Southland Tales review 44 of 52.

SouthlandOz.jpg

44 week down!!!

Somewhere between review 23 and 25 in my three part journey to find the link between Southland Tales and Sri Yantra, the mental patient host of this YouTube video mentioned a brief link between Southland Tales and The Wizard of Oz. I think this link had to portals of something.

Here’s what I wrote back then.

  • And then Oz. I actually looked away and thought they were talking about the prison show, but no.
  • Wizard of Oz!!! Are they going to link the fact that Dorothy escapes in a hot air balloon to the Treer Mega Zeppelin?

Holy shit! Is Southland Tales the retelling of the Wizard of Oz?

As soon as I get home!!!

  • Their Oz link however, is lame.

Well here I am, revisiting the subject.

Is Southland Tales a retelling of The Wizard of Oz?

I haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz in years. Just like with Hudson Hawk I may be way off with this theory, but what the hell? I have to write something.

Before I get started I’ll let you know some of the questions that are brewing in my head before I even start.

  • Is the Rock Dorothy or the Cowardly Lion?
  • Is Seann William Scott Dorothy or the Tinman?
  • Is Sarah Michelle Gellar Dorothy, or Toto?
  • Is Martin Kefauver Toto?
  • Is the mega zeppelin or the ice cream truck the hot air balloon that sends Dorothy home?
  • Cheri Oteri and John Lovitz are both definitely flying monkeys.

That’s what I got for now. Hopefully this is the finding that leads to my honorary doctrine from the University of Phoenix.

Let’s see what happens.

89b5e7020cebf0b68e7f7b3c7148e65d9761dce16f0b86a91236c9c5d822d241.jpg

Alright, I’m back, and I found way more connections than last week’s Hudson Hawk experiment!!!

And now to share my finding:

  • To start out, both movies begin by showing us the normal world. We get a glimpse in an average day in the life for the people living in this moment right before a catastrophic incident. This incident being the tornado in The Wizard of Oz and the nuclear explosion in Southland Tales.
catastrophy.jpg
  • Both movies also rely on cinematic techniques to differentiate between the per-catastrophic world and the post-catastrophic world. The Wizard of Oz uses black and white while Southland Tales uses the found footage technique to lead us up to our catastrophic event.
     
  • This starts a lot earlier and happens more often in The Wizard of Oz, but both movies have musical elements to them if they are not both full blown musicals.
     
  •  Both movies have multiple characters playing multiple versions of themselves.
multiples.jpg
  • Both movies have clairvoyants, though I don’t think there are any connections between Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the fortune teller who lies to Dorothy. Then again, this fortune teller in the per-catastrophe world of The  Wizard of Oz ends up being the Wizard. There may be some connection between the world of Oz and the world of The Power (the script within a script from Southland Tales.)
     
  • There a lot longer of a build-up to the storm in The Wizard of Oz, that allows us time to meet some of the characters in advance, where the explosion in Southland Tales happens right away. We never learn another detail about the poor party goers who die in Abilene.
     
  • I think this was brought up in the Sri Yantra video, but the tornado is very reminiscent of Richard Kelly’s use of portals.
     
  • We are introduced to the world of Oz through Dorothy. She sees everything as new and strange, being that this is an unfamiliar land. We get this same feeling of being in a strange land through the use of the Rock’s amnesia. I’m still not ready to argue that the Rock is Dorothy, I’m just pointing out that we get the same introduction to both the post-catastrophic worlds.
intro.jpg
  • If we use the Cannes cut of Southland Tales where this scene happens much earlier on, I might argue that the Prime Minister of Japan is the Wicked Witch of the East. I’m not saying that to be racist. We are introduced to the Prime Minister as if he is a worthy adversary, only to have his powers diminished moments after meeting him as Bai Ling chops off his hand. We don’t even get to see the Wicked Witch of the East before she is rendered a non-threat. In Southland Tales we end up with a hand, in Oz we end up with a pair of shoes, in both movies these items are then used as a source of identification.
east.jpg
  • If we’re going this route then I might say that Nora Dunn is the Good Witch of the North. Mainly because she seems higher up in the rankings to where she can facilitate things while remain safe. She’s so safe that she’s not nervous at all about joining her enemies for a celebration on the Mega Zeppelin.
     
  • Both movies have a dwarf department. The Lollipop Guild in Oz and Nana Mae’s munchkins in Southland Tales.
littles.jpg

Okay, I’m up to the scene where Dorothy is about to venture on down that yellow brick road and begin her mission. Let’s take a second to figure out who she is.

  • Dorothy could be the Rock. He is after all the main person we follow through this world and he did travel through a portal to end up in this new world. That said he really doesn’t have the drive. He’s more of a follower than a man on a mission, even though he does eventually step it up. He does end up at home at one point, well the Frost home, his wife’s home, his home, and he seems like he couldn’t care less, so I don't think it's him.
kidschoice2009pic63.jpg
  • Seann William Scott? He also went through the portal to find himself in this new world. We also follow him a lot, he also ends up on the flying ice cream truck that may equate to the hot air balloon meant to send Dorothy home.Though Dorothy never ended up on the hot air balloon. Also Seann William Scott is also a follower who eventually steps it up to fulfill his own mission, so I don't think he is Dorothy either.
Seann-William-Scott.jpg
  • That leaves us Sarah Michelle Gellar. I think she’s a good candidate. We don’t follow her as much as the others, but she seems to be the only one who knows what she is trying to accomplish. Even if you look back to the prequel material, no matter how convoluted the plan is, Sarah Michelle Gellar is always the one who seems to be in charge and switches things up to achieve her goals. Though she never has a goal of arriving at a physical house, I feel her ambition, drive, and ability to get things done to become as wealthy and famous as she can is an attempt to turn her world into a home, no matter where she is. She also a girl, just like Dorothy.
krystaOz.jpg
  • When the Wicked Witch of the West first shows up she seems to pop out of nowhere, ruining the crowds celebration. This surprise visit had the same feeling that violence from authorities can happen at any moment in either of these movies.
     
  • I would have to say that Nana Mae is the Wicked Witch of the West. They both have the same vengefully dedicated work ethics.
witch.jpg
  • In The Wizard of Oz we follow a yellow brick road. In Southland Tales we follow a trail of glowing orbs.
     
  •  I feel that Will Sasso is the Scarecrow.  Though he seems to look like a goofball most of the time he seems to be the only one smart enough to see how dumb everyone else is.
scarecrow.jpg
  • The Wicked Witch of the West has a surveillance system that would make Nana Mae Frost very proud.
     
  • If Seann William Scott is not Dorothy I would like to submit that he is the Tin Man. He’s very stiff, part of this stiffness is from the bulletproof vest that adds to the likeness, but his personality is pretty stiff as well. He even sound like a robot when he informs Martin Kefauver that they, “are taking the ATM with them to Mexico.” Seann William Scott also seems to be the character with the biggest heart in the bunch. He seems like he wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the amnesia. He seems to have a genuine concern for people. He back out of his main mission to try and save his “brother” and is truly torn up inside over what happened during the friendly fire incident with Justin Timberlake.
tinman.jpg
  • Small characters like the angry trees in The Wizard of Oz add a level of humor, kind of in the same way as the smaller characters, like Amy Poehler and Wood Harris, in Southland Tales.
     
  • We are now at the point where we meet the Cowardly Lion. That is definitely the Rock, especially with that thing that the Rock does with his fingers when he is scared. They are both cowards that step it up when needed.
lion.jpg
  • I can’t help but draw the connection between everyone getting high on poppy seeds in The Wizard of Oz with the shooting up of fluid karma in Southland Tales.
     
  • I’m unsure if the Wizard is supposed to be Bobby Frost, the puppet head politician that has no real power, or the Baron who works the strings and looks like the image of the projected Wizard.
     
  • Both the Wizard and the Baron seem to be fulfilling a lot of their magical promises, so it’s hard to consider either one of them a fraud.
     
  • If we’re going with Sarah Michelle Gellar is Dorothy, then her arrival to the Frost house can kind of be linked to Dorothy’s arrival at the Emerald City. Both show up to a celebration of sorts, granted Sarah Michelle doesn’t have her entire crew with her. Sarah Michelle Gellar is just like Dorothy in that she doesn’t seem scared. Also they both seem to manage to point out chinks in their opponent’s armor before heading out for the next leg of their missions.
     
  • The flying monkeys are definitely UPU2 officers.
00-flying-monkey-witch.jpg
  • I guess dropping off the sex tape to the Neo-Marxist is Sarah Michelle Gellar’s mission to retrieve the witch’s broom.
     
  • I forgot this was a thing but if I’m saying that Will Sasso is the Scarecrow, then in The Wizard of Oz the witch is killed because Dorothy is protecting the Scarecrow. In Southland Tales, Will Sasso’s buddy, Jimmy Hermosa shoots Nana Mae Frost dead. Granted there is no threat of harm to Will Sasso at the time, he’s right there when she dies.
     
  • Does that make Jimmy Hermosa Dorothy? Or maybe he's Toto?
jimmy.JPG
  • When Dorothy returns with the broom and is informed that the Wizard had sent her on a wild goose chase she does not back down. Just like Krysta Now, Dorothy is always aggressively focused on getting what she wants.
     
  • Again there’s the connection between the hot air balloon and the Mega Zeppelin and flying ice cream truck.
balloons.jpg
  • Both movies end on celebrations surrounding these flying balloons; only in Oz everyone is celebrating because they all got what they wanted while in Southland Tales everyone just dies.
     
  • Then again if everything in The Wizard of Oz was a dream, then everyone in the reality of Oz pretty much dies the second that Dorothy wakes up. Either way this was a fun journey.

Whether or not there are any intentional connection to Southland Tales I think I’ve had the most fun comparing Southland Tales other movies. As I pointed out before some similarities will show up purely out of the rules of story structure, but it's just as fun to track down those similarities.

It’s now 1:00 in the AM on Tuesday, December 17th and I’m about to fire up Southland Tales for the 44th time.

Feel free to make a suggestion for any other movies that may or may not be linked to Southland Tales.

Thanks for reading this. I’ll see you next week.

Only 7 more!!!

up2u.jpg

Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.