us perhaps more about the workings of one of the most important living novelists (himself a kind of wizard exiled from home) as it does about the 1939 MGM classic. The monograph consists of two halves: an extended essay on THE WIZARD OF OZ itself, and Rushdie’s by-now famous short story “At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers,” a fantasia on the famous early 70s purchase of one of the many pairs of slippers crafted for the film for what was then the unbelievable price of $15,000. The essay on the film brings up all kinds of intriguing departure points for Rushdie: he emphasizes its importance to his own imaginative work (the depiction of the Widow in MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN, he now realizes, owes much to the unforgettable appearance of Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West), offers surprising analyses of the film’s treatments of exile and return, and compares it to the musicals of Bollywood. The essay disappoints only by being too short: you wish it would go on longer and tell you even more.

…..and your little dog….

 on March 25, 2017
By james f.
Intriguing insight into a movie that is basically part of our DNA. Alas, the short story that closes the book is forgettable.

for a film class

One person found this helpful.
 on December 24, 2006
By Lizzy T.
I really enjoyed this book. I had to read it for a film analysis and aesthetics class, along with many other BFI books, and it was my favorite one. I would have read it even if I weren’t in the class — Rushdie offers a personal take on a classic movie, and his reading (one that says youth is constantly looking for a technicolor world far away from their grounding, drab home life) is one easily relatable. I recommend it to any fan of Rushdie’s, The Wizard of Oz and/or film.

Great book

One person found this helpful.
 on August 30, 2013
By S. Young
I am so happy a friend turned me on to this read. Truly enjoyable and a great way to re-visit the story and the art of character and story development from a different angle. Really wonderful.

Salman Rushdie is pure genius – one of the greatest writers of the modern age

 on February 5, 2015
By anon-bleu
Salman Rushdie is pure genius – one of the greatest writers of the modern age. A brilliant take on The Wizard of Oz – a good read.

Amazing Rushdie!

One person found this helpful.
 on June 22, 2013
By Profesora Latina
Rushdie takes an iconic classic film and synthesizes it to its core. The author of Imaginary Homelands provides his reader with a wonderful lesson in how to analyze film.

Rushdie the essayist and Rushdie the storyteller in one volume…

3 people found this helpful.
 on July 13, 2008
By ewomack
Watching a film armed with a “remote control zapper” can yield insights unknown to the non-stop viewer. After all, freeze frames, with their enviable power to stop time, allow for far more than infinitesimal nanoseconds of reflection. Using the “pause” trigger in this way arguably transforms it into an educational tool.

Quite Nice

One person found this helpful.
 on November 15, 2008
By tierny
It’s impossible to separate The Wizard of Oz from the deep emotion it inspires. The movie rapidly plunges a viewer back into childhood fears/dreams and the context in which one first saw it.

A lovable companion to take with you to ‘Oz’.

9 people found this helpful.
 on January 28, 2002
By darragh o'donoghue
‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a miraculous rarity in the history of cinema. It is an intricately structured work, whose themes, images, narratives and characters echo and refract each other across its story. Surely for this to be possible, we would expect the over-arching organising sensibility of a Great Auteur, a Hitchcock or a Hawks. But ‘Oz’ has none – neither the writer of the source novel, L. Frank Baum; nor the many scriptwriters usually at each others’ throats; nor the producers Mervyn Leroy or Arthur Freed; not the directors, credited and uncredited, can claim the honour of solely creating this masterpiece. Out of a series of accidents came a near-perfect work, just as out of the Big Bang, the intricacy of living organimsms, ‘simply happened’. As Salman Rushdie remarks, ‘Oz’ is ‘an authorless text’.

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