It’s holiday movie season, and as I again watched the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz last week, it reinforced the powerful role it has played in my thinking throughout my life. I began to wonder how many others have also been influenced by a line or image from a favorite movie.
There were quotes within Oz which informed me as a child and stayed with me. Most were uttered by the Wizard himself as he attempted to give Dorothy’s companions what they sought. “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others,” he tells the Tin Man, wise words that have guided my own approach to friends and family. He says to the Cowardly Lion, “You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.” In other words, select your fights carefully and never be afraid to avoid conflict. My favorite, unforgettable observation was provided by the Scarecrow: “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” Yes, Scarecrow, they do.
Another wisdom-providing film was also made before I was born. In 1946’s It’s A Wonderful Life, self-sacrificing George Bailey defends his working class neighbors to the uncaring, ethically-challenged Mr. Potter. “Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this ‘rabble’ you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?” This line reinforced the profound importance of empathy and fairness. George’s guardian angel Clarence explains, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” and “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.” They’re essential words to lean upon whenever we’re feeling down about ourselves.
Words and images can have tremendous power and, like public relations, movies often provide us with highly impactful messages. Which have left an impression on you? Your thoughts?