From Book To Movie: Oz The Great and Powerful
As regular blog readers will know, I enjoy watching and discussing movies based on books and thought it would be a good idea to have an occasional feature where I talk about adaptations currently in the theaters or recently released on DVD.
Title: Oz: The Great and Powerful
Adapted From: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
Blurb: A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.
Book overview: I really enjoyed the Oz series when I was younger and have since read many different versions and retellings of this story that have varied from great to not so wonderful. I can’t directly compare the film to the book because it is a prequel and based not on one particular book but drawn from the entire series of novels. I will say it draws a lot from the original stories, particularly The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in terms of using elements and characters that we all find very familiar.
Things that were changed:
- The entire plot of this film is new and the invention of the film makers but it most definitely set in the same world.
- The film includes a romance between Glinda and the Wizard of Oz that was not made reference to in the original novel.
- It gives a more detailed back story to both the Wizard and the Wicked Witch characters.
- In the original story the Wizard of Oz was not a magician but a hot air balloonist and ventriloquist, though he did work for circus.
- Where in the books the King only had one daughter, Ozma, he has three in the film who we discover are the Witches of Oz. (Also, one of the books The Marvelous Land of Oz mentions that the Wizard was responsible for deposing the King, though this was changed in later books).
- The Wizard builds the Emerald city and unites the kingdoms in the original whereas in this version the Emerald City already exists when Oz arrives.
Things that were kept the same:
- It includes the wicked witch of the west and her sister the wicked witch of the east, though it changes their back stories. Glinda features in the story but her back history is changed.
- It features the Emerald city, the yellow brick road and the characters the Wizard interacts with are characters from the original stories including a girl from China Country.
- Characters leap to the conclusion that Oz is a great wizard, much like in the original, and just like in the original he uses trickery and technology to give the appearance that he has tremendous powers.
Things I liked:
- This film was absolutely gorgeous. I saw it by accident in 3D and it was well worth the extra price of the ticket. It truly brought the land of Oz to life in a spectacular and gorgeous way.
- I felt the film was generally really well cast. James Franco was particularly good in the lead role, making Oz selfish and greedy but also quite charming.
- I also really liked Michelle Williams as Glinda and felt she was perfectly cast in her role.
- I loved the costumes, they were gorgeous without being over the top and really fit the setting of this story.
- I loved all the nods to the movie musical in terms of its look and style.
- The story was really fun and engaging. I was excited to see what would happen from beginning to end.
- I loved seeing China Country in this film because it was such a cool part of the original book series. The film brings it to life beautifully.
The entire start up sequence was just amazing and gorgeous. I thought it was wonderful that, as in the 1939 film, the opening sequence is in sepia and the Academy (4:3) aspect ratio before opening up into widescreen and filling with color as he arrives in Oz.
Things I disliked:
- There weren’t that many things about this film I didn’t like. The only aspect I wasn’t as keen on was the casting of Mila Kunis. Theodora turns out to be a complex character and I wish she had given her more nuance.
I really loved this film and it is by far one of my favorite films I have seen this year. It’s obvious a lot of time, care and love went into the making of this film. I loved the anti-hero aspect of the main character and how he develops throughout the story to the end. It ends on a very positive note, but I think that was in keeping with the tone of the classic Oz stories.