This fondness for the Oz stories began in childhood, which is my quick disclaimer as to why Wicked and Enchanted are not listed under my Oz loves. Unless L. Frank Baum had something to do with the plot I don't want to know. Smoosh the characters Mombi and Princess Langwidere together in Return to Oz all you like – just don't think you know the strange motivations behind the witches and their actions.
The stories also feature matriarchal figures who are either a) just plain mysterious b) heckbent on learning Dorothy Gale a life lesson or c) maddened by isolation, surrounded as they are by either Munchkins, Gillikins, Winkies (oh you shh) or Quadlings to which I fear they can't relate. Like recalcitrant printers informing you there are still tasks to complete before your goal can be reached these 'Good' witches are always informing Dorothy that she has to do something else before she can go home. It goes to show how good natured Dorothy is when the story ends with Glinda smirking (actually maybe I don't like these characters) that Dorothy's been tripping around in the very instruments that can carry her home. I mean look, I realise that just as many a TV thriller could be cut short with a simple mobile phone call, that's why so many tearful characters have to be out of signal range/credit, the silver slippers' powers had to be kept under wraps but Dorothy's ability to graciously thank Glinda for the up until now withheld information is a great show of patience and manners.
Dorothy Gale is a great role model for children, she takes control nutrition wise, gets some exercise and frequently scolds new acquaintances on the importance of manners. Having led her little motley crew all the way to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz she learns the disappointing truth that being grown-up and/or male does not make you omnipotent. In fact Dorothy clearly coped a lot better than Oscar Diggs did on arrival to Oz.
It looks suspiciously like some women with magical powers waiting for a man to bluff his way round Oz in a bid to find himself.
Disney's 2013 film Oz: The Great and Powerful will tell the story of how Oscar Diggs became Oz. In 3D! Otherwise you won't understand. James Franco plays the character of Diggs who in a self promoting publicity stunt takes off in a hot air balloon with the letters O Z on the balloon. Diggs gets transported in his beautiful balloon to the land of Oz, where in the trailer (oh, like you have somehow seen the unreleased film) he is met by people ruled by witches who are apparently bowled over by the balloon thing. Such technology! Over here we only have winged monkeys and you need a cap to operate them.
The trailer shows Diggs being greeted by Theodora, not in her traditional pigtails and eyepatch but played by the glamorous Mila Kunis. Evanora (played by a not so dusty Rachel Weiss) joins Theodora to plead with Diggs the magician to save them, the witches, against a great tyranny.
Of course we know Theodora and Evanora are the manipulative baddies, because they are beautiful brunettes – duh. It's not just the make overs that Theodora and Evanora have had that jars with the original L. Frank Baum tales. As we've discussed the female characters in Oz might be good, evil or a bit unhinged but they are all more or less in control in every story. Only in Oz: The Great and Powerful it looks suspiciously like some impressive women with magical powers waiting for a man to bluff his way round Oz in a bid to find himself.
We see Franco trapped in the eye of the storm screaming from his balloon basket “I don't want to die! I haven't accomplished anything yet!” What he means is nobody thinks of him as powerful. Or great. Not: I haven't willed all my money and possessions to the needy. Baum's Oz is a bumbling almost accidental conman who doesn't want to disappoint. So great is his desire to please there is an episode in which he hands over the rightful ruler of Oz, the baby Princess Ozma, to Mombi – who in turn helps install him as the ruler of Oz. Disney's adaptation of Diggs's story seems to have squeezed the intricate Oz stories into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.
Witch meets magician, thinks magician is awesome. Magician has complex, witch says magician has to reach inside himself because he's actually well powerful. It's not quite the message or life lesson earlier Oz stories impart.
Will Oz: The Great and Powerful influence me in the manner Return to Oz did? Should I pass a green ornament I know touching it and saying “Oz!” is my duty, just in case a citizen of Oz has been transformed by the Nome King. Billina the hen can't always be there to save the day with a well timed egg delivery.