Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Wizard of Oz

Beacuse it is the 70th anniversary of the film release, I'll be highlighting an American classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

THE WIZARD OF OZ is based on the 1900 children's book, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum. The film adaptation is a 1939 musical / fantasy film directed mainly by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Grapewin, Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The movie follows 12-year-old farmgirl Dorothy Gale (Garland) who lives on a Kansas farm with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, but dreams of a better place "somewhere over the rainbow." After being struck unconscious during a tornado by a window which has come loose from its frame, Dorothy dreams that she, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are transported to the magical Land of Oz. There, the Good Witch of the North, Glinda (Burke), advises Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and meet the Wizard of Oz, who can return her to Kansas. During her journey, she meets a Scarecrow (Bolger), a Tin Man (Haley), and a Cowardly Lion (Lahr), who join her, hoping to receive what they lack themselves (a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively). All of this is done while also trying to avoid the Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton) and her attempt to get her sister's ruby slippers from Dorothy, who received them from Glinda.

Like most people, I love this movie, but because I am a book purist, I have always been disappointed because many things are much different than the way Baum portrayed them in the book. For example:
  • Dorothy's slippers ARE NOT ruby - in the book they are silver.
  • Glinda is not the Witch of the North - she is the Witch of the South.
  • The Tin Man started out life as a real man, but because of a curse, he was turned to tin.
  • The Scarecrow was only one day old - in the movie he is said to have been in the field a long time.
  • Glinda did not save Dorothy and the Lion from the field of Poppies - an army of mice did.
  • Everyone in the Emerald City had to wear a pair of Emerald colored glasses.
  • Dorothy did not dream her trip to Oz - in the book she really traveled to Oz.

There are also 15 more books about Oz written by Baum and 2 dozen more written after his death.

So while the WIZARD OF OZ is a timeless film classic, the book series offers much more for the imagination. Check them out - you won't be sorry.

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