Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Three Fetishes: An Essay on Return to Oz (1985)

(from a new essay of mine, entitled The Three Fetishes: Transformation and Ethical Engagement in Walter Murch's Return to Oz (1985)):
Both Mombi and the Wheelers are deconstructed human types, but it’s worth noting the difference in their strategies. The Wheelers are mechanical constructs, almost steampunk in their primitive morphology. Mombi, on the other hand, is cybernetic. She is a highly adaptive system with interchangeable identities, wearing faces and demeanors like it’s a matter of fashion. She is more dynamic than the Wheelers, but also more fragmented, with seams and couplings that penetrate right into her soul.
In what seems like somebody’s terrible delegation decision, Mombi has been placed in charge of guarding some very important things. One of them is a substance called Magic Powder, fairy dust gathered into a vial, that gives life to anything it’s applied to. She keeps this powder locked up with her original head; why she has it, why she values it, and what she might ever do with it are all mysteries that won’t be answered by this narrative. In no time at all, Dorothy will steal it and use it to animate a new companion (the Gump). Though it doesn’t have much more of a role to play, the powder is a symbolic cornerstone within the text. Honestly, Oz might as well be made of the stuff.
-- from the essay, which can be found at the excellent blog 366 Weird Movies. I've been writing a bit for outside outlets, and I'm going to continue doing that for a while; I'll keep posting selections on here, so feel free to click through, if this is how you keep up with my ramblings.

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