'The Wizard of Oz' - Why this timeless classic continues to capture the hearts of every generation

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Posted: Monday, May 7, 2012 8:00 pm

Dorothy's red slippers, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Cowardly Lion and his quest for "cccccourage"... few films evoke such powerful memories as does the perennial classic, "The Wizard of Oz." The mention of that one film title can instantly spawn a flurry of images and scenes that are forever imprinted in our memories. Whether you longed to skip down the Yellow Brick Road or were scared by the Winged Monkeys (who wasn't?), there's no doubt that each of us has a favorite memory from Dorothy's journey to the Land of Oz and her quest to get back home.

In 2014, this family favorite will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Still a cultural phenomenon, "The Wizard of Oz" has retained the hearts of many generations and is unique in its ability to make parents want to pass down "the Oz experience" to their kids. Many of us can remember how old we were when we first saw the film, what our initial reactions were and how our love for it grew with each progressive time we watched it.

A recent poll by marketing firm Aloft Group found that 99 percent of all respondents had seen the original film, with 71 percent having seen it more than five times and almost half of respondents had seen it more than 10 times. That kind of audience retention and loyalty is incredibly rare and is one that makes "The Wizard of Oz" one of the most heralded films in cinematic history.

When we experience something so memorable in our childhoods, there's a natural inclination to want to share something similar with our children. "The Wizard of Oz" is no different. Watching this film as a family, holding hands as the Wicked Witch of the West sneers, "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too" or rejoicing when the Tin Man finally gets his heart is something that we can do with our kids as a way to connect them to the memories of our own childhoods. (Share your "The Wizard of Oz" memories here.)

In addition to the fond memories, there are so many valuable lessons in the film that revolve around the true human spirit and teach about friendship, the quest for good versus evil, perseverance and self-awareness, all traits that we want to instill in our children. "Adults sense the film's core lessons that resonate with their own development and feel compelled to share this with the next generation," remarks Dr. Richard Warshak, clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "Dorothy's colorful adventures and her successful return home with the help of her friends gave us the security of knowing that we could use our brains, heart and courage to master our anxieties about growing up," he adds.

This may be why viewers keep coming back to it over and over again. There are moments from our childhood that we enjoy revisiting, and "The Wizard of Oz" has served as the vehicle for many of us to return to that time of innocence and wonder. "We feel nostalgia for the children we once were and for the joy we felt at the film's end. Parents cherish the opportunity to introduce their children to the excitement, suspense, and success of entering the world of Oz," says Dr. Warshak.

Whether you've seen it once or 100 times, "The Wizard of Oz" is one of those extremely rare films that has the ability to peel back the layers of a hectic world and take us back to a time that we can oftentimes forget about, a simpler and more innocent time. And in the daily hustle bustle of life, it's comforting to know that "there is no place like home."

What was your favorite memory from watching "The Wizard of Oz" film? You can share it at "The Wizard of Oz" Blog and the best part is that this will automatically enter you into "The Wizard of Oz" Share Your Memories Sweepstakes where you'll be eligible to win some great prizes. Walking down memory lane just might feel like walking down the Yellow Brick Road.

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