Oz the Great and Powerful – Review
I have been delaying writing this review because there is so much to write about, so many things to discuss that it’s almost overwhelming. Where to start?! First off, let me just say that I loved it. It was fun and beautiful and funny (the whole audience was laughing out loud all throughout the movie) and fantastically creative and generally very clean with some positive messages, and to top it off, it is pregnant with rich opportunities for discussion about faith and God and worldviews and prayer and miracles and … well, like I said, it’s just pregnant with opportunities.
How Oz Connects with the Bible
Let’s start with some parallels between Oz and the Bible, more specifically Jesus.
Oz and Jesus both save people. They both set captives free (Finley, Isaiah 61:1) and make the lame to walk (China girl, John 5:1-15). They both are a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 61) and acquire followers (Finley and China girl, the disciples). Both have very public deaths and resurrections. And in both cases, it’s important people believe in them to be saved (Glinda tells Oz that belief in him will be the people’s salvation; John 3:16).
Oh and this was too cool not to at least mention even though it’s not about Oz and Jesus: the scene where Evanora eats the poisoned apple and transforms bears striking parallels to when Eve at the forbidden fruit in the garden—not just because they ate forbidden fruit, but why they ate it, and what changed when they ate it, and the loss of innocence, etc.
How Oz DOESN’T Connect with the Bible
For all the parallels between Oz and Jesus however, there are some major, significant differences.
I would say there are three major differences between Oz and Jesus.
- Their power: Oz was a fake and Jesus was not. Oz’s “miracles” were all scams, tricks and cons. Jesus’ miracles were actually miraculous – he even raised the dead.
- Their hearts: Oz is a man of very, shall we say, questionable morals who is redeemed (or at least much improved) in the end because of the support and belief of others who are better than he is. Jesus is a man of UNquestionable character, morals and integrity. He isn’t in need of redemption, yet he saves and redeems all who would look to Him.
- Their death and resurrection: Oscar Diggs (aka Oz) faked his death so that Oz the Great and Powerful Wizard could live. He never truly died, nor resurrected, but faked it all. He then got his closest followers to lie and hide the secret. Jesus did die, an excruciating death. And Jesus DID rise from the dead. He died and rose so that others could live (so different from Oz who faked his death so that he could live on as the Wizard). And Jesus’ followers didn’t have to lie to cover for him; it was the truth – a truth they died defending, not pretending.
All that Oz pretends to do or be, Jesus does and is. Oz pretends to love; Jesus IS love. Oz pretends to do miracles; Jesus does them. Oz manipulates and lies, Jesus is the Truth. Oz is motivated by greed, Jesus by love. I could do this all day, but I think you get the point. Their actions are similar, but the heart and motivation behind those actions is so different, it’s polar.
In fact, given the differences, you could make a good case for saying Oz is more closely related to (or symbolic of) the anti-Christ. Of course, that makes it sound like I think the movie (and Oz) was evil…and that’s not what I want to say – but it is an interesting thought for discussion, depending on who you’re talking with. It’s just an interesting thought to consider that the anti-Christ is expected to come in a way that is deceptive, and makes people think that he is the Christ by doing things Christ could do and so forth…
What’s the worldview of Oz?
A worldview is just the overall perspective from which you or I see and interpret the world. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out the worldview of a movie or a book. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher what perspective the author or story has and how they are interpreting God and the world and how it all works. Other times however, it’s pretty easy to sort out. Oz is one of those easier ones (which means it’s a great opportunity to have this discussion with your kids and help them learn to discern – a habit which will serve them well in life!).
In the movie, you have a group of people who believe in miracles, prophecy and a wizard who will save them. However, we get a look behind the curtain, so to speak, at the wizard and we see that he isn’t what he appears to be, or what they think he is. The wizard is a fraud, his miracles are just tricks and his motives are usually very selfish. If the wizard is analogous for God, and it seems he is, then the worldview presented by the movie is that God isn’t real. He is just something people believe in because it makes them feel better and gives them courage. It would even appear that the movie is suggesting that Jesus’ disciples lied to cover for him and that He never rose from the dead.
The movie suggests that the only real magic (or religion) is science (oxymoronic, right?!). Oz tells China Girl, “I’m sorry. I can’t grant wishes. I’m not that kind of wizard. Where I come from there aren’t any real wizards, except one, Thomas Edison. He could look into the future and make it real. …I can give gifts though.” Oz himself seems to value science more than magic and considers it the true magic. This is very much a product of the Enlightenment.
Interestingly enough, China Girl shows her disappointment and resignation to this new system of values where science is the highest “magic”. “I wish you were the kind that granted wishes, but that’s almost as good.” It’s not that she thinks gifts and logic and science are bad, she values them. It’s just that they aren’t as good as wishes and faith and magic. She settles. She resigns herself to it, but she is truly a little disappointed. I think that’s a pretty telling statement about humanity. We are made for the divine, made for faith in God, made for a God of wonders. He Himself made reason and science and nature and those are truly good things, but they aren’t higher truths or better things. They are the created, and whenever they usurp the Creator we will feel a sense of loss and disappointment.
As a man, I love Oz’ progress – because he really does grow and mature. As a god, however, I am bothered by his fall, his failure and his deception.
Questions for Discussion based on the review:
- Is belief in God just something that helps the masses?
- In the movie you get real magic and power (from the witches – both good and bad), and you get Oz’s cheap imitations which aren’t magic but science (with a little con thrown in). When something appears miraculous in real life, how do you tend to perceive it? As miraculous, or are you looking for the logical explanation behind it? Do you believe there are real miracles, instances of divine intervention in the world, or is it all a matter of science and nature?
- What do you think? Is Oz good or not? Why?
- Oz faked his death and resurrection. Do you believe Jesus died and rose like the Bible says? Are you aware of any of the evidence that it’s all true? (There is a lot! If you are curious, Lee Strobel has written several books that give the historical evidence.)
- Would you rather have a God who grants wishes or a good man who gives gifts?
- Would you be disappointed if you were told there was nothing but science, that God wasn’t real and miracles didn’t happen? Or, if that’s what you believe anyway, would it excite you to learn that God and miracles are real?
- How does your opinion of Oz change based on whether you see him as a man, or a god (or symbolic of a god)?
- It’s also a great exercise to walk someone through the idea of worldview and challenge them to discern for themselves how the movie perceives the world, god, religion, etc.
Additional Questions and/or Topics for Discussion from the movie:
- The dangers of misleading someone’s heart: What did Oz do that hurt Theodora? Did he wrong her? What things should he have done differently? What was Theodora’s role in her own heart ache? Is there anything she should have/could have done differently? Is she partly to blame?
- Theodora was a model of belief in the beginning, but she was transformed by anger when she was disappointed. Have you known people (or even professing Christians) like her? What does that tell you about the power of disappointment? How can you guard against it? Are there right ways and wrong ways to keep yourself from being disappointed?
- Is it ever OK to lie or deceive? (Glinda the good seemed to think that it was good to deceive the people by letting them think the Wizard was really great and powerful.)
- Glinda ended up with a wizard that wasn’t quite what she was expecting, yet she made the best of it. How can she inspire you to make the best of your surprises and disappointments?
- China girl was the smallest and definitely the most fragile in the group, yet she ended up being significant, if not key, to everyone’s salvation. How does that encourage you? How does it challenge your perceptions of others who seems “less”? What did Jesus have to say about the smallest and the least?
- Is faith all that matters, or does it matter what your faith is in? Is faith just a tonic for the masses?
Click here to see quotes from the movie.
by Stacey Tuttle
 Oh I am so hesitant to make a blanket statement about something so relative and subjective as that. Of course, it’s relative and subjective when I say it’s beautiful and creative…but no one gets offended if they take my word for it and disagree on those points. If you take my word that it’s clean though, and disagree…well, that’s a sensitive matter. So please, don’t take my word for it…do your homework and see what’s in it before you go and take your children.