Thought Experiment: The Wizard of Oz

First off: this is more about the books than the movie.  The reason for this is pretty simple – as far as Awards for Movies that are Almost Nothing Like the Book, The Wizard of Oz pretty much has first prize.  Don’t get me wrong – the movie is good and so is the book, but, aside from the main characters’ names and the plot framework, they have almost nothing in common.  Well, they still have that same feeling of fantasy – Oz is a strange and wondrous place in both mediums.  And the yellow brick road is the same.

But, on to thought experiment:

One) In most of the books where Dorthy travels to Oz (and she goes several times – Baum wrote 15 Oz books and she’s in 14 of them) all of the animals she brings with her start talking – or, that is to say, all the animal except Toto.  Eureka the Kitten, Billina the Hen, and Jim the Cab Horse all chatter like magpies, but little Toto from the first book never says anything.

My first thought was maybe he doesn’t have anything to say, but my father suggested that more likely he’s embarrassed by his thick Scottish accent.  I like this answer better, so I’ll keep it.

Two) Now this doesn’t come up in the movie, but in the books all of the counties in Oz all have a color they identify with: in Munchkinland, they dress in blue and have blue houses; in the Land of the Winkies (which is the land the Wicked Witch of the West takes over) they all wear yellow; the Emerald City has green, obviously; the Country of the Quadlings, south of the Emerald City, has red; the Gillikins (to the north) has purple; and for some reason good witches always wear white.

Why?  Heck, if I know.  The people of these respective countries seem happy with their color choice, so I suspect cultural brainwashing.

This also means, interestingly enough, the Scarecrow wears blue.  Random note there.

Three) When the Wizard takes over, he takes the heir, Princess Ozma, to a nasty old witch, who turns her into a boy.  This comes up in The Marvelous Land of Oz and I don’t think it’s ever mentioned again, even though the Wizard turns up again and becomes a regular character in the series.

Really?!  I mean…how do you let something like this slide?  “Excuse me, you took over my kingdom and sent me to live with an abusive witch for all of formative years,” – really, Ozma?  You’re just letting that go?  I mean, I’d at least make the man sweat a little about his fate.

Of course, I’m not nearly so wise and kind as the princess is made out to be.  Maybe that’s it.

That’s about all I can think of really.  But – on a personal note – if you haven’t read the books, you really should.  I mean, you miss out on a lot if you just watch the movie – as good as the movie is.  You never see the Country of the China Dolls or get the story behind the Tin Woodsman, and you only get a little of the byplay between the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow.  (One of the things I liked best about Tinman was that they kept that very much alive.)  They’re fun stories – really – and great children’s books, though the get darker and darker as L. Frank Baum gets toward the end of his life and his health begins to fail.  Still, good stuff.



One thought on “Thought Experiment: The Wizard of Oz

  1. This was nice Autumn. I’ve always wondered about the whole Wizard’s Coup of the Princess. It was cruel and so not what I would ever think the Wizard of the movie could ever do. He might trick her out of her kingdom but nothing like that.


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