Message from the Spirit through The WIZ

29 03 2010

HTP-U (Peace) Beloved

Hope this post brings you much light and encouragement.  The other day I had just finished talking to my father about my work and how it related to us culturally. Shortly afterward because my little niece was running around and she loves music, my father decided to put on The Wiz.  Great movie, I don’t care what anyone says, the late 70s and early 80s was the BOMB. For those who don’t know the Wiz is the best retelling of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but it is done from an African American cultural perspective.

Anyway, as we sat watching this movie, which by the way my little niece wasn’t even interested and kept playing, we were all singing the songs.  A nostalgic moment of course, because it had been a while since I had seen this film and funny how I still remembered some scenes and forgot others. One of my favorite parts of the movie is the when Dorothy (played by Diana Ross) and the Rift Raft (as the Wiz calls them) goes to Emerald City and they are jammin’ out to the different colors. Green is Mean, Red is Dead and Gold is Bold.

As I continued to watch the movie another favorite scene came up, which was when the gang goes to Evillene’s Sweat Shop, the Wicked Witch of the West (played by Mabel King), which was dark red.  I didn’t see the connection yet. Until, after Dorothy kill’s Evillene and tries to get back home, where she finds that the Wiz cannot help her.

Now, what’s interesting about this is that in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz 1939 film, the Good Witch of the South was changed to the Good Witch of the North. When the creators of the Wiz retold the story and made it into a film, the changed the character back to the Good Witch of the South, played by the great Lena Horne. Then’s when it hit me…

“Ummm….Does this look familiar?” I heard.  Noticed the maa aankh below the red region symbolizes TASETT (the evil, physical, hard labor, desert, impotent, etc.) and black region symbolizes KAMTA (the good, spiritual, easy, prosperous, fertile, night sky, heavens, etc.).  I am not sure if the creators of the Wiz were aware of this cultural significance or not. What I do know is that the Wiz makes a lot more sense psychologically than the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  What do you think?

Check out Prayer to the Black Christ

For a complete discourse and in-depth analysis see:
MAA AANKH: Finding God the Afro-American Way, by Honoring the Ancestors and Guardian Spirits.



2 responses

24 01 2016

It can be argued that ‘The Wiz’s’ decidedly unattractive locations sadly detracted from the actors stellar performances. Whatever the film’s budget was spent on, many of its sets got short shrift. That aside, the wonderful cast really did put their heart & soul into their roles & sang their guts out. Since it’s established early on that Diana Ross’s Dorothy is a super shy teacher, her age didn’t bother me. Her living situation is something many families with limited incomes can relate to. Lots of things can hold you back in life that may or may not be in your control. This film addresses the ones you can control.

I agree with you that when aimed at a black audience, ‘The Wiz’ cleverly succeeds in crafting emotional & psychological subtexts based on the realities of living in today’s world that the original Oz film (in all fairness) simply couldn’t / wouldn’t address in the time it was made.

I think the colors used in the film were purposely chosen for the reasons you mentioned, especially if this form of spirituality was “in vogue” in the ’70’s. The people who wrote the screenplay & choreographed the scenes seemed to be masters at getting their messages through subconscious imagery.

Even if the colors were used as a warning (by really listening to the lyrics), the visual impact of seeing such beautiful people strutting their stuff proudly in the center of Oz city, looking glorious, is as important psychologically for people to see as the “Brand New Day” scene when the ugly shells are cast off & burned to ashes as the freed people realize how gorgeous they truly are.

Some critics ragged on the ‘Believe In Yourself’ song as being too schmaltzy but those critics miss the entire point of this film. This song is so important that it’s sung twice by two powerhouse singers. It’s a message kids NEED to hear & don’t hear enough. Dorothy’s age in this version of The Wizard of Oz is more relevant than the average critic may realize. The messages in The Wiz are not just for children starting out in life but also for adults starting over & moving on with theirs.

‘The Wiz’ may suffer from technical issues but I think most critics just don’t get how it works so well on an emotional, gut level, which propels the film’s underlying messages that are so important to absorb.

24 01 2016

It was a ritualistic movie done from our perspective. Great analysis. Thanks for the comments.

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