Lost in Adaptation: The Wizard of Oz

The Cowardly Lion could kick your ass.

About The Dom

Reviewer of games, TV shows and movies. The Dom also likes to look at film adaptations of books and talk about what got lost transitioning from page to screen.

Leave a Reply

88 Comments on "Lost in Adaptation: The Wizard of Oz"

bitchwitch
Guest

the choice to make her shoes Rudy slippers was made so that the shoes would stand out on the movie screen.

The Mysterious M
Guest

Another thing was that technicolor was this really new technology so they wanted to use it to its full ability.

simsgirlgem
Guest

Damn you guys beat me to it

The Mysterious M
Guest

His name, at least as I’ve always heard it, is…well say “bow” (like take a bow) with an M at the end

DRSNova
Guest

It’s a German name (meaning “tree”), and yes, the pronounciation would be pretty close to what you describe.

caffeinatedkate
Guest
I’m glad you covered the thing that always bugged me most about the adaptation, turning the Cowardly Lion into a bipedal lion-man of some sort rather than an actual lion. I appreciate they had limited special effects, but I would have thought they could at least create a pantomime horse style lion suit with two men inside it. I think the point about Dorothy wanting to return home was more about wanting to see her aunt and uncle again rather than wanting to see Kansas again, but it would have been a nicer ending to have brought them to live… Read more »
cannedfury
Guest

It does happen eventually in the books. The tornado wrecking their home left her aunt and uncle even more broke and a slightly older Dorothy finally figures out their situation sucks. They all move to Oz where it gets so schmaltzy, you kind of regret common sense won.

Anon Tumahab
Guest

They did actually consider casting MGM’s own Leo the Lion or a different real lion for the role, but they realized the production using a real wild animal would be too much trouble, so they opted for a man.

simsgirlgem
Guest

At least the sisters Grimm series fixed it by saying that while in use the slippers glowed red with power but were silver when the magic wasn’t used

The MegaNerd
Guest

Sisters Grimm series is awesome isn’t it?

Darth Nilronne
Guest

One thing I liked, is that they used the china people, and some of the other concepts from the book, in Oz the Great and Powerful.

The MegaNerd
Guest

I appreciate the effort but for every time they did that they threw in elements of the movie as if they were nervous about just using the original book. Considering how badly ‘Return to Oz’ did it wouldn’t surprise me if the elements of the original movie were added afterwards.

Anon Tumahab
Guest

I think it’s ironic that though the movie version of “The Wiz” is considered inferior to this…at least the Lion in that one turned out to not really be a coward, which was actually a step closer to the book.

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest
Wasn’t there something about mouse queen and mice dragging the sleeping Lion from the poppy field? I’m sorry, I didn’t read the original book yet (I read the Russian adaptation by Volkov countless times though), but I thought that it was there. In the movie, if I remember it correctly, Glinda neutralized poppies’ effect by her magic. Although I can be mistaken. There was quite a lot of changes in Russian version. Girl’s name was Ellie Smith and she lived with her parents. Toto[shka] talked in the Magical land. The word “Oz” wasn’t mentioned at all and the wizard’s name… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest
The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow rescued Dorothy and Toto from the poppy field but were unable to resuce the Lion beause he was so big. While they were lamenting the fate of their companion the Tin Woodman spotted a fieldmouse being persecuted by a wild cat and saved it by decapitating the cat with his axe. The field mouse turned out to be the queen of all field mice and in gratitude for being saved she and her people rescued the lion (they were too small for the poppies to affect them) by towing him out on a wooden… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest

The Russian version sounds weird.

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest
Oh, so the part about the queen of mice was the same (she was called Ramina in this version because, apparently, Volkov couldn’t stand it then a character doesn’t have a proper name). Well, it was at times less weird – there were no people made of china, or living trees, no Hammer-heads – there were Marrans instead, who were just a tribe that could jump very well. There were saber-toothed tigers instead of that tiger-bear creatures. Description of the girl’s life in Kansas was much shorter and far less depressing – she wasn’t that much bothered with her surroundings… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest

Wow, where can I find these movies?!?!

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest
If only there were movies… I wrote about it below – this stories were mostly read. There was a stop-motion series in the 70’s, but the book usually came first. Well, at least until my generation (born the year the USSR ceased to exist). Then we got animated series (4 parts) based on Baum’s book (and the girl’s name was Dolly, because it’s a mixture of Dorothy and Ellie), but I vaguely remember them. I didn’t even realized that it was Baum’s version (but, then again, it has the same plot). I didn’t remember Jack Pumpkinhead was in it (apparently… Read more »
PontyMython
Guest

iron lumberjack? wasn’t that one of the jaegers from pacific rim?

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest

I still think that calling Gadget from “Rescue Rangers” Screw-Nut was somewhat worse…

SailorRustyBacon
Guest

Ohhmygawd I really hope there’s a film version of THAT out there!

Just for the possibility of Snob or Brandon Tenold reviewing it XD squeeeeee

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest
Does the implication that it must suck means “because it’s different” or “because it Soviet/Russian” (“and they would watch it without translation so it would be even funnier”)? X) Because the changes that were made are no better or worse that ones made in the MGM movie. There’s a good reason why USSR called itself “the most reading country in the world” – a lot of entertainment came from books. Show-business wasn’t really a business, cinema and animation were sponsored by the state, so it didn’t work the way it worked in USA. Brandon’s “look at ‘War and Peace’!” argument… Read more »
Animikean
Guest

That was a wonderfully done review, I laughed and now really want to read the books (I got some of them but haven’t made the time yet)

Every time I thin of Kansas I think back to the book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and cringe. I don’t recommend you read that one, it’s all about U.S. politics.

But I do hope Princess Bride will appear on this show, it’s an example of the modern phenomena of the book’s author also being the movie’s screenwriter.

The MegaNerd
Guest
Finally! A side-by-side comparison between these two works! I love the book, I consider it one of the best children’s books of all time and one my favourite novels as well as the land of Oz being one of my favourite fantasy worlds. I have a dislike for the movie for two reasons; Firstly I would be more then happy to treat the book and the film as two seperate entities…If everyone esle would; the movie was so good and is considered such a revered classic that any subsequent movies are immediately compared to it. Which means that when they… Read more »
LikaLaruku
Guest

The most faithful adaptation was the anime series, & even it used the MGM Dorothy.

I have yet to see this adaptation of Ozma of Oz from the 60s or 70s. It looked kinda promising. I saw a trailer for it on VHS decades ago, but can’t really find it. Had a helluva time trying to find the drastically altered Treasure Island adaptation where Jim & Silver are tight but Trelawny & the crew keep trying to kill Jim.

LikaLaruku
Guest

Oz the Great & Powerful was just dreadful. Itt was more of a Prequil to Wicked, which I also hate.

HMorris73
Guest

Huh? Um, no. The Oz the Great and Powerful and Wicked don’t really fit together at all in terms of continuity.

The MegaNerd
Guest

I really really wanted to like Wicked but I only liked ‘Defying Gravity’. Admittedly I only listened to the full soundtrack on YouTube so maybe if I see it on stage I’ll see something I’ve missed but it feels like they sacrificed so much story potential for oz-themed high school drama.
And yet strangely I still want them to make a movie, I’m a bit of a masochist at heart I suppose.
Oz the Great and powerful was awful, Raimi has made SO much better (Darkman is one of the best superhero films of all time!!!).

agoodname
Guest

I read some of the books. They are pretty great. I should read some of the other ones some time. They had some pretty dark moments in them. They had some pretty great female characters as well.

Gotta watch Return to Oz at some point. It looks awesome.

The MegaNerd
Guest

If you like the books you will LOVE ‘Return to Oz’. I liked it but after I read the books I loved it.

Pille22
Guest

Don’t ask the Wizard for trousers. He’ll just say that you have the trousers to change all along. xD

The MegaNerd
Guest

LOL

angel85
Guest

Courage is not the lack of fear, nay, a lack of fear is nothing but foolhardiness, true courage is the ability to act in spite of fear. Too bad there weren’t any saturday morning cartoons in 1900 because every kid knows that now.

MavenCree
Guest

1 – They changed her shoes from silver to ruby in order to take advantage of the new movie trope of having films in coulour. (It’ll never catch on.) Silver shoes wouldn’t have stood out as well on the screen.

2 – In the book, Dorthy was a little girl, not a teenager, so it’s understandable why she was always wanting to go home, no matter where said home was.

The MegaNerd
Guest

Believe it or not MGM wanted Dorothy to be a little girl too. Judy Garland was their second choice becuase they couldn’t get Shirley Temple.
In some parallel reality there exists a version of the Wizard of Oz with Shirley Temple as Dorothy. In another parallel reality there exists a fully animated movie version made by Disney as a follow-up to ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’.
Which universe would you rather live in?

MavenCree
Guest
And oh yeah… that childhood thing that scared the shite outta me… I had two. One was the woman who was turned into a robot at the end of Superman 3 (Shuddup.), which I believe influenced me to this day with my aversion to amputation and prosthetic limbs (they creep me out) But the other was actually in one of your other reviews that you mentioned here. The Gomok (the black wolf thing) from The Never Ending Story. Scared the pants off of me as a kid and I guess it still does ,because as I was watching your video… Read more »
HMorris73
Guest

Both of those things scared me as a kid too.

ran76
Guest

The creepy cyborg woman from Superman 3 scared the crap out of me as a kid.

Animikean
Guest

Both of those, me too. And the monster from Terrorvision, and (1986) Invaders from Mars :/

The MegaNerd
Guest

For years the zombies from ‘Thriller’ scared me so much Michael Jackson music made me nervous. I was also scared of Harry Potter 3 for various reasons, watching it at night didn’t help.

oddrants
Guest

I heard that the silver slippers were silver in the book as an allusion to the silver standard populist platform politics of the time, not sure if that is true or just one interpretation. And I heard that – like with Lucille Ball’s hair – they were made red for the movie to really show off brand new color at the time.

oddrants
Guest
I once had a history class that took a populist interpretation of Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Of course, it sucked the joy out of it by turning a whimsical fairy tale into allegories for farmers, gold v. silver standard, inflation and turn of the century politics. But I think there is probably a lot of validity to it. It might help explain why the protagonist is specifically from Kansas and why she wants to return, a romanticization of farmers, or at least pro-farmer. Oz and the emerald city representing the wealthy elite (bankers, tycoons, politicians) and essentially being con-men. and… Read more »
RobbyB
Guest
Its a popular theory but it doesn’t really carry any weight since it wasn’t created until some 60 years after the book (and decades after the movie), and it would have clicked much sooner if it had really been that obvious. The theory didn’t really catch on till the 80’s after Watergate. But Baum’s actual politics were pretty definitively NOT populist, (the opposite in fact) and the man that originally wrote the essay in the 60’s, Littlefield, later admitted it wasn’t based on any sort of fact but his own personal musings. The analogy can still sort of fit if… Read more »
StrongRex
Guest
The Wizard did tell Dorothy and her friends in the book that they could see him, but they had to see him separately, unlike in the movie where they all saw him together. The Wizard appeared to Dorothy as the Head we saw in the movie, but to the Scarecrow, he was a Lovely Lady. To the Tin Woodman, he was a Beast. To the Lion, he was a Ball of Fire. This is something I’m glad the movie changed, because the way the book does it is not efficient storytelling. They each go the Wizard one at a time,… Read more »
JamiSings
Guest

You forgot two –

1: Dorothy was a five year old blue eyed blonde.

2: Dorothy was a racist little bitch.

Seriously, read the books – the entire original series. She calls anyone who’s not like her “ugly” and “stupid” and other names and always blames them for things that are not their fault. Like the time Toto ate one of the people in a village made up of all living, breathing baked goods.

ManWithGoodTaste
Guest
There is also Tin Man, which is a brilliant miniseries retelling. Probably the best retelling by the director. Totally worth your money and time. And who could forget the infamous russian versions? The first book was translated into Russian by a Alexander Volkov several decades ago, with some name changes (Dorothy = Ellie). But due to the iron curtain at the time, translation of any of the sequels could not be arranged. So the man wrote his own sequels, 5 of them in total. It was quite something. All of those books have been translated into English, although they are… Read more »
fANYA_KOPlan
Guest

I like “Tin Man”. It manages to stay cool even though it feels like there were re-writings (especially the fact that it is called “Tin Man”, but the story isn’t centered around him). So it makes me wonder what would it look like if it was changed less…
And I grew up with Russian versions by Volkov. As far as I can see, without reading the sequels of the original yet, they tend to be less creative then Baum’s books. But they only book I was displeased with is the last one. I can’t remember it o_o

ManWithGoodTaste
Guest

Re-red them.

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest

I actually did several times in the last few years (well, except for the last one because I thought that “finished after the author’s death”+”has an alien invasion in it”+”I can’t remember a thing about it”=”I don’t want to read it yet”). I still wouldn’t call them bad.
The only thing that I actually thought was “too much” was how Urfin treated those dwarfs in the 5th book. I know that he changed his views, but he was literally cooing over them XD

cannedfury
Guest

Tin Man? The one where monkeys fly out of the witch’s boobs and the Scarecrow does kung fu about as convincingly as a real scarecrow? With memetically terrible series with lines like, “You’re the only one who knows what a homo looks like” and “A homo is a man weak of heart”? Where they try to be edgy and call the setting “the O.Z.” and give it random CGI monsters based on nothing?

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest

Yeah. And I still liked it X)
And I thought that CGI-monsters were based on poppy field… Yeah, that doesn’t sound better than “based on nothing”…

cannedfury
Guest

That’s fine, people can like anything. I’m mostly replying to ManWithGoodTaste saying it’s brilliant and people should spend cash on a SyFy flick.

fANYA_KOPlan
Guest

Well, I too think that it is worthy of attention. It has problems, but, I think, people, who like the Oz universe would find it interesting. It has so many shout-outs X)
And for a SyFy flick it has less CGI-animation. I actually was thinking “aren’t they infamous for their effects?” – and then those “poppies” appeared X)

ManWithGoodTaste
Guest

Wow, you are a classic Internet Asshole.

Dacilriel
Guest

Great episode. The movie is really good, but I love the book, and I wish they hadn’t changed so much. There was an animated adaptation made in 1982 that followed the book much more closely.

The main reason Dorothy wants to get home so badly is that she loves her aunt and uncle. There’s even a bit in the book where she mentions that if she doesn’t get home they will assume she’s dead and go into mourning, which they won’t be able to afford because the crops weren’t good the previous year.

Tactical1
Guest

The Dom has got “it”

Normally I just come here for Critic, Brain, and ole Mike J. It’s their humor and the way they tend to bookend their reviews seems almost educational. It’s not just for that particular film in the episode, but you learn something about cinema you didn’t know before.

This kid has that.

The MegaNerd
Guest

Ditto!

SailorRustyBacon
Guest
The wicked witch never bothered me as a little girl; she just came across as cartoonishly evil. Now, the Wheelers, the Deadly Desert, and especially Mombi from Return to Oz, creeped me out! While my 6-year-old self was still able to watch the Wheelers & how they ended up turning into sand, I couldn’t stand to see those detached heads being awake in their glass cases; I always ducked and covered during those parts :p I hope Dom gets around to comparing Return to Oz with the book, combined with Ozma of Oz. I also hope he covers Charlie &… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest

Even though I love ‘Return to Oz’ that scene where she wakes up the mombi heads gives me serious goosebumps. I once watched ‘Return to Oz’ with my father and he said there was something disturbing about the Wheelers in Kubrickian way.

LikaLaruku
Guest
The thing that scared you as a kid but didn;t bother anyone else….My creepy-ass Teddy Ruxpin animatronic.. Turning itself on at midnight, singing “My Friend” in a drowning voice, talking to Grubby (who wan’t there), his eyes rolling into the back of his head…Needless to say, his batteries were low & his eyes were in need of repair. Actually, it was the witch’s belt, not her hat, that controlled the flying monkeys. & the Scarecro’s brain was a mishmash on pins, needles, & bran, not putty. Yeah, Scarecrow’s pretty straight on from the book. In latter books you realize that… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest

Thing that scared me that doesn’t bother anyone else: the scene in Beetlejuice where Geena Davis’s eye pop out of her head. That scene has prevented me from watching the movie to this day but no one else seems bothered by it.

Moviemantweeter1999
Guest
You called me your beautiful watcher now I feel special. Anyways good episode and the china town was used in the recent oz flick OZ:the Great and Powerful and that one was a decent flick but they made it in the film that you have to feel bad for the Chinatown doll character they introduced(which I guess I did). But people like Lindsay Ellis didn’t really like the movie but I don’t agree with them. I also think you don’t think you need too be saying your pharaprasing since I think we got that allready!!! Also Im not gonna say… Read more »
Vercalos
Guest

I do love the books, for all that I enjoy the film

Djinnk042
Guest

The Oz books are amazing, but I’ve managed not to see this film in its entirety despite living in Kansas.

Xane2
Guest

Please, please do The Congress one day. It’s the perfect example of an awesome movie that also is an atrocious adaption.

CJ Willis
Guest

Oh dear. I didn’t need to find more reviewers to love…I don’t have much time to screw around as it is…but…damn you, this series is fun as hell!

the notorious white moth
Guest
the notorious white moth
I love the Return to Oz movie; never read the book. I think the change to ruby slippers was, like so much of the film (including the reason The Wizard of Oz with its very strong color motifs was the first color film in the first place) just to show off the new color rendering technology. This movie was a tech demo. For those who have read the first book: does anyone else think it odd that Nick would weep bitterly for any ants he might have stepped on, but didn’t even bat an eye at decapitating two cats for… Read more »
fANYA_KOPlan
Guest
Yeah, he was looking a bit hypocritical for me too. Although I read the Russian version, where the scene of weeping over a crushed bug was removed (and another scene of murder was added =D). But still, it was “all of the life is precious AND I WILL DECAPITATE YOU IF YOU’RE THINKING OTHERWISE!!!” (while two of the group are carnivores). But also I thought that that scene with the rescue of the mice queen was strange either way. He interrupted the perfectly natural thing. By decapitation. And, sure, it was lucky for them that the mouse was the queen… Read more »
The MegaNerd
Guest

You need to do John Carter of Mars next, I was surprised reading the books how faithful the movie was which is why I’m kinda disgusted by how much hate that movie gets. You should also review some Tarzan at some point.

JamiSings
Guest
I keep seeing people mentioning that they hope to see The Princess Bride. I hope to God not. That book ruined the movie for me because I didn’t realize until I read it how stupid Buttercup actually is. She’s in the Too Stupid To Live category. She didn’t deserve to be a heroine, she’s just TOO DUMB. I’d love to see a (positive! cause I’m sick and tired of seeing negativity) side by side review of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter book and movie. (Did you know that aside from the vampires and the fact Will was actually the friend of… Read more »
wpDiscuz