Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an avid fan of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
The 1939 film was the first film I saw, thus creating this unbreakable bond. As I reached childhood, I related to Dorothy’s loneliness and her wish to go some place new and magical. The Wicked Witch and her monkeys never scared me. I loved the songs, (minus King of the Forest) and I jumped with excitement every time Dorothy threw that bucket of water.
And now, here we are in 2013. And a new film has arrived. There have been others, but none have matched the popularity of the original. The closest to that kind of fame is the musical WICKED, A reworking of The Wicked Witch of the West.
Admittedly, when first hearing about “Oz” I wasn’t excited. With the original film, I found The Wizard boring and fast- forwarded through his parts. I thought, “Why would we be interested in his story?” Reviews for the film were not positive, mostly attacked Franco’s performance,
But. Anything “Oz” I will see at least once, as that “world” or “fandom” is my favorite.
I left the theatre pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t read reviews in full, but had heard the story was “not there.” I disagree. It was clear that this was a story of man attempting to find the goodness inside himself. Above this morale, it was a film about a magical land where Wicked Witches were so close to overthrowing a good one. Trust me, even for a person who isn’t necessarily a fan of The Wizard of Oz, there is a story here that you can follow easily.
Also with the story, I loved the twists that the writers took. In case you aren’t aware, “Oz” is actually like Harry Potter— there are a series of books that build onto the first story. While this film does include many of the books details, there are a few things that the filmmakers created on their own.
The main difference and perhaps most interesting change is the origin of the Wicked Witch of the West.
In this film, she doesn’t start out wicked, or green even. She’s a good witch, although, a little naïve, I would say. This good witch eventually feels betrayed by the Wizard and when she is tricked into eating a poison apple, her goodness is drained and she becomes what we know her as: A broom flying, black cloaked, green-faced wicked woman. This is what I loved most about the film. The Wicked Witch of the West is a famous character and these “changes” were welcomed and there’s a tint of humanity with her. The idea is she wasn’t always wicked.
Lastly, one must talk about the allusions to the original film—
Kansas is black and white, Oz is in color— and, Kansas characters have Oz Counterparts. That was a nice little nod to the 1939 film.
The film has done so well financially, that a sequel is already being written. The question on everyone’s mind is in fact, will the next film be a retelling of Dorothy’s journey? There’s much more material to go off of, but it just seems that Dorothy arriving to Oz is the most logical step. At the very least, if the filmmakers were following a chronological time line, Dorothy would come next. But, it’s anyone’s guess.
Here’s where I get personal. You see, it’s been a dream of mine to bring the book version of Dorothy’s story to the screen. I have no intention of remaking the 1939 film. But I love the story so much, I wanted to make a film on it. The book is very, very different, so I felt it was justified.
Part of me is saddened that this Oz film has arrived. Because, it ultimately means Hollywood very likely will bring Dorothy Gale back to the screen. Again, there have been Oz films since the original, but none have reached a level of love or popularity of the 1939 film. I wanted to be that writer that pitched to the producers that we need an oz film. But, it seems someone else has already done it.
If in fact Dorothy’s journey is what we see next, there a few bumps in the road that I wonder how the creators will fix. Firstly, in the Kansas sequence, Oscar talks with a woman named Annie. Annie mentions a John Gale proposed to her. She’s going to say yes. GALE Is Dorothy’s last name. So, it is safe to say we met Dorothy’s mother. But, the trouble is, Dorothy lives with her aunt and uncle. Now of course, everyone has a mother. But, are the filmmakers planning to give us a 40 minute prologue on how Dorothy ends up with her aunt and uncle? Is Dorothy going to witness the death of her parents? As far as I know, her parents are never mentioned in the book.
Secondly, we have Evanora.
While not specifically stated, it’s safe to assume she is in fact THE WICKED WITCH OF THE EAST. If you don’t know, this is the witch that has the magical slippers and gets killed by Dorothy’s house. It’s assumed she’s the East witch because one, she’s wicked already and two, her sister is the wicked witch of the west. The trouble is… nowhere in the film did Evanora pull out magic slippers. The only thing she had was a jewel around her neck that when destroyed, revealed her true form. So, again, the question is, If Dorothy shows up in the next film, where will the magical slippers come from?
Lastly, and this is the biggest issue… is Glinda.
My issue with her is the fact that she knows the Wizard is a fraud. In knowing this, why would Glinda allow Dorothy to travel to the Emerald City, just to be let down? Now, look, in the book and most likely in these new films, Glinda is not the Witch that meets Dorothy in Munchkinland. It’s the unnamed Witch of the North… but she is absent from this first film. And while Glinda may not be the one to first meet Dorothy— This Glinda appeared to have an “all knowing” power. She knew what was going on in Oz. Even if you take this power away— a little girl killing one of the worst witches is news that surely would travel to Glinda. How does Glinda allowing a girl go see a FAKE Wizard fit into her goodness? I also had a huge problem with Glinda and The Wizard sharing a passionate kiss. In fact, all three witches seen in the film have a crush on the wizard. A little “tension” between any of these witches and Oz are fine— but a full blown romance? It just doesn’t fit. Especially with Glinda. She isn’t that type of character. At the end of the film, she fell into pure love interest territory and kissed the hero. But, in the context of who she was, it made no sense.
And so, now we wait. We wait to see just what the next film will bring. Will Dorothy’s house fall from the sky? In all honesty, if another Oz film is to be made, that’s what I’d pay to see. I’d love to see Dorothy’s story again. And, I wonder just how it’ll all work out.