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World of May - Oz the Great and Powerful

Mar. 11th, 2013

02:41 pm - Oz the Great and Powerful

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I went to see this over the weekend. I kind of had to. I’ve been an OZ child for as long as I can remember. When other children were knocking on the backs of wardrobes I was looking down every path I could trying to see if this road would lead me to OZ. So what did I think of it? Well, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Seriously SO PRETTY. And the OZ in it LOOKS like OZ. There’s one scene where the characters are talking and they go past a pasture with horses and they’re these rainbow colored things that aren’t quite horses and it’s amazing, because it’s totally just in the background. Which, granted would normally annoy me, because it’s special effects for their own sake, except in a movie about a fairyland, I think special effects for their own sake add to the world rather than detract from it.

The acting is a little stilted, though I think they were going for stylized. Not my favorite thing but I can move past it.

Obviously, there are some issues with the movie. OZ has always been a very female dominated world. And the Wizard himself was a con man and more than a little evil, or at least he’s portrayed so in The Marvelous Land of OZ. So to give us a whole movie where the Wizard is the hero, and a good hero at that, is a bit inconsistent. Except Baum himself is wildly inconsistent with the OZ books and that in books after The Marvelous Land of OZ the Wizard is much different and more helpful and basically I think he’s one of the main places where you can see how inconsistent Baum is with OZ. Though, I will add that one of my favorite things about the Wizard is that he’s only allowed to practice magic under the direction of Glinda, basically reinforcing OZ as a matriarchy.

However my real issues with the movie were not that. I think retelling fairy tales is fun, and as I said Baum’s own characterization of the wizard is inconsistent.

The first issue I have is that Theodora (who turns into The Wicked Witch of the West) is basically given the broken heart motivation. The Wizard, with some help from her manipulative older (and wicked) sister, breaks her heart and that’s how she becomes evil. I’d be far more annoyed if it weren’t for the fact that we clearly see Evanora push her sister in that direction, and then give her an apple that dries up Theodora’s heart. Still, it’s the scorned and evil woman motivation, and that’s a little old.

There’s also the fact that the Wizard is from Omaha, Nebraska not Kansas. And that the four peoples in Oz are the Quadlings, the Munchkins, the Winkies and the Gillikins. There is no “Tinker” race. The Winkies were marvelous tinkers, but they were still Winkies. But apparently the movie makes decided that the Winkies were evil as opposed to slaves of the witch. Teeny bit annoyed at that. Still, those two things made it clear to me that the writers didn’t actually read any of the books and based their movie on the MGM musical.

The last thing I have issue with is that the movie makes Glinda the daughter of the last ruler in OZ. Which, of course, begs the question why isn’t she the one who takes the throne when the two witches are defeated and sent to their respective places? That is probably my biggest issue with the movie. If you aren’t going to give Glinda the throne of OZ, and don’t tell me it’s because OZ has to be ruled by a man or I will throw the books at you, then why make her the daughter of the last Wizard/King?

That said; I can work with it. And I’m going to say that since she’s a witch, and Ozma while powerful is not, there’s some sort of rule that witches can’t sit on the throne of OZ. Wizards can, because witches are far more powerful and that power plus the power of ruling is too much.

So here’s my fanwank. Glinda had an older brother or sister who was the heir. Evanora also killed him/her when she killed the Wizard/King but Glinda managed to save her niece Ozma. After Oscar came and helped throw the witches out of the Emerald City, Glinda gave Ozma to his keeping, and left him to be regent of OZ. Because he had NO CLUE how to raise a little girl he employed a woman by the name of Mombi to help. Unfortunately for him, Mombi was not who she claimed and absconded with the little Ozma. By the time anyone knew what was going on, Mombi had worked her transformation on the girl and no one could find her.

This also explains to me why Glinda would send Dorothy to the Wizard in the first book, when in The Marvelous Land of OZ, she indicates that she KNEW the Wizard had sent Ozma off to Mombi. See: Baum’s inconsistencies.

EDIT: OHHH, I'm going to leave a link here to Carrie Vaughn's great critique of the movie. I agree with this LOTS.

Comments:

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From:mercurybard
Date:March 12th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
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I've been debating about whether or not to go see this. I don't have much of a background on the canon, but I love Return to Oz and The Wicked Years books.
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From:the_jackalope
Date:March 12th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
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I despise Gregory Maguire's take on OZ. DESPISE it. But I'll give him credit for revitialzing an interest in OZ. This movie is far more similar to the movie staring Judy Garland than it is to either one of those versions, so take that into consideration. That said, I really did like it. This side characters felt OZ-y to me, and as I said it's visually stunning.
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From:author_by_night
Date:July 14th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
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I just aw the movie and decided to read your thoughts (ages later).

Full disclosure, my familiarity with Oz is not... great. I saw the MGM film and read Wicked, then saw the musical, then read the original book. I basically see all of the adaptations as separate entities that are trying to portray something similar.

My feelings on the movie were mixed - I was impressed for the first while, then I just found the acting and, yes, the characterization of the female characters problematic. At the same time, the visual effects were good, and I liked the way they tied in starting with black and white and going to color once he got to Oz. I was a bit taken by Ozma not being mentioned, since I knew she was important, but Wikipedia tells me she was only there post-Wizard's arrival, which makes a bit more sense. At first I wondered if the girl made out of China was supposed to be Ozma. (Again, familiarity is not great.) I like your fanwank.

Still, it’s the scorned and evil woman motivation, and that’s a little old.

Especially as we'd already had scenes with Oz pissing off the women around him...
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