One of the most famous movies in film history is The Wizard of Oz.
It’s a musical film that came out in 1939.
It stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale—a young girl who ends up traveling to an odd, magical land far from home.
With her dog, Toto, she has to survive a wicked witch and make it back to Kansas and her family.
Considering that the movie is quite dated, you may wonder why it’s so popular even today.
Why Is The Wizard Of Oz So Popular? (10 Reasons)
1. Catchy Songs
The Wizard of Oz is popular because it has some of the catchiest songs in musical history.
Whether it’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the movie features songs that are easy to understand and memorize.
The lyrics can easily get stuck in your head and even if you don’t know the full lyrics, the melodies are easy enough to hum.
Musicals don’t tend to stand the test of time if their songs aren’t memorable or catchy.
If they’re not easy to sing, then they’re not going to appeal to a mass audience.
Everyone from adults to children can quickly catch onto the songs in the movie.
It doesn’t hurt that the majority of the songs are also sung by Judy Garland.
She arguably has one of the best and most recognizable voices in musical history.
She helped make the songs in the film as iconic as they are.
Even if you have never watched the movie before, if you were to hear one of the more popular songs from it, you’d likely know that it came from the movie.
The Wizard of Oz is popular because its songs are popular.
2. Quotable Lines
The songs aren’t the only part of the movie that has made it popular and long-lasting.
The movie is also extremely quotable.
Lines like, “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog, too,” “There’s no place like home,” and “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” are all quoted to this day.
The lines are so iconic that many people now use them in their regular speech.
For example, the Kansas line is something many people say when they feel out of place or they’re not where they’re supposed to be.
The line was so popular that it made its way into American vernacular.
It doesn’t help that other movies have also parodied famous scenes from the movie or used the lines themselves.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see a movie character use the line about not being in Kansas.
More than one movie has also spoofed the “my pretty” line.
The fact that some of the lines from the movie have permeated American vernacular and are still regularly used makes the Wizard of Oz as popular as it is.
It keeps people coming back to it.
3. Its Meaning Changes With Time
The Wizard of Oz is also popular because its meaning changes with the times.
When the movie first aired, America was facing real problems.
The Great Depression had the country in its grip.
Farmers were poor and often starving because of the Dust Bowl that ruined their crops.
It wasn’t a great time in American history.
Those people saw the movie and found that it represented the hardships and dreams of farmers struggling to make ends meet.
America was also on the precipice of joining the second World War.
There was a lot of pushback keeping the country from joining the war, however.
The movie, which was all about Dorothy trying to find a way home, could have represented the desire to stay at home rather than explore the dangers of foreign lands.
As the years passed, the meaning of the movie also changed.
New audience members view it from their perspectives and derive new meanings from it.
Some might see the movie as a stand against industrialism and consumerism.
Others might simply see it as a tale of friendship.
You could say that the film is ageless since its meaning continues to change with each generation that watches it.
Some simply see it as fun entertainment while others derive greater meaning from it.
This has allowed the movie to age gracefully.
Other older movies have lost their luster because what they represented no longer matters or is even around anymore.
Since they don’t resonate with audiences, they’re lost in time.
The Wizard of Oz is popular because it has managed to remain relevant with each generation.
4. Pits Human Survival Against Great Odds
Another reason the Wizard of Oz is popular is that it tells a gripping tale of human survival against great odds.
It’s a humanist tale.
Dorothy never goes to a church asking for help.
She doesn’t pray to a God.
Instead, she tries to figure out a solution to the problem on her own.
While she does get help, it’s from other living creatures and not religious creatures.
As such, her story is relatable to many different people.
Everyone can relate to a story about overcoming a struggle.
No matter how small or large, everyone has encountered an obstacle at some point in their life.
They had to figure out a solution to the problem that they were facing.
Dorothy’s triumph, thus, is also the viewer’s triumph.
They celebrate with her when she returns home because it reminds them that they’re also capable of overcoming obstacles.
Humans can do great things when they put their minds to something or work together.
That sort of message is something that remains relevant to audiences no matter the generation.
The movie is as popular as it is because Dorothy and her story are relatable since it’s a story of a human overcoming her struggles to achieve a goal.
5. Emphasizes The Importance Of Friendship
The Wizard of Oz is also popular because it shows the power and importance of friendship.
Throughout the film, Dorothy encounters odd beings who end up sharing her desire to speak to the Wizard of Oz.
Although there are quite a few differences among the group, Dorothy becomes very good friends with each being.
They learn how to support each other very quickly and cover for each other’s weaknesses.
When one gets into trouble, that individual isn’t left behind.
The friends work together to try and help their friend out of the predicament.
The friends even help Dorothy leave Oz even though they know it means they’ll never see her again.
Dorothy may have made it to Oz on her own, but there’s no question that having her friends there assured her of her victory.
This sort of tale is popular because it’s something that people can relate to.
Friends are an important part of anyone’s life.
They’re there to offer an ear and a shoulder when life is hard.
They’re also there to help you blow off steam.
When you’re stressed, a trip with your friends might be just what the doctor ordered.
Your fondest memories might even be ones shared with your friends.
Even those who may not have the strongest friend group might enjoy the film.
It gives them an idea of what the ideal friend group looks like.
For a brief time, they can connect with Dorothy and experience the love and support she gets from her friends.
The Wizard of Oz is popular because it depicts a strong friend group that people can often relate to.
6. Strong Female Lead
Another reason the Wizard of Oz is popular is that the main character of the movie is a woman.
It’s important to remember that the movie came out in 1939.
At that point, women still didn’t have the same kind of rights and equality guaranteed to men.
In film, women were often still props or plot devices rather than living, breathing characters with goals.
While that was starting to change, it still wasn’t the norm.
The movie showed what a female lead could be like.
Judy Garland wasn’t the first pick for the character of Dorothy Gale.
Originally, the studio wanted Shirley Temple for the role because she was the most popular child actor at the time.
The filmmakers stuck to their choice, however, and pushed for Garland to take the role.
The film then went on and showed the young Dorothy Gale flung far from home into a mystical land.
With only her dog as her companion for a portion of the journey, she braved several terrors and obstacles before making her way back home.
The Wizard of Oz is a feminist tale at its very heart.
It shows the strength, heart, courage, and grit of women.
Dorothy wasn’t perfect.
She made mistakes.
Yet, the film showed her growth.
This has made it popular because, in terms of film history, it’s an important one.
It showed the film industry the kind of roles that women could handle if given the chance.
7. An American Fairy Tale
The Wizard of Oz is a purely American fairy tale.
A lot of fairy tales that get told on the big screen are European in nature.
European fairy tales have regularly been adapted for television and movies through the years.
American fairy tales are few and far between.
A large part of that is because most cinema comes from white filmmakers.
Their families came from Europe, so those are the tales that they know the best.
Not enough work has gone into adapting the tales of indigenous people in America.
That said, the Wizard of Oz demonstrated that America could come up with a fairy tale just as well as Europe could.
Everything about the film is American.
Dorothy’s home is a struggling farm in Kansas.
Even in the books, which is what the movie was based on, the Emerald City is a metaphor for the American Dream realized.
There’s no starvation and everyone has plenty of money to spend on what they want.
There are aspects of the film that are clearly American.
That makes it popular because American audiences can relate to it.
There’s something familiar about the film that makes it comforting.
There’s also a bit of pride in it.
This was a fairy tale created in America and, as many things made in the United States tend to be, there’s a lot of pride about that origin.
Watching the movie is considered patriotic in the eyes of some people.
It’s a way to celebrate being American.
8. Use Of Color
One of the coolest parts of The Wizard of Oz is when it shifts from brown and white to full-blown color.
The use of color is another reason why the film is as popular as it is.
Back when the film was in production, colored movies were still relatively new.
The technology had yet to be perfected.
Even sound was something that engineers were still perfecting.
The film didn’t just use color either.
They pushed it all the way.
The idea was to make the land of Oz seem fantasy-like.
The rich colors made it dreamy and distinct from the dull Kansas that Dorothy had left.
Besides being a visual feast, the fact that the film uses color is also a reason why it has remained as popular as it has.
Not a lot of people enjoy watching black and white films.
It can be difficult to immerse yourself in the story because there isn’t any color.
People also tend to find black and white films boring.
The fact that the film used color means that it’s more approachable for people.
If it was still black and white, then they might not have an interest in watching it.
Its use of overblown color has helped it age even better.
Today, it isn’t uncommon to watch movies or shows that use a lot of colors.
It’s what some viewers might even expect.
As such, the film has aged well and kept up with viewer preferences over the years.
9. Ideal For Every Family Member
The Wizard of Oz is a family movie.
It doesn’t contain content that is inappropriate for children to watch.
That said, the movie also has some dark imagery and adult-oriented jokes.
As such, the movie is ideal for each family member no matter their age.
Children might enjoy the silly songs and bright colors.
Teenagers and young adults might identify with Dorothy or one of her friends.
Adults will appreciate the darker, scarier elements and tongue-in-cheek jokes.
It appeals to everyone.
Because it’s ideal for family members of all ages, there isn’t a lot of argument over watching it.
Everyone will get something out of it.
10. Often Airs During The Holidays
A final reason why the Wizard of Oz is popular is that the film industry does a good job of keeping it relevant.
You can often find the movie playing during the holidays.
While it isn’t a Christmas movie, a lot of families make watching it a part of their holiday traditions.
It’s a great tradition for non-religious families, too, because it’s a humanist story.
The holidays are usually a time when families spend time together.
Watching movies is a great way to do that.
Since the film usually airs during the holidays, it’s common for people to watch it and enjoy it.
Since it continues to air each holiday, it will always get introduced to new generations and maintain its popularity.
The Wizard of Oz is a popular and important movie.
Its depiction of a strong, female lead and its ever-changing meaning has allowed it to remain relevant to audiences.
Its use of color and catchy songs also helps embed it in everyone’s memories.