Oz in the News 4.29.11

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – The True Story, BBC Four  Given that this was a BBC film and not an American production, I was surprised that there was no mention of the fact that our very own precocious but grounded Alice was skipping around Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland some 35 years before dear Dorothy was wafted off to Oz. We were told that Baum loved Dickens, so surely he would also have been aware of Carroll and his similarly absurdist land peopled by unlikely creatures and a headstrong little girl? If Baum hadn’t been painted throughout this documentary as such an innovator this could have been forgiven – but must every corner of history get rewritten to favour our US cousins?

Hollywood reimagines childhood classics with modern sensibilities  “What we have are stories that people have a general knowledge of but don’t know the specifics,” said veteran Hollywood producer Joe Roth, whose Oz movie, “The Great and Powerful,” has James Franco playing a wizard and Mila Kunis a witch. “We believe we can retool and reboot, work out a new story while using technology to our advantage.”   Already, “The Great and Powerful” has caused an Internet firestorm as fans wonder why Hollywood is taking liberties with a classic — although supporters note that “Powerful” will hew closer to Baum writings than the 1939 MGM musical, which sometimes ignored them. Those supporters also point to the Broadway musical “Wicked,” which cleverly reinvented Baum’s mythology with a story about the witches of Oz.  There is room, these advocates say, for new interpretations. “ ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is one of the greatest movies ever made,” Roth said. “We’re not trying to compete with it.”

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