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Paying tribute to ''The Wizard of Oz''

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When movie directors look to make their on-screen images resonate these days, they seldom stray from their own backyards; that is, they return to The Wizard of Oz. Call it Ozmosis, the process of fusing elements of the 1939 classic into one’s own film. Hipster directors who grew up watching the movie on TV make nods to Oz in a number of current and recent movies. Among them: Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, Alek Keshishian’s Truth or Dare, and David Lynch’s 1990 Wild at Heart, which some critics dubbed a modern-day Wizard of Oz.

The most commonly borrowed gimmick is switching from black and white to color and back, suggesting shifting levels of reality, or that ”we’re not in Kansas anymore.” In the new Kafka, the title character (Jeremy Irons) crawls from a filing drawer into the movie’s sinister black-and-white castle and continues into a full-color world. (Is it a coincidence that Oz creator L. Frank Baum took his book title from a filing drawer marked O-Z?) For last year’s Madonna rockumentary, Truth or Dare, director Keshishian also used black and white as a reality check, color for the singer’s in-concert bedroom-fantasy escapades. Van Sant flipped the process in 1991’s Private Idaho when he shot black and white for most of the dream and fantasy sequences and color for the ”real” ones.

If you’re not totally over the rainbow yet, here are some other Oz outtakes:

Oz’s bubble-wrapped Good Witch is mimicked by Wild at Heart‘s Sheryl Lee.

The ”great halls” in both Kafka and Beauty and the Beast are nearly identical with Wizard‘s vestibule, where Dorothy and Co. are introduced to the ”great and powerful Oz.”

The fading rose in Beast is a suspiciously close cousin to the Wicked Witch’s infamous hourglass.

Private Idaho‘s spinning house also falls from the sky and slams home, though this time with no witch casualty.

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