The Unlikely Remakes Part I

The Wizard of Private Ryan

There's no place like home but first a journey through a
strange land.
Dorothy / Capt. John Miller is transported to a far away land that is unfamiliar to her/him.  In order to return home Dorothy/Miller must first go on a potentially dangerous journey and find The Wizard / Private James Ryan.  

Faithful companion throughout the journey.  Loyal
and loveable
Alone the way Dorothy/Miller is accompanied by their faithful companion Toto/ Sergeant Mike Horvath and three individuals lacking in a desired character trait.

If I only had a brain!

Lacking in brain power but with other abilities
The Scarecrow lacks any real independent cognitive thought.  Private Daniel Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) knows his way around a sniper's rifle and is the man you'd want at your six in the midst of trouble but through his own admission is not exactly the sharpest bayonet in the barricks.

If I only had a heart!

Without heart and feeling
The Tin Man is without emotion, lacking a heart to feel with.  Similarly Private Richard Reiben (played by Edward Burns) lacks heart and emotion. When he tries to kill, and convince the others in the unit, the German translator who's seen little action and is effectively an innocent life.

If I only had courage!

Both require courage, both lacking
The cowardly lion, a lion without courage is shocking but that's what he is.  Likewise Corporal Timothy Upham (played by Jeremy Davies) displays an amazing lack of courage in the battlefield when he freezes and breaks down.  When he is tested he lacks the courage required from a solider (think Lion).

Both are the reason for the journey, both hold the key to
going home
Finally after an exhausting and dangerous journey through a strange land and accompanied by a band of brothers Dorothy/Miller find The Wizard/Private Ryan achieving their goal and earning them the right to go home BUT neither are what were expected.  The Wizard is an old man without the stature of presence and even ability that all have come to expect.  Private Ryan (played by Matt Damon), you would imagine would be thankful to be told he is to return home to his mother after all his brothers have died but he's not.  Instead he'd sooner remain behind.  This revelation is somewhat shocking to audience and characters alike.

Thematically there are several occasions in The Wizard of Oz and Saving Private Ryan that echo the same key narrative arch.  If you're still sceptical by all means go and watch both films in quick succession and you'll come to the same conclusion.  Saving Private Ryan the modern day remake of The Wizard of Oz which leaves only two things left.

Winged evil
The Wicked Witch of the West and the flying monkeys, case closed.


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