Archives for posts with tag: L. Frank Baum

If you’re looking for Oz snark, you’re in the wrong place. I’m an all things Oz nut, and loved this movie.

The only thing I didn’t like was the green one’s transformation.  Too CGI in the face of memories of the incomparable Margaret Hamilton. That wicked, wicked witch, made up the old fashioned way has flown her broom through countless nightmares for centuries. Besides, if China Girl and Finley were such convincing CGI creations, I can’t see why Ms. Broom Flyer looked like something out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Now that that’s out of the way….

Black and white still has its place in 21st century filmmaking. The opening in shades of black and white and gray Kansas not only provided a startlingly wondrous moment of contrast to our first glimpse of Oz, they also emphasized the character of a man who even then wanted to be more than he was. Even if he didn’t know it. A few tiny indications showed hints of compassion and twisted wisdom lurking inside crass greed and selfishness.

The not 3D version I saw was plenty eye popping. Colors everywhere. Vibrant. Alive, flying, gorgeous creatures and plants, flowers…and a breathtaking waterfall adventure so immersive it felt almost like an audience participation experiment.
And that was all just the very beginning of a fun, funny, tragic, sweet, charming burst of entertainment.

I thought James Franco was perfect as Oz.  And that his Oz was the perfect introduction to the charlatan behind the curtain we all know so well from the beloved old movie. I’ve noticed that some people focus on the idea of Oz as a failure at worst, an inept bumbler at best. To me that’s the beauty of it. In most ways that describes him perfectly. As he was. Which opens the door to the kind of character growth that makes such movies so satisfying. It would have surprised no one if he had reverted to form and let the citizens down. What surprised me was how disappointed in him I was, and then thrilled when I felt he redeemed himself.

The best storytelling does that, you know. Makes its audience feel. Perceptive storytellers pour their hearts into that goal. Perceptive audiences embrace the experience and turn singular effort into collaborative event. Every single time the story is absorbed, whether written for page, stage, or screen. L. Frank Baum was such a gifted storyteller that audiences and readers are still responding to the gifts of his creations long after his death.

I still have much Baum to read, but I’m familiar enough with his world to have recognized it in Oz the Great and Powerful. I adore Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years, but it differs in such significant ways from that which inspired it that I can mentally compartmentalize and enjoy its individuality. It’s great fun that Baum created a world so similar yet so different from our own, then Maguire took it a step further when he created a world so similar yet so different from Baum’s Oz. Like the picture of a man painting a picture of a man painting a picture of a man painting…. Worlds within worlds within worlds…. There’s room for them all…it’s part of the magic that is the Land of Oz.

My favorite line from Oz the Great and Powerful: I may not be the wizard you expected, but I’m the wizard you needed.

Oz the Great and Powerful — Official Trailer 2013

Related post:

The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire

After not seeing many articles online that caught my interest for a while, there have been several suddenly. This one in particular set off my imagination.

It offers some quite funny speculation about what books might have been taken aboard the Titanic, and the likelihood that any one book’s weight would have made the literal difference between sink or swim. Life or death. Sheer survival.

Of course, that set me off into wondering how likely it was that even the staunchest booklover would go overboard clutching a tome they just couldn’t bear to leave behind. That’s taking the “I simply couldn’t put it down” thing a bit too far.

Though I have heard of traumatic shock making people do stranger things. Like the man on the bombed Arizona inordinately worried about the shoes he’d just polished and set down to dry.

I love books enough that I can’t be entirely certain I wouldn’t take one into the lifeboat (if I’d been one of the lucky passengers with a shot at a place in one). I doubt anyone would have the inclination to try to read by the light of a sinking ship, however.

The article includes a list of bestsellers from the early 1900s. Likely candidates to have been tucked into some dowager’s trunk. One of them, anyway.

We’ve all seen the cars being hoisted onboard by an elaborate contraption made of ropes and pulleys. Those well-traveled automobiles alone could have had a treasure trove of hardcover delight stowed away in every boot or glovebox. Excess spillover kicked out of the massive amounts of luggage reserved for enough luxurious wardrobe to make a movie…oh, wait, that’s the James Cameron extravaganza version.

I’m talking about the real life what if. The one where my favorite E. M. Forster novel, Howards End, was a bestseller of the time. The bit about the bastion of Anthony Hopkins’ forehead just might have enticed me to take it right over the rail, entrenched in a terror induced need to find out if that forehead would in time tempt Emma Thompson to marry the man who owned it.

Obviously, it doesn’t take one of the most horrific real life maritime disasters to stir up a blendered  ramble about history, fine literature, cinematic splendour, and a heavy dose of pop culture. It helps though when a single such incident captures the world’s imagination so that a century later it has gathered to its memory all of the above.

Another book on the list was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Considering my Wicked induced fascination with all things Oz, including L. Frank Baum, I probably would have tried to exit the sinking Titanic clutching more than one book.

If you think about it hard enough, and a bit sideways, being an extreme lover of books could be a dangerous way to live. And under  circumstances most irregular and unforeseen, quite possibly the second greatest potential hazard when traveling by unsinkable luxury liner.