Why should THE WIZARD OF OZ be linked in any way with STAR WARS? Because, because, because….because THE WIZARD OF OZ is the greatest American fairy tale, and because STAR WARS (parts 3-5) may be the most popular modern American myth (our version of Goethe). Because both stories have comparable, even interchangeable, mythological characters. THE WIZARD OF OZ and STAR WARS are not simply entertaining or moral, but archetypal, guiding us toward a greater knowledge of our inner lives. And because both stories have comparable, even interchangeable, mythological characters, more or less begging for comparison. Now, pay attention you must, or the balloon might fly off without you.
THE WISE OLD MAN:
STAR WARS: Yoda. We assume he is male, although he could be a hermaphrodite who reproduces by budding. We know that he is old.
WIZARD OF OZ: You might think that the Wizard of Oz would be the first choice since the book is named after him, since he has some knowledge of ballooning, and because he has insight at opportune moments. But the best choice is Glinda, the good witch of the North, who I realize isn’t a man or a hermaphrodite, but she could be old.
THE CLEVER HELPER:
STAR WARS: R2 D2, if only we could understand him.
WIZARD OF OZ: Scarecrow, if only he had a brain. Since he didn’t, we have to wonder if he was computer driven all along. (“I may not know much. But I do have smart fibers stuffed throughout my body and a computer chip in my head that either is the central processor of all my functions or is a pet chip that can be scanned to identify my owner if I become lost. Now you know why I need a brain.”)
THE YOUNG HERO:
STAR WARS: Luke Skywalker, whose last name never sounded believable to me.
WIZARD OF OZ: Dorothy, who was never even given a last name.
These characters are nearly interchangeable, so much so that they could appear in the same movie. Following is an exert from PART VIII: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI TO OZ:*
(LUKE’S SPACESHIP HAS SUNK INTO A SWAMP AND APPEARS TO BE UNRETRIEVABLE)
YODA: Use the force you must.
DOROTHY: What’s the force?
WIZARD OF OZ: Darned if I know, but I’ve got something better than the force. It’s called a medal.
LUKE (WHINING): Just how is a medal supposed to get my spaceship out of the swamp?
YODA: A medal will help you not. Ignore the man behind the curtain you must.
DOROTHY (WHINING): Without Luke’s spaceship I’ll never get back to Kansas.
R2 D2: Beep eee bong booozasee beep…
SCARECROW: Now I don’t know much about anything, and I surely do not speak robotese, but I think he wants you to use the ruby red slippers.
YODA: Yes, use the slippers you must. Strong with the force are they.
DOROTHY: OK, I’ll try.
GLINDA, GOOD WITCH OF THE NORTH: No Dorothy, you cannot try, you must do!
YODA: Used my line she did.
Further comparisons are necessary:
THE BRAVE AND CUDDLY ANIMAL HELPERS:
STAR WARS: Jewbacca. Aren’t you amazed at how much he can say by just going aaaaaaaarrrhh.
WIZARD OF OZ: The Cowardly Lion,** who should just be going aaaaaaarrrhh, but instead can actually talk.
THE INHUMAN HELPER:
STAR WARS: C3PO. He’s just a little gay, don’t you think? He could come out of his android closet in millions of languages (What, androids can’t be gay?)
WIZARD OF OZ: Tin Man. Wouldn’t Tin Man and C3PO make a great couple?
THE EVIL VILLAIN:
STAR WARS: Darth Vader.
WIZARD OF OZ: The wicked witch of the West.
And now, another scene from THE RETURN OF THE JEDI TO OZ:
(LUKE, DOROTHY AND COMPANY ARE ON THE TRAIL OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST IN ORDER TO RETRIEVE HER BROOMSTICK FOR EITHER YODA OR THE WIZARD, IT’S NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR WHICH. THE PARTY NOTICES A SIGN WARNING THEM OF SPOOKS.)
C3PO: Master Luke, I am conversant in over 6 million languages, and must therefore inform you that this sign is warning us that there are spooks in the near vicinity. Perhaps it would be wise for us to leave this area as quickly as possible.
TIN MAN: Spooks? Why, I don’t believe in spooks! Whoa! (THE TIN MAN IS LEVITATED OFF THE GROUND AND THEN DROPPED)
LION: I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks…
DARTH VADER (stepping out of the shadows): The dark side of the force is more powerful than spooks! (BREATHES LOUDLY THROUGH MASK, THEN FACES LUKE) I have been expecting you.
LUKE: What are you doing here Vader?
VADER: I have been sent by the wicked witch of the West to retrieve you. Together, we will turn you to the dark side of the force. I have not foreseen what happens to Dorothy.
TIN MAN: What happened to the flying monkeys?
TIN MAN: Or you’ll what, make a monkey out of us?
LION: Yeah, what he said.
VADER: You will die for your insolence Tin Man. (WAVES HIS HAND, WHICH CAUSES IT TO RAIN. THE TINMAN IS BEGINNING TO RUST.)
C3PO: Please wait Mr. Vader, if the Tin Man rusts he’ll be no good to me whatsoever. Can’t we make a deal of some sort?
VADER: What kind of deal?
C3PO: All we want is the broomstick of the wicked witch of the West. Perhaps we could trade for it. I think trading the ruby slippers for the broomstick would be most fair.
VADER: I do not want the slippers. I want Luke. Together we can defeat the wicked witch of the West and rule all Oz together as father and son.
LUKE: What are you saying?
VADER: Luke, I am your father.
C3PO: Dear me, this is a plot twist, isn’t it. Well don’t just stand there Tin Man, do something.
Tin Man does do something. You get to choose the ending.
a. Takes out his oil can and points it at Vader like a weapon, saying: “Hey big guy, don’t make me use this.”
b. Puts down his oil can and brandishes his ax, saying: “Hey big guy, don’t make me use this.”
c. Puts down his ax and pounds on his empty chest, saying: “Hey big guy, we have a lot in common. Neither of us has a heart. I bet the Wizard of Oz could help us.”
d. Winks at Vader, saying: “Hey big guy, what say we split this scene.”
e. Decides that just standing there is the best strategy for the moment, and does not say: “Hey big guy.”
* PART VIII: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI TO OZ comes before PART IX: THE WIZARD OF STAR WARS. Both of these movies come after PART VII: WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE A HOUSE FELL ON THE WICKED WITCH OF THE EAST?
** In the book, the Cowardly Lion is not so cowardly that he wouldn’t have actually eaten Toto if Dorothy hadn’t slapped him on the nose. I know it’s a little late to bringing the book into this thing, but I knew that readers would want to know the truth.