71 Years Over the Rainbow: Blackwolf on the Power of Oz
To those of you who have been faithful to it in return ..... and to the Young in Heart ..... we dedicate this picture.
And with those words begins perhaps the most celebrated motion-picture fantasy of all time, done as only Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer could do it. 71 years ago today, dearests, The Wizard of Oz emerged from the streets of Culver City, California. Lyman Frank Baum's singlehanded Multiverse, now 110 years young, remains magical and forever unchanged. There is no Mortal living, your humble Dragonmaster included, who has not in some way, in some measure, been inspired or influenced by this one film, supervised by Mervyn LeRoy, produced and directed by Victor Fleming, and starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets.
Many are the times, dearests, when I have had to read the now almost 50 published books set in the Land of Oz and Vicinity, ruled these days by the wise and watchful Ozma, and still famous as home to Dorothy Gale and her circle of followers. What do we learn, other than the fact that there's no place like home? Well, that for all its faults, ours remains still the most adventurous of all worlds, and that there's still room for Imagination --- as long as someone's around to take on the additional and even more important responsibility of Defender of Hope.
As you know, that's exactly what happened when my seven Wizardly superiors, the Grand High Istari, chose me to assume my duties as Dragonmaster: because they understood that someone was needed to defend Imagination against all its enemies, wherever they might be. It is a privilege to serve thus, and one not taken lightly. So I know something of how Milady Ozma feels. For she, too, rules Oz for that very purpose; and, like me, she takes not her duties lightly.
If I know my Oz, and I do, I know that there are others marking this magical milestone: namely, our colleagues at Wicked, that ever delicious Broadway musical based on Gregory Maguire's chronicle of the days when the Witches of Oz were friends. As I type even now, the Wicked cast and crew are throwing their own Oz party. And then, of course, there's tough old Jerry Maren, one of the few survivors of the Singer Midgets, and he who doth represent ye Lollipop Guilde ("We wish to welcome you to Munchkinland!"). He, too, I imagine, is having an Oz party of his own.
Ultimately, my children, what has made Oz so darned magical across these aeons is that there remains in that happy kingdom a legacy which none of us on this Earth will ever forget: the simple truth that Imagination will remain evergreen so long as there remain those whose destiny it is to safeguard, defend, and cherish it. As ever, your Dragonmaster stands prepar'd to accomplish all of the above; and it does this ancient heart good knowing that Ozma, too, is there to safeguard, defend, and cherish the forces of Imagination.
That said, herewith, a toast to a 71-year-old movie about a girl, three weird guys, a land ruled by a Wizard in conflict with a green-bodied Witch --- and, oh yeah, a quest for brains, heart, courage, and the way back to the wonderful world of Kansas, U.S.A. There won't be any escape from Oz tonight, folks!