Fuse #8

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Video Sunday - The Wizard of Oz

Last Sunday I thought it might be fun to do a regular piece where I look at online videos of wacky children's literature topics (preferably in the public domain). I was pleased as punch to find all kinds of Alice in Wonderland info, though Monica Edinger of Educating Alice found oh so much more. This Sunday I thought I might go a different route and see what I could find on the Wizard of Oz that's out there.

The answer? Not much. Not much at all. Really, the best thing I could find was the frighteningly low-budget and poorly shot 1971 Turkish Wizard of Oz. How cheap is it? Well when the best you can do Great and Terrible Oz-wise is a skull sitting on a table, you may wish to consider springing for a cardboard head or something. I did agree with the YouTube commentator who said that the Tin Man's axe looked like something that could do serious bodily harm, though.

There was also this series of selections from the 1910 version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

I'll spare you the various crazed television animated television shows. There was the Japanese anime version (though the French intro is undoubtedly the best), the American 80s one, and an odd little 60s series called Tales of the Wizard of Oz. Tales actually comes off looking the best of the lot. There's also this, which sort of defies explanation.

High-budget commercials have apparently taken great advantage of the movie version over the years. There was this oddly Tinman-free Minolta commercial in the 80s and, more recently, this Fed Ex bit o' weirdness.

No, when it all comes down to it, maybe the best thing I found was this simply charming Shirley Bassey rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

You will note that with the exception of the 1910 film, none of these take their influence from the books but from the movie. Basically you have to go with what you've got. Ah well.



At 3:44 PM , Blogger Monica Edinger said...

Sigh, I don't have two hours today (that darn US Congress doing daylight savings weeks before the rest of the world) and this is JL Bell's territory really, but...

the thing is, while people do connect Alice to the Disney movie, there are plenty who still connect to the original book. With Oz, that MGM movie (due to all us boomers having seen it yearly on television) is IT way, way more than the book.

I'm NOT going to check out youtube, but there are really many movie versions of OZ. In fact, Baum himself (John Bell, pardon me) went to Hollywood to do movies of his books and kinda blew it, I believe.

I do a unit on Oz where the kids read the book (always love it), I show the MGM movie and they decide if it is a good adaptation or a bad one. (I did an article called "We're Off to See the Wizard" for the sadly defunkt Riverbank Review and have a chapter in one of my teacher books on the unit. I also have a ton of stuff about OZ (you've met the knowitallerofall -- Michael Patrick Hearn who did the annotated Oz) including several movies. I quite like Disney's live action Return to Oz which they worked to make look like the post-Denslow illustrator (and combined the second and third book for the script).

Okay, where's John when you need him?

At 3:49 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

At one point I owned every copy of The Riverbank Review (the advantages of being a Serials Manager). They may still be kicking around here somehwere.

It's funny the degree to which the MGM film has completely taken over any other interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Even books like "Wicked" have a hard time straddling the two. Are the slippers ruby or silver? Is the witch green or of another color?

I'm waiting for the day when someone decides to refilm The Wonderful Wizard of Oz using all the cool CGI now at their disposal. You could now have an actual Tin Man or an Aslan-like Cowardly Lion. I wonder why it's never been attempted.

At 4:09 PM , Blogger Monica Edinger said...

Because all us irritating boomers are holding the torch for the MGM film. Just a week or so ago there was a piece in the New York Times about The Coroner --- you know, the Munchkin that declare the wicked old witch dead. John Bell did a post about it. Ah, here it is: http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2007/02/not-crushed-by-farmhouse-after-all.html

You've got to have all The Riverbank Reviews at your library, don't you? Hopefully! I've got most of them here. What a beautiful magazine that was.

At 10:05 AM , Blogger Phil said...

I couldn't watch anymore. Imagine running into that hideous band traipsing through the woods....((shudder))

At 2:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody should ever do a remake of "The Wizard of Oz". That MGM movie should be held sacred. As it is, it's absolutely perfect. It does not matter if the special effects aren't digital or if the makeup doesn't look quite real. We (at least I) don't watch the film for that. We watch it because it is o well-made and well cast, and because the songs are so good. A movie must never be remade simply because it doesn't have digital special effects.


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