|Mrs. Gulch harasses Dorothy and Auntie Em.|
But one side note on "Oz" mentioned by critics is its lack of story; it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Don't blame James Franco, who reportedly does a passionless walk-through. It's more the fault of having not much to work with outside of the splash-mountain pastiche of colorful set pieces.
It's important to remember that the original 1939 "Wizard of Oz" was more than a fairy tale romp. It came out during the heart of the Great Depression, and much of its imagery centered on the hard times endured by farm families in the dust bowl. The Kansas scenes are shot in harsh black and white and show Dorothy's family living at subsistence level. Mrs. Gulch, the snooty landowner and movie villain early on, is a heartless landowner whose main purpose seems to be to get Dorothy "and your little dog too."
Once Dorothy accidentally kills the evil witch and sets the Munchkins free, she is a kind of humble savior. The vivid technicolor scenes in the land of Oz are part of her journey away from her chores and hard living. But it is telling that all she wants to do is go home; her life may be hard, but her family is also her life.
While no Steinbeckian drama like "Grapes of Wrath," the original movie "Oz" was more rooted in a parable of escape and individual achievement than the modern "Oz." A studio does not generally spend north of $200 million to remind us of today's modern economic woes. Leave that to the cheaper indies. But do adult audiences really want to see pure fantasy without at least some underpinnings of reality? Just asking....