Category: Art
Film Analysis

Comparison between the Wizard of Oz and Spirited Away

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an old story written in 1900 as children’s book by L. Frank Baum but has become classics said to be more than a children’s novel. In 1939, its world-famous film adaptation The Wizard of Oz had been shot. The movie is about a young girl, Dorothy. She is from Kansas and lives a simple life with her uncle and aunty. Dorothy has a dog named Toto. In the story, she gets transported to another world, Oz, by a tornado that carries her with Toto in their farmhouse. Dorothy and Toto wake up in a strange land, far away from Kansas. Accidentally, the farmhouse falls on the Wicked Witch of the East, and this causes the little people of Munchkin to declare Dorothy a heroine. There are two witches in the land, a Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the East. The good witch explains to Dorothy how honorable her landing had been to the inhabitants. Dorothy is treated with respect, and she gets protection from the good witch, Glinda.

The story is symbolic of the history of the political and monetary system in America. It was written in 1900 to narrate the happenings of the 1800’s political America. Dorothy represents the American people, President Theodore Roosevelt or the people’s values. She is young and so is the country during the 1800s. Despite being a little girl, she is determined, loyal and resourceful. Her dog, Toto, represents the average Americans who go unnoticed, but most often are aware of the evil happenings in the government. Toto is the only one aware of the witch’s fraudulent nature. It is because of Toto that they all get to find out the ingenuity of the Witch. Dorothy’s relatives, Aunty Em, and Uncle Henry represent the farmers in the country. The cyclone that transports Dorothy and her dog to Munchkin land are symbolic of political turmoil and the expected Silverite victory of the farmers in the late 1800s. During the time when the story was written, farmers were going through hard times. They received poor to pay for the goods they produced.

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Glinda, the good witch, asks Dorothy to follow the yellow road made of bricks. The road is supposed to lead her to the Wizard of Oz, who is the wisest in Munchkin land and will help Dorothy to get to Kansas. The wizard lives in Emerald City. On the way, the girl discovers that there are many people headed there to ask favors and questions from the wizard. After a long struggle of getting to Emerald City, friends discover that the wizard is only a fraudulent con who manipulates people’s situations yet their solutions are within their reach.

The movie focuses on analyzing the country’s situation. The Wizard of Oz stands for any fraudulent leader. He manipulates people’s minds to maintain his position in power. Glinda is a good witch who protects Dorothy. She is seen as the electorate, to be precise, the Northern Electorate of America. The Emerald City is presented as a far land, and many people go there looking for solutions. In the story, Emerald City is a symbol of paper money. Americans are in pursuit of economic stability that is controlled by leaders like the Wizard of Oz who are fraudulent and unscrupulous. The long walk known as the brick road that goes down Emerald City is the struggle that Americans faced during the 1800s period in their quest for economic stability and attempt to resolve the issue of Gold Standard.

The Wizard of Oz teaches the story of American history. To date, it is still as relevant as it was in the 1900s; thus it can be said to have come-of-age. Some characters are in need of different things. There is a Coward Lion in search of courage, a Woodsman in pursuit of a heart, Dorothy in need of a solution to get home and a Scarecrow in search of a brain. All that these characters needed was within their reach. The only way they could find out how to achieve it was by appreciating themselves and acknowledging the situation. Dorothy wears silver shoes to go down the yellow road to Emerald City. This symbolism speaks out clearly on the financial situation in the country. At that time, the monetary issues in the country had divided the voters into two. There were Goldbugs and Silverites.

The second movie is Spirited Away. This is a Japanese animation which teaches Japanese culture and history. It is a coming-of-age story with symbolic meaning, just like The Wizard of Oz. The story is about the current capitalist state in Japan. It is a critique of Japan’s capitalism history. The movie analyzes the capitalistic nature of Japan in relation to its cultural and religious background. Spirited Away analyzes Japan of 1868-1912, during the Meiji period. Modernization was taking root in the country, changing even religious practices. Japan was experiencing foreign interference from the Western world. It was slowly transforming into a capitalist society.

The capitalist forces are represented by the spirits in the movie. The young girl, Chihiro, is a symbol of Japan. She interacts with different spirits as she travels. Chihiro travels in spirit, and her parents are converted into pigs by a witch. Like Dorothy, who wanted to get back to Kansas, her quest is to get back to the human form and transform her parents from pigs back to human beings. The transformation of Chihiro from the human form into spirit is symbolic of the Edo period from 1603 to 1867 when Japan was controlled by Samurais and the period of 1868-1912 when Western forces took over Japan.

From the stories, it is evident that the Wizard of Oz represents the fraudulent leaders in power while in the spirited world, Yubaba, the witch, represents the western forces. Both Yubaba and the Wizard of Oz exercise control over the people of the land. These circumstances are relevant even in present-day politics. The movies are said to be coming of age films as they describe the conditions that face both America and Japan from ancient times.

Is Masculinity Changing Today? The Role of the Hero in True Grit (1969) and True Grit (2010)

True Grit (1969) has its hero, a 14-year-old girl, Mattie, who sets out to avenge for the death of her father with the assistance of Rooster, her helper she had hired. She is a farm girl, but a tough one who holds strongly to her virtues. Mattie is tough enough to go into a territory which many men are not willing to enter, even for a handsome price. She gets help from Cogburn, a one-eyed man, who goes with a ranger from Texas, LaBoeuf, who intends to pursue Chaney for the murder of a politician.

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Masculinity is seen to have changed at this point in the story. The hero in the film is a girl, 14 years old, who is more determined to enter a dangerous area than the young men from the area would be. LaBoeuf and Cogburn are not willing to take Mattie along. They find many occasions to leave her, but she resurfaces after all. Her role in the movie is to portray feminism. She depicts an untrained girl with the fighting spirit of a soldier. Cogburn views Mattie in a masculine form after unsuccessfully trying to desert her before they leave in pursuit of Chaney.

Women in the west are either homemakers, providers of the pleasurable company or decency upholders who aim to have their men civilized. Mattie is an exceptional case who appears to them as more of a tomboy than a feminine creature. The two men are traditional in their views. They want to leave without Mattie because they undermine her strength and view her more as a nuisance than as a helping hand. Mattie changes the view of western women. She takes the leading role in directing the resolve of the two men.

True Grit (2010) embraces more aspects of modernity as compared to True Grit of 1969. The characters are the same as in the previous version of the film, but, in 2010’s variant, Mattie gives a narration on the death of her father, when she was 14 years old. Mattie is still a determined young girl. The movie is in the first person as it is a narration. This time, LaBoeuf and Cogburn refuse to take passage on a ferry with Mattie. Mattie takes a horse and crosses the river, an aspect which shows her strength not only as a character but as a woman. Her role is to represent strong feminist values. Masculinity is seen to change as feminism takes the day.

The 2010 version is a narration by Mattie of what happened when she was 14 years old, 25 years ago. She managed to kill Chaney, but her hand was amputated as a result of the poisonous snakebite she received from a rattlesnake. The movie does not end as a narration but as the present happening. Mattie is a strong unmarried woman who chose to take the path of solitude. After 25 years, she tries to find Cogburn to give him his reward but gets to him 3 days after his death. She buries him at her family cemetery and reflects on her experience with him in pursuit of Chaney.

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Comparing the 1969 and 2010 versions, there are many differences and similarities. In the 1969 version, Cogburn is impressed by Mattie’s determination to cross the river on horseback and compares her to himself. Mattie is described in relation to Cogburn. She is viewed as masculine, which would be termed as a tomboy. In the 2010 version, Cogburn says nothing when he realizes that Mattie is determined to cross the river on horseback when they deny her use of their ferry. A mutual relationship between them develops as a result of this interaction. Cogburn does not say it out loud, but he identifies Mattie as an equal. Mattie and Cogburn have a conflict in 2010 version over who has true grit. This is a sign that they are both tough, and Cogburn is aware of Mattie’s masculinity but does not appreciate it. Mattie manages to shoot Chaney two times and kills him. Cogburn does not claim his price and LaBoeuf leaves for good. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the two are well-trained men who do not manage to kill the villain, but the girl they undermined from the start maintains her determination and proves to be the true grit.

The two versions of the movie describe a patriarchal society. Mattie is socially oppressed especially because of her feminist nature, rather viewed as masculinity. She remains socially oppressed and ends up not married in the 2010 version. Cogburn takes the fatherly role in both films. This is a symbol of the maintenance of the family aspect despite masculinity aspect has changed. He also represents the maintenance of law and order.

The 1969 version ends with Mattie as a 14-year-old as Cogburn rides away, leaving her unconscious in the hands of a physician. The close bond between Mattie and Cogburn is portrayed when Mattie asks to be buried next to him upon her death. The 2010 film is a narration in the first person. At the end of the film, Cogurn dies and is buried near Mattie’s home. Mattie has an amputated arm to remind her of her bravery and vengeful act for her father’s murder. She remains unmarried as a result of her masculinity. This is viewed as the end for most female heroes who fit male shoes. Cogburn’s death in the movie signifies a failed masculinity. Mattie is left still standing, despite her amputated arm. The two movies glorify feminism and masculinity in women.

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