Friday, March 2, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

Magical March has just begun and I've already managed to finish my first book! Woohoo! Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting Magical March, and I signed up for the highest level - 8+ books! Since I'm still trying to wrap up Uncle Tom's Cabin from last month's reading, I decided to go with something light while I finish that up, and so I started with The Wizard of Oz.

It's strange to me that I'd never read any of the Oz books. I think part of the reason is that I know one time when I looked for them at a bookstore long ago, they didn't carry them, and the library didn't have them, and this was in the dark ages pre-Amazon and easy online ordering so I must have just given up. Now I have the whole collection on my Nook, although I read this story in a hard copy I picked up somewhere along the way.

I LOVE the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, and I saw a musical version in the West End in London on my 30th birthday this past November and adored the performance. After seeing the movie for the first time when I was just 4 or 5, my aunt made the mistake of asking me what it was about and I apparently reenacted the whole movie for her. :) So, even though, books are usually better than movies, I was a bit hesitant over this one. I knew I'd be picturing the movie and stage performance the whole time. And I was - most of the time anyway.

However, that didn't stop me from enjoying it. It was great to see old friends and read about their adventures. There were quite a few differences, primarily of things that happen in the book that don't make the movie even though it's a slim little book.

Here are a few of the differences that stuck out most to me:
  • There are no songs! I knew most of these were probably added for the movie, but I was surprised there was no greeting from the munchkins or "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."
  • The ruby slippers are silver!!! This was actually familiar to me. I think that there was something about this in the Smithsonian describing the display with the ruby slippers from the movie. They wanted to show off technicolor.
  • Dorothy doesn't say "There's no place like at home" at the end. She says "Take me home to Aunt Em!" Not nearly as catchy. 
  • There's a wonderful back story about the Tin Man and how he used to be human, although it's a bit grotesque as the Wicked Witch causes him to cut off all of his body parts until he's made entirely of tin. It sort of reminded me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "It's only a flesh wound!" 
  • Glinda is the Good Witch from the South, not the North. She's not the same as the Good Witch from the North that appears at the beginning. (Side note: The Glinda in the West End performance had the most spectacular dress ever. Seriously. That thing was nothing but bling. It was like she was wearing a million glittering diamonds in a swishy dress form. I want to wear that thing just once!)
  • The Wizard fools people through ventriloquism, acting, and puppetry, not sound and technology effects, which I suppose wouldn't have been invented yet. 
  • The group goes on many adventures that don't make it in to the movie - they deal with mice, Winkies, half bear half tiger creatures, and others. 
  • They visit a literal chinatown, where everything is made of china - including the people and animals. If they are taking to the real world, they freeze, turning into dolls. 
  • The Emerald City is emerald because everyone wears green glasses. 
  • The opening is very short - there's no evil neighbor trying to get Toto.
  • The Winged Monkeys get a backstory too, and have way more depth than in the movie/play.
  • There are no uncles, which is a good thing, because I hate how the movie makes it all seem like a dream. It wasn't a dream. It totally happened! 
Even though I'm listing out the differences, one way wasn't better than the other. I still enjoyed the book, and I'm excited about reading the rest of the series. I think one of the things I loved most about the movie when I was younger was that Kansas and tornadoes were familiar - I'm from Oklahoma. This was a girl from my neck of the woods having these types of adventures, not someone in faraway London, which already seemed magical to me, discovering a magic wardrobe or some entirely fictional world. If Dorothy could go there, surely there is hope for me, right? I'm glad it still holds the same charm as an adult.

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