Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Review - Return to Oz

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they’re making a movie prequel to the Wizard of Oz. No, it’s not WICKED – Universal Studios actually own the rights to WICKED, and I expect they’ll make a movie of it at some point. However, it seems that in the meantime Disney has decided to use their rights to the Wizard of Oz franchise, so they are releasing a movie next year entitled Oz the Great and Powerful. I must say, I am mighty curious to find out what it’s like, since I am a massive Oz fan. I blame that movie as the sole reason for my shoe obsession.

Anyway, I thought I would review Return to Oz, the unofficial sequel to The Wizard of Oz. I also grew up with this movie, which was released in 1985 by Disney. Although I was never quite as fond of Return to Oz as the original, it is such a wonderful 1980s kids movie (similar to the Labyrinth and Dark Crystal) that it also has a special place in my heart.

The movie is actually based on the second and third Oz books: "The Marvelous Land of Oz" and "Ozma of Oz", with nods to many of the others. I must confess I have only read The Wizard of Oz, and that was not until this year! The novel is really different from the movie, but well worth a read. Anyway, the story of Return to Oz goes as follows:

It has been six months since Dorothy has returned home from Oz, and she still cannot sleep. She has been going on about imaginary places and people so much that Aunt Em and Henry decide her head must have gotten knocked around during the tornado and lost a few screws. So they decide to take Dorothy for a nice bout of electric shock therapy (I love how inappropriate 1980s kids movies are). She promptly escapes from the mental hospital, floats down the river on a crate and wakes up in Oz, where her pet chicken Billina can now talk. (What happened to Toto? I don’t know, apparently talking chickens are more in fashion these days). In Oz, Dorothy meets a whole new bunch of friends. They all set off to rescue the Scarecrow from the evil Nome King, who has used Dorothy's ruby slippers to lay waste to the Emerald City and take over Oz. There is also a headless witch called Mombi, who seriously freaked me out as a child – she collects heads (again, somewhat inappropriate). The Wheelers are a bunch of ruffians with wheels on all four limbs. Another obstacle is a desert that turns anyone into sand if they touch it. 

However, my favourite part of the whole movie is when the Nome King turns Dorothy’s friends into objects in the ornament room and she must discover which objects they are. I have no idea why this idea fascinated me as a child, but I still kind of love it.


Return to Oz also has one advantage on the original: it makes good use of Jim Henson puppets, which is sure to be a highlight for all you Muppet fans. The Wheelers are also done to great effect, and the newly introduced characters are really quite lovable.

In order to include the ruby slippers as part of this film, Disney had to pay royalties to MGM, the studio which had produced The Wizard of Oz. The slippers in the original novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" are in fact silver, but they were changed to ruby for the 1939 film to take better advantage of the newly developed Technicolor process. In the novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", Dorothy's magical shoes were actually destroyed when she used them to return to Kansas. In the subsequent novel "Ozma of Oz", one of the books on which this film is based, the Nome King possesses a magical belt with properties similar to those of the silver shoes. Early drafts of the script for Return to Oz reflect this, with the Nome King using a magical ruby belt which had been created from the ruby slippers.

This interesting fact is just for Luke: Director Walter Murch invited friend George Lucas to visit the set one day. During that visit Lucas wandered to different sound stages where he came across producer Rick McCallum working on a small film. The two became friends and later collaborated on the "Star Wars" prequels.

The Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion were originally to have more prominent roles in this film, but budget cuts forced their appearances to be reduced to mere cameos.

The film received a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as the sequel that was made the longest period of time after the original - it was released 46 years after The Wizard of Oz.  

 Tik-Tok: I have always valued my lifelessness.

 Jack Pumpkinhead: If his brain's ran down, how can he talk?
Dorothy: It happens to people all the time, Jack.

Here's the trailer:

 Until next time :)

1 comment:

  1. Definitely this movie played a part on all our lives, i really love The Wizard of Oz, i really wish they make some kind of remake heavily based on the original and by a respect director like Steven Spielberg or something like that. I'm not that excited on the upcoming wizard movie but i'll go watch it anyway. Loved your blog ! ;)