Classic movies. The most well-known motion-picture Adaptation in the world is based on the novel, “The Wonderful World of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum. It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1939.
The story stars Judy Garland and Terry the dog, billed as Toto. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and won for Best Original Song for Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow.”
There were 44 identifiable changes from the novel, and the motion-picture Adaptation. Oz, and Dorothy’s time there was not a dream.
The Good Witch of the North, the Good Witch of the South, and the Queen of the Field Mice were merged into one omniscient character.
To take advantage of Technicolor, Dorothy’s silver shoes were changed to ruby slippers. The role of the Wicked Witch of the West was enlarged to provide dramatic tension and to unify an otherwise episodic plot.
The role and character of Dorothy was changed from a damsel in distress, to a little girl who rescues all her
friends—–in keeping with the author’s women-suffrage sympathies.
And, if there was anyone more likely to create political satire from an innocent children’s story, it was Author, L. Frank Baum.
Baum was sophisticated and understood that effective satire kept his audience guessing. Sophistication explains his disclaimer: it was “written solely” to pleasure children.
This odd disclaimer is a hint Baum intended to conceal a message in his text. To do so was consistent with his character. Why claim that a children’s story was “written solely,” for children unless he wished to imply the opposite?
In light of parallels of Oz to politics, the disclaimer stands revealed for what the story is: the staging of an elaborate jest. Baum loved the preposterous, and nourished the pleasure of private jokes.
In the story, Dorothy is a young farm girl who lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in a sepia-tinted, vintage, Kansas in 1900. She’s troubled by a cruel neighbor, Miss Gulch, but farmhands, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke pay no attention to her problem.
Miss Gulch arrives with the Sheriff to have Dorothy’s dog destroyed for biting her leg, but Dorothy and Toto escape by running away from home.
They meet a fortune-teller, who tricks them to return, but a tornado comes up and Dorothy is hit on the head and knocked unconscious.
She wakes to discover her house is being carried aloft by the twister, and peeking from a window, she sees the horrible Miss Gulch is chasing her on a bicycle.
The house lands in the Technicolor world of Oz where Dorothy is greeted by rejoicing Munchkins, because when her house landed, it killed the Wicked Witch of the East.
The Wicked Witch of the West arrives and claims her evil sister’s magic ruby slippers. But the Good Witch from the North arrives and transfers the slippers to Dorothy’s feet, which causes the Wicked Witch to swear revenge.
The Good Witch tells Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz will help her get back home.
So, down the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy goes and makes friends with the Scarecrow, the Tin-man, and the Cowardly Lion, who join her to ask the Wizard for a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively.
They all meet the Wizard, and he agrees to grant their wishes, only if they bring him the evil Witch’s broom-stick.
When they reach the evil Witch’s Castle, they are captured and the Scarecrow is set on fire. But Dorothy saves the day with a bucket of water, which inadvertently kills the Witch.
The guards surprisingly rejoice at the Witch’s death and give Dorothy the charred broom-stick in gratitude.
Returning to the Emerald City, they discover the Wizard refuses to grant their wishes, but when Toto exposes him as a pip-squeak, he gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Lion a medal, and the Tin-man a heart-shaped pocket watch.
In addition, he offers Dorothy a ride home in his hot-air balloon, but Toto becomes suspicious and runs to find the Good Witch who tells Dorothy she can return by clapping her ruby slippers together three times and repeating, “There’s no place like home.”