Taylor & Danny Leddin - Wizard of Oz

Taylor Leddin and her brother Danny at "The Wizard of Oz" festival. 

Last month, I wrote about all of the amazing things my brother, Danny, has brought to my life. Another one of those things has been a shared appreciation for “The Wizard of Oz.”

A few years ago, I took Danny to see his favorite movie on the big screen. Anyone who knows Danny knows how much he loves Dorothy and the gang. So, when I saw the film was coming back to theaters for the 80th anniversary, I had to get tickets.

Despite the fact Danny watches parts of this movie almost daily, it had been a long time since I had seen the entire film. Toward the end, I found myself with tears in my eyes as the purity of this whimsical film washed over me as if it were my first time seeing it. I think about this film quite often.

In my opinion, the biggest takeaway of this movie is happiness can be found in your own backyard, partially meaning you don’t always have to travel far and wide to find your place in the world.

The other half of this is everything you need, is already within you. The Scarecrow felt lesser because he didn’t have a literal brain but was able to come up with helpful information while on the journey to Oz.

The Tin Man did not have a physical heart but showed compassion, as he was concerned for the well-being of the group, particularly Dorothy, during the course of the story. And the Lion, fearing he has no courage, manages to face his fears to save his friend.

While most of us have actual brains and hearts (and some of us have courage,) we often focus on the pieces of ourselves that are missing. The true beauty of this film is it proves you have the missing pieces within you; you just have to be willing to look for them and work for their emergence.

There’s a reason this film has stood the test of time, and it’s only partially because it was a Technicolor triumph at the time of its release. The bigger reason is the story’s message and characters can resonate with each of us, as we’re on a life-long journey to be the best we can be.

I encourage you to watch this movie, especially if you haven’t seen it as an adult. Find the message that speaks to you, and use it as a means to be kinder to yourself and to others.

Ok, now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about this movie on a Hollywood level. Can you imagine what a feat this must have been in 1939? Seeing something go from sepia to full color was probably a mind-blowing experience for audience members.

I can’t say the same for the whole “Dark Side of the Rainbow” concept; I tried watching it once while playing “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd in the background. Some parts linked up, but most of it was a stretch. Anyway, I digress.

“The Wizard of Oz” is what comes to mind when I hear the phrase “movie magic,” and it is the exact reason I had to drag Danny out of the theater at the end — he was under the spell of this beautiful, fantastical film and didn’t want to leave.

I couldn’t blame him. It’s hard to leave behind that feeling of whimsy and imagination and return to a rather bland reality. But, that’s even more of a reason to focus on the parts of ourselves that make us special.

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted by phone 815-937-3369, email tleddin@daily-journal or via Twitter @leddinlife.