The Wizard of Oz (1939)

By Scott Root · August 2, 2011

Screenplay Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy

Movie Time: 103

Synopsis: Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is a young woman from Kansas who feels unappreciated. She runs away from home, but quickly decides that life on the road isn’t for her if she’s hurting her family. She heads back, but a whopper of a storm blows in and she’s knocked out in the resulting twister. Her dream takes her to a land “over the rainbow” called Oz, where she meets the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin-Man (Jack Haley) and Cowardly Lion (Bret Lahr) on her journey to see the Wizard (Frank Morgan) who she believes will send her home. However, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margret Hamilton) is out to avenge her evil sister and kill Dorothy and her friends during their quest.



Introduce Protagonist #1: Dorothy Gale, a teenager who feels static and unappreciated.

Introduce Supporting Character (Best Friend): Toto, Dorothy’s always-loyal little dog.

Status Quo: Dorothy is lonely on the farm, and she feels undervalued at home.

World of the Story: Boring and sepia tone wide-open big sky Kansas.

Dramatic Premise: Though Dorothy dreams of a world outside, she ultimately finds that there’s no place like home.

Musical Sequence 1: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Introduce Antagonist #1 (Dictator): Miss Gulch, Dorothy’s snooty neighbor.

Status Quo Obstacle: Miss Gulch threatens to take Toto, leaving Dorothy feeling isolated and companionless.

* Inciting Incident (Plot Point #1): Toto goes back to Dorothy, and they run away from home.


Introduce Supporting Character (Mentor): Professor Marvel, the traveling Psychic.

Protagonist's Objective: Dorothy wants to return home to her loving family after she discovers that they do care about her.

Predicament Obstacle: A storm blows in preventing Dorothy from reuniting with her family.

Musical Sequence #2: The Twister. Dorothy is knocked out in her home, and dreams that she is swept up by the tornado. She sees people from around the county who have been swept up by the twister as well.

Character Change: Miss Gulch transforms into an evil witch.

* The Lock-In (Plot Point #2): When she lands, she opens the door to the magical Land of Oz.



World of the Story: The colorful and magical Land of Oz.

Introduce Supporting Character (Mentor): Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, who wants to help Dorothy return to Kansas.

Musical Sequence #3: We Welcome You toMunchkin Land. Dorothy receives a grand welcoming party for killing the Wicked Witch of the East.

Establish Tension: Dorothy simply wants to return home, but she doesn’t understand the new world into which she has been thrust.


Plant: The Ruby Slippers, a magical pair of shoes.

Raising the Stakes: Dorothy receives the Ruby Slippers to the outrage of the Wicked Witch of the West (formerly, Miss Gulch).

First Second Act Obstacle: Dorothy must reach the Emerald City to get help from the Wizard.

Introduce Protagonist #2 (Fool): The Scarecrow, a brainless animate scarecrow.

Subplot Objective: The Scarecrow's quest for the brain.

Musical Sequence # 4: The Scarecrow.

Introduce Protagonist #3 (Nurturer): The Tin-Man, a heartless man-made entirely from tin.

Musical Sequence #5: The Tin-Man.

Subplot Objective: The Tin-Man’s quest for a heart.

Failure/Ramifications: The Wicked Witch finds Dorothy and her new friends. She hurls a fireball at them and discovers the Scarecrow’s aversion to fire. They’re all on her radar now.

Introduce Protagonist #4 (King): The Lion, an anthropomorphic lion who believes he’s a coward.

Musical Sequence #6: The Lion.

Subplot Objective: The Lion’s quest for courage.

New Second Act Obstacles: The Emerald City is in sight, but they are separated from it by the Wicked Witch’s sleepy poppies.

Solution: The Tin-man and Scarecrow are not affected by the poppies, and they summon help from Glinda. She makes it snow, negating the effect of the poppies.

* First Culmination (Plot Point #3): The team arrives at the gate to the Emerald City.


Musical Sequence #7: Merry Old Land of Oz.

Subplot Revival: The Witch rides to the Emerald City and leaves a message for Dorothy.

Second Act Obstacle: The Wizard will not see the team, until they reveal that she is Dorothy.

Musical Sequence #8: King of the Forest.

Introduce Antagonist #2 (Tyrant): The Wizard of Oz, ruler of the Land of Oz.

Failure/Ramifications: The Wizard refuses all of their requests.


Higher Second Act Obstacle: The Wizard commands them to return with the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Failure/Ramifications: Dorothy is taken captive by the Witch’s flying monkeys in the haunted forest. Her friends are left broken and battered to save her.

Rising Action: The Witch threatens to kill Dorothy when the hourglass runs out.

Highest Second Act Obstacle: The team eventually infiltrates the castle to save Dorothy.

Obligatory Scene: Dorothy is rescued by her friends, and they make their great escape, but they end up meeting the Witch face-to-face, surrounded by her guards.

* Main Culmination (Plot Point #4): The Witch lights Scarecrow on fire, and Dorothy tries to put him out, but the water hits the Witch. She melts.



Third Act Tension: The team returns to the Emerald City with the broomstick expecting their rewards.

Third Act Obstacle: The Wizard refuses to give them an audience and their requests.

Failure/Ramifications: Toto reveals he’s not a wizard at all.

Obstacle Solution: He reveals that they had what they needed all along.

Third Act Obstacle: The Wizard doesn’t have anything for Dorothy

Obstacle Solution: The Wizard will take Dorothy back in his hot-air balloon.

  • Third Act Twist: The wizard leaves without Dorothy.


The Last Obstacle: Dorothy appears to be trapped in Oz forever.

Obstacle Solution: Glinda returns and helps Dorothy learn that she’s had the power to return home all along.

Resolution: Dorothy clicks her heels together 3 times and says “There’s No Place Like Home.”