Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Wizard of Oz - A Parody Review

(The following parody review may contain spoilers) 

MGM's The Wizard of Oz is based off of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; the first book of the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Newcomer Judy Garland plays Dorothy, a role originally offered to Shirley Temple, who looks more like how Dorothy does in the books. Veteran actors Ray Bolger as Scarecrow, Jack Haley as Tin Man and Bert Lahr as The Lion also star with Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton as the two witches. A little on the lack of witches later.

Are you a good book? Or a bad movie?

While the film follows the book pretty closely, a huge portion of the classic children's novel is left out entirely, alienating the real fans, the fans of the books. For starters, they've added a huge portion of unnecessary exposition in the Kansas scenes. What was once a few pages in the book, is now a whole side story in which Dorothy's dog Toto has to be put down or something by Miss Gulch (Played by Margaret Hamilton who also plays The West Witch).

The Kansas scenes are in black and white and all the Oz scenes are in color, giving a striking affect. Probably the only faithful thing to come out of this film as Baum does describe Kansas as being "gray".

The Witches are all out of wack in this one. Glinda is now a combination of both The Witch of the South and The Witch of the North. She also replaces the role that The Mouse Queen plays in the original novel, so no Mouse Queen in this movie. Another insult to injury is the drastic changes to The Witch of the West. Where is her magic glass eye and her hat that controls the monkeys? Since when was she green?

And while on the topic of colors, ruby slippers? That's right. Just like our now green skinned Witch of the West, Dorothy now has these ruby slippers. What was wrong with the silver ones from the book? And remember the plot device of The Emerald City being only green because of the green glasses our characters are given? Gone also.

Other scenes like their confrontation with the Kalidahs, The Wizard's other two personas, and our main four characters' journey to the land of people made of china have been excluded, presumably to make space for hollow songs that do very little to move the plot along.

Instead of these lame songs, they should have included some friggin' story like how the Tin Man came to be and why Dorothy can't just take a cab back to Kansas, or even that rainbow horse carriage.

It's a nice try really, but a convoluted twist ending in which the whole movie was a dream makes it hard for the future books to be made into installments. If Oz isn't real then how will they adapt the rest of the series into film?

It's a nice fluffy movie, but as a companion to the books, I don't hold it that high.

If you enjoyed this article, you should check these links out:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition (Books of Wonder) - The original. A must read if you want to be a real Oz fan.
The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy) - A discussion of both the books and the film adaptations.
The Princess of Oz - An unfinished Oz movie by yours truly ;-)

(Don't panic, the previous was a parody, only a parody)

1 comment:

  1. I was talking with a co-worker about Wizard of Oz at one time, and he pointed out how the movie's Glinda essentially sends Dorothy off to meet an unhelpful wizard, killing off the other of the East/West witches along the way, only to reveal that Glinda knew all along how Dorothy can return home. If I were doing a parody review, I'd totally harp on about this point caused by combining the North/South witches =D


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