A Wizard of Oz Leitmotif in Steven Spielberg's films
WAR OF THE WORLDS 2005
Obvious parallel: the stormy sky scenes so like Kansas—especially where the wind sucks up instead of blowing down—are a portent of the coming disaster like in a tornado. See cyclonic movement in other films like Twister, Super 8, Casper, Bridge of Spies.
After mass chaos and destruction outside, Tom Cruise crawls out from under kitchen furniture to an eerily quiet, peaceful house, looking the same as always. Much like Dorothy’s first moments in OZ. They will both find world outside radically changed however. See Lincoln, E.T., the Extraterrestrial, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Twilight Zone the Movie, Kick the Can Episode for tension created by quiet…before or after pandemonium.
My favorite WOO moment is when Tim Robbins pops open a storm cellar door exactly like Gales’ and coaxes Tom Cruise and his daughter down into what turns out to be a false haven. See Twister.
The alien fiddling with the bicycle was a playful interlude. Steven loves his bikes and makes a point of inserting one whenever possible. See Munich, Adventures of Tintin, Amistad, 1941, Always, Super 8, Empire of the Sun, The Goonies, Sugarland Express, Jaws, Inner Space, Used Cars.
Check out the rolling hills with split level fence by this farmhouse with storm cellar. The red alien vines growing on landscape at dusk reminded me at one moment of the flowery glen and cottage where Tinman rusted—and at another of Gone with the Wind. See A.I.’s Gigolo Joe, and War Horse when Albert and Joey return for other homages to that same tree and fence scene. In Kansas, Tara and Oz we find a profusion of similar fences, bridges, trees thanks perhaps to Victor Fleming and King Vidor.
Getting his kids home to Mommy is their father’s quest. See See Empire of the Sun, A.I., Sugarland Express, Hook, Saving Private Ryan, Close Encounters, Catch me if You Can, The Color Purple, Poltergeist, Jurassic Park (to Grampa) and WOO (to Auntie Em).