Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie’s review of The Wizard of Oz came to my attention after attending the film club at Wimbledon College of Art, where we watched excerpts of the film. It occurred to me that it may be interesting to explore the film further given its strong links to childhood and also because of my lifelong fascination with actress Judy Garland. It seemed that there was a strong link between some of the ideas explored within the film and ideas that were running through my work.


Particularly interesting to me was Rushdie’s focus on the imagery, shapes and constructions that make up the first black and white section of the film. In Kansas, Dorothy’s home, we find a linear landscape that is barren and cold, void of colour or expression. This is the place that Dorothy longs to be taken away from, a place where she has no control over her life and is treated as a child, where her beloved dog is taken away and where she is constantly told to keep out of trouble.


 “She arrives at the farmyard and here (freezing the frame) we see the beginning of what will be a recurring motif. In the scene we have frozen, Dorothy and Toto are in the background, heading for a gate. To the left of the screen is a tree trunk, a vertical line echoing the telegraph poles of the scene before. Hanging from an approximately horizontal branch are a triangle and a circle (actually a rubber tyre). In mid shot are further geometric elements: the parallel lines of the wooden fence, the bisecting diagonal wooden bar gate. Later, when we see the house, the theme of simple geometry is present once again; none of your citified complexity here. Throughout The Wizard of Oz home and safety are represented by such geometrical simplicity, whereas danger and evil are invariably twisty, irregular and misshapen.” (Rushdie, 1992)

(GIF, The wizard of Oz, Martin 2016)

(Theatre of Kansas, Martin 2016)

Questions stimulated by Rushdie's text:


How can we represent worlds through shape and use of imagery?


How can we create worlds, peer into worlds, understand worlds of play, death, childhood, the transient? And In doing so trying to understand how our views of the world are formed.


What are the landscapes that shape our lives?


How are these landscapes influenced by social and political histories and indeed by the current social and political climate?