Sunday, December 18, 2011

The latest Oz movie watching

With Dorothy of Oz coming out next summer, and Oz: The Great and Powerful following in spring 2013, you'd think there wouldn't be an Oz movie out right now. And you'd be wrong — sort of. I'd heard about The Way and how it was inspired in part by The Wizard of Oz, and thought I'd try to go go see it when I go out to my folks' place for Christmas. However, I found out that it was playing right here in the small farming community I now call home! I was surprised, as I didn't think this small word-of-mouth kid of movie ever played out here. But I was off to see The Way!

First off, I can tell you that is is a good movie, and I really enjoyed it on that level. The story is about Tom (Martin Sheen), a California eye doctor who's not having a good relationship with his adult son, Daniel (played by Sheen's real life son, Emilio Estevez, who also co-wrote the script and directed). When Daniel dies in a small town in France, Tom goes to recover his body, and impulsively decides to undertake the pilgrimage that Daniel had barely started. The Camino de Santiago is eight hundred kilometers from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain, and it's not easy to do on your own, so Tom meets up with all kinds of characters along the way, from all over the world. He eventually settles in with Joost from Amsterdam, Sarah from Canada, and Jack from Ireland, and they help each other in more ways than one. It's much more of a character study than a story, and all four of them have their own issues to deal with.

But is it Ozzy? I can honestly say, not really. To be sure, one can draw parallels between Tom's three companions and Dorothy's new friends she met on the way to the Emerald City. They even meet Jack in a hayfield, not very dissimilar to Dorothy's meeting the Scarecrow. But it's not a true parallel to The Wizard of Oz. There is no outright equivalent to the Emerald City, the Wizard, or the Wicked Witch of the West. And the themes and ideas in The Way (and, for that matter, The Wizard of Oz) are universal enough that they don't have to have come from any particular source. In fact, if Estevez hadn't mentioned The Wizard of Oz as an inspiration in interviews, I would probably have never made the connection from just watching the movie. (Of course, if Estevez had never mentioned The Wizard of Oz, I wouldn't have heard about The Way in the first place, and wouldn't have had any special desire to see it.) So as a movie fan, I say go. But as an Oz fan, I can tell you to take a pass if you want to. But I'll be curious to see the extras on the DVD release.

No comments: