Oz in the News 3.4.13

12080258-visions-of-oz-keyartVisions of Oz Art Exhibit to Open March 3 – This unprecedented month-long event will feature work from a wide range of media, including illustrations, paintings, sculptures, and even full-sized recreations of some of your favorite characters from the beloved 1939 MGM musical starring Judy Garland. The event will also showcase a dazzling display of historical memorabilia, including rare editions of the original Baum books, concepts and artwork from various unproduced Oz-themed film & TV projects, props from the many film adaptations, including Disney’s upcoming OZ — The Great and Powerful and many more surprises.

Oz remains a wonderful destination  You can find Oz on Broadway. “Wicked” won three Tony Awards. Oz inspired the title of Elton John’s most famous album. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” has sold 31 million copies (that’s an awesome — or Ozsome — number of candles in the wind). You can find Oz in legal history. The 1971 prosecution of the counter-culture magazine Oz was Britain’s longest obscenity trial, and John Lennon recorded a song in support of the defendants. Frank Oz was long a mainstay of the Muppets. OK, there’s no connection between him and Baum’s Oz — though one might note that the Muppets did a TV version of “The Wizard of Oz” (with a cameo by Quentin Tarantino, no less) in 2005.

Ozma: L. Frank Baum’s Trans-Positive OZ Heroine  It’s unlikely that L. Frank Baum was writing a book about transgendered people, but Ozma works pretty well as an LGBT metaphor. Ozma lived in a boy’s body, but had been a girl all along. Tip is at first unsure that he wants to be a girl, but with the support of his friends he embraces his true self. Of course Mombi’s spell is quicker than a course of hormones and surgery, but the result in the end is the same.

Once more over the rainbow with Oz The Great and Powerful  “Baum’s musical did not have a memorable score nor a wicked witch for that matter,” says Jane Albright who was born, of course, in Kansas and joined the International Wizard Of Oz Club in 1972. “He really was ahead of his time and even made what I believe was the first toy to market a live action film; a tiny woozy doll from The Patchwork Girl Of Oz,” says Jane who will be attending the Winkie Convention in California in June. (For those who don’t know, the Winkies live in the West of Oz and wear yellow instead of emerald).

New ‘Oz’ movie takes on a beloved story, minus Dorothy  “Anything that keeps Oz alive, I’m excited about,” says Carrie Hedges, president of the International Wizard of Oz Club. “Oz is continually expanding, and I think [these films] all have a place there.”  “They hewed much closer to Baum’s original,” Eric Shanower says. “It was such a hit, and had such an impact, that I think people are scared to remake something like that directly.”

Great-grandson of ‘Oz’ creator ready for more adventures  Baum was buying groceries one day while writing his first Oz story, 1989’s “Dorothy of Oz,” when he drove off without realizing he’d left the only copy of his work-in-progress on top of his car. He scoured the parking lot for it. He even enlisted store employees in the search. Finally, during one last effort later that day, he discovered the notebook laying in a gutter. Despite a small stream of water running over it, Baum was able to make out the writing. “It came that close, because I had literally worn myself out,” he says of the writing process up to that point. “I was already thinking, ‘I don’t think I could put this back together again.’ ”

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ again shows the everlasting appeal of L. Frank Baum’s classic  There’s no place like home. But not everyone buys that. On her 1979 album, “Hard Times for Lovers,” Judy Collins sings “Dorothy” by Hugh Prestwood. The song puts a completely different slant on the girl who went back to the farm. The chorus goes like this: “Dorothy was a fool to leave, she should have stayed. She had it right in her hands, she had it made.” The song concludes: “All her sorrow, all because/There ain’t no way to stand Kansas when you’ve been to Oz.”

Wizard Casts Its Spell Over Oz Legacy  As for Oz the Great and Powerful, it’s good to know that its makers haven’t forgotten the story’s roots. It may have cost $200m to make, compared with the $3m it cost to make the 1939 classic, but when we first meet Oz, working as a magician, he is plying his trade with the Baum Brothers’ Circus. It may be a blink-and-miss-it moment, but it does suggest that in paying attention to the tiny details, director Sam Raimi is intent on paying full tribute to the imperishable legacy of Frank L. Baum.

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)  It is in the small details where we find the true quality. As the camera pans left-to-right, in the background you might see a rainbow-coloured horse or an interesting moving tree. While the main story may not go I to detail verbally, there are visual moments to savour like Theodora’s tears burning scars into her cheeks. The comic relief comes from Zach Braff’s ‘flying monkey bell hop’ Finley, but the really isn’t enough laughs throughout considering the type of family-friendly fantasy film it is.  Also for a fantasy world to really work, you have to believe that people live there and as we’re not shown anyone outside of a wizard, witches and guards for some time it ends up feeling like a package holiday tour that avoids the locals.

One More Trip to Land of Oz  “Yes, there is definitely room for Disney’s version of Oz, without question,” Bob Gazzale, president of the American Film Institute said. But upon learning about the absence of Dorothy’s famous footwear (Warner holds the copyright), he grew more tentative. “Wait, hold everything — there are no ruby slippers?” he said. “Disney didn’t tell me that in the trailer.”

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