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The Wizard of Oz: BFI Film Classics

Overview

The Wizard of Oz 'was my very first literary influence,' writes Salman Rushdie in his
account of the great MGM children's classic. At the age of ten he had written a story,
'Over the Rainbow', about a colourful fantasy world. But for Rushdie The Wizard of Oz
is more than a children's film, and more than a ...

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Overview

The Wizard of Oz 'was my very first literary influence,' writes Salman Rushdie in his
account of the great MGM children's classic. At the age of ten he had written a story,
'Over the Rainbow', about a colourful fantasy world. But for Rushdie The Wizard of Oz
is more than a children's film, and more than a fantasy. It's a story whose driving
force is the inadequacy of adults, in which 'the weakness of grown-ups forces
children to take control of their own destinies'. And Rushdie rejects the conventional
view that its fantasy of escape from reality ends with a comforting return to home,
sweet home. On the contrary, it is a film that speaks to the exile. The Wizard of Oz
shows that imagination can become reality, that there is no such place like home,
or rather that the only home is the one we make for ourselves.
Rushdie's brilliant insights into a film more often seen than written about are
rounded off with his typically scintillating short story, 'At the Auction of the Ruby
Slippers,' about the day when Dorothy's red shoes are knocked down to $15,000 at a
sale of MGM props …
In his foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of
the BFI Film Classics series, Rushdie looks back to the circumstances in which he
wrote the book, when, in the wake of the controversy surrounding The Satanic Verses
and the issue of a fatwa against him, the idea of home and exile held a particular
resonance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is one of the first in a new series of monographs pairing writers and film scholars with a film of their own choosing from the BFI archives. At first glance, the controversial author of The Satanic Verses might seem an odd pairing with the MGM musical classic, but Rushdie proclaims that the Judy Garland film was ``my very first literary influence.'' The essay that follows this confession is sprightly, witty and surprisingly deeply felt. Like the embattled Rushdie, Dorothy is an exile looking for a way back home, the victim of a wicked witch not unlike Rushdie's nemesis, the Ayatollah Khomeini. Rushdie revels in the film's ``joyful and almost complete secularism,'' while confessing his debt to it for the style of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. He also offers an idiosyncratic feminist defense of the Wicked Witch of the West and some mordant humor, as in his dismissal of Toto as ``that little yapping hairpiece.'' The second half of this slender volume is a short story that inflates the ruby slippers into a bloated and portentous metaphor. The tale's failure, however, isn't enough to take the luster off the essay that precedes it. Illustrations not seen by PW. First serial to the New Yorker. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844575169
  • Publisher: BFI Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Series: BFI Film Classics Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition,Revised Edition,2nd edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 460,435
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Salman Rushdie

SALMAN RUSHDIE is the author of eleven previous novels – Luka and the Fire
of Life, Grimus, Midnight's Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the
Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories,
The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown and
The Enchantress of Florence – and one collection of short stories, East, West.
He has also published three works of nonfiction – The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary
Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991, and Step Across This Line – and coedited
two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is
the former president of American PEN.

Biography

Born in Mumbai, India, and educated in the U.K., multi-award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie is considered one of the most important and influential writers of contemporary English-language fiction.

Rushdie freelanced for two London advertising firms before turning to a full-time writing career. He made his literary debut in 1975 with Grimus, a sci-fi fantasy that made a very small splash in publishing circles. However, he hit the jackpot with his second novel, Midnight's Children, an ambitious allegory that parallels the turbulent history of India before and after partition. Widely considered Rushdie's magnum opus, Midnight's Children was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981. (Twelve years later, a panel of judges named it the best overall novel to have won the Booker Prize since the award's inception in 1975; and in 2005, Time included it on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.)

Undoubtedly, though, the book that put Rushdie squarely on the cultural radar screen was The Satanic Verses. Published in 1988 and partially inspired by the life of the prophet Muhammad, this erudite study of good and evil won the Whitbread Book Award, but achieved far more notoriety when Muslim fundamentalists condemned it for its blasphemous portrayal of Islam. The book was banned in many Muslim countries, a fatwa was issued by the Iranian Ayatollah, and a multimillion dollar bounty was placed on Rushdie's head. The novelist spent much of the 1990s in hiding, under the protection of the British government. (In 1998, Iran officially lifted the fatwa, but threats against Rushdie's life still reverberate throughout the Muslim world.)

Even without the controversy inspired by The Satanic Verses, Rushdie's literary fame would be assured. His novels comprise a unique body of work that draws from fantasy, mythology, religion, and magic realism, blending them all with staggering imagination and comic brilliance. He has created his own idiom, pushing the boundaries of language with dazzling wordplay and a widely admired "chutnification" of history. His books have won most major awards in Europe and the U.K. and have garnered praise from critics around the world. Britain's Financial Times called him "Our most exhilaratingly inventive prose stylist." Time magazine raved, "No novelist currently writing in English does so with more energy, intelligence and allusiveness than Rushdie." And the writer Christopher Hitchens lamented in the Progressive that were it not for the death threats against him, Rushdie would surely be a Nobel laureate by now.

In addition to his bestselling novels, Rushdie has also produced essays, criticism, and a book of children's fiction. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The citation reads: "Ahmed Salman Rushdie -- author, for services to literature."

Good To Know

Rushdie was short-listed for The Literary Review's Bad Sex Award in 1995 for The Moor's Last Sigh, which included such verses as "For ever they sweated pepper ‘n' spices sweat."

Rushdie participated in a two-day, U.S. State Department conference entitled "Why Do They Hate Us?" for 50 diplomats in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rushdie's first novel was a literate sci-fi fantasy entitled Grimus. Although it made only a very small splash in publishing circles, the book was deemed outstanding enough to be selected by a panel of distinguished writers (including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, and Arthur C. Clarke) as the best science fiction novel of 1975. However, at the last minute, his publishers withdrew the book from consideration, fearing that, if he won, Rushdie would never be able to shake the label of "genre writer."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ahmed Salman Rushdie
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 19, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bombay, Maharashtra, India
    1. Education:
      M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

Foreword

I A Short Text About Magic

II At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers

Credits

Bibliography

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