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Movies: 'Dorothy of Oz'

Edited as of Wed 13 Mar 2013 - 10:33
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How many Oz movies have there been? The Wizard of Oz (1939), of course. Return to Oz (1985). Dorothy in the Land of Oz (1980). Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz (1910), The Land of Oz (1910), His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914), and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914), all co-written or directed by Frank Baum himself. The Wiz (1978). The Wizard of Oz (1925), the silent version with Oliver Hardy as the Tin “Woodsman”. The Witches of Oz (2011). It’s not a movie, but the Broadway musical Wicked (2003). Does Zardoz (1974) count? Well … LOTS!

Now there is Dorothy of Oz (2013?), produced by Prana Studios in Los Angeles and Mumbai with a pretty impressive voice cast.

Prana subcontracted The Chubbchubbs Save Xmas for Sony Pictures Imageworks in 2007, and has been producing all of those Tinker Bell direct-to-video movies for Disney recently.

Is it anthropomorphic? Well, it’s got Tugg the talking tree, Wiser the Owl, the (formerly) Cowardly Lion, all those flying monkeys, Toto – does Toto get a speaking role at last? – a marshmallow soldier, a china-doll princess …

Is it any good? Watch the trailer and decide for yourself. [Sandy Schaefer/ScreenRant]


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Don't forget Tin Man (2007). (I wish I could!)

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I have it on DVD.

Well, I'll be...

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I work in a small town called Liberal, Kansas (it's about five miles from the OK border, so I'm still Oklahoman). In order to attract tourists, they decided, since neither the movie nor the books mentioned a hometown, that Liberal is Dorothy's hometown. This, despite the fact that Dorothy obviously lived on a farm and that, while the movie's message was "There's no place like home!" the first chapter of the book could be retitled "Kansas Sucks. Then There's a Tornado" and Dorothy wants to go home because she loves her aunt and uncle, not because she likes the farm; in a later book, when she gets the opportunity to move the entire family to Oz, she doesn't even look back.

I read all of Frank L. Baum's Oz books as a kid, and made it pretty far into the official non-Frank L. Baum's Oz books, as well. The local library had a great collection, after all. Dorothy's hometown is just down the road, doncha know.

Love the crap out of the Cowardly Lion.

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Also, I loved the scene in The Avengers when Captain America is all excited he got Iron Man's flying monkeys reference (which goes right over Thor's head).

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But have you read The Wizard of the Emerald City (Volshebnik Izumrodnogo Goroda) by Aleksandr Volkov (1939)? Volkov (1891-1977) later said that he was assigned by whatever the literary arm of the Communist Party was to translate it into Russian, but he took it upon himself to make several “improvements”. (1) By 1939 all Oz fans knew that all animals can talk in Oz, except for “Totoshka”, so he gave Toto a major speaking role. (2) He made Kansas a happy, cheerful land because he thought that, if he described Kansas as bleak and despondent as Baum wrote it, the Russian public would assume that Stalin had ordered him to rewrite it into anti-American propaganda and nobody would read it. (3) He changed the Gale’s farmhouse into a house trailer. A tornado picking up an entire house and keeping it intact? A house trailer was much more plausible.

Volkov’s rewritten Wizard of Oz was so popular in Russia that he later wrote five more completely original Oz novels. And they were popular enough that, after his death, at least four other Russian authors wrote sequels to them or their own Oz novels. Leonid Vladimirsky, one of them (Pinocchio in Oz), became president of a Russian Oz fan club which has its own website in English with a list of all the Russian Oz books with illustrations of their covers.

Fred Patten

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I never read the Oz books. But I have in my collection of 78 albums a 12 inch, 3 record set of the 4th Oz book, "Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz."

What's particularly interesting is that two animals, a cat and a horse, accompany Dorothy to Oz, and return home with her. Both develop human speech as they enter Oz, and lose it the instant they leave.

This begs the question, why didn't Toto gain human speech? Or, did Toto have the ability to speak, but just had too much dignity as a canine to use it?

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The latter. Baum later acknowledged that he never noticed the inconsistency that other normal animals could talk in Oz but Toto never did, until some child correspondents pointed it out to him. So in Tik-Tok of Oz, Baum established that Toto could talk if he wanted to; he just didn’t want to. Wikipedia: “Toto belongs to Dorothy Gale, the heroine of the first and many subsequent books. In the first book, he never spoke, although other animals, native to Oz, did. In subsequent books, other animals gained the ability to speak upon reaching Oz or similar lands, but Toto remained speechless. In Tik-Tok of Oz, continuity is restored: Toto reveals that he is able to talk, just like other animals in the land of Oz, and simply chooses not to. In the Lost Princess of Oz, he talks a great deal.” The Oz Wiki: “Does Toto talk? Not at first. When he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum hadn't created all the rules that he would later use in the Oz stories. So Toto didn't talk in that book. Baum kept Toto mute in his appearances in The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, and The Patchwork Girl of Oz as well, even though other animals from the Outside World could talk in those and other books. Finally, at the end of Tik-Tok of Oz, Baum addressed the problem at last. Dorothy confronted Toto and commanded him to talk, and Toto finally spoke for the first time. He's been speaking in the Oz books ever since, but he often prefers to stay quiet and use his native barks and growls instead. In the Russian books, however, Totoshka spoke as soon as he came to Magic Land.” Wikipedia on “U.S. State Dogs”: “While in Kansas as early as 2006, residents have suggested the Cairn Terrier as the state dog due to the breed's appearance as Toto in the film The Wizard of Oz. In 2012, Representative Ed Trimmer tabled a bill proposing the Cairn Terrier as a state symbol.

Fred Patten

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That's amazing. He came up with the same continuity fix I would have. I feel vindicated as an anthropomorphic writer.

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I sure did! I have all of them. Some of the best fanfiction ever written.

Well, I'll be...

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IGN review of first issue of the comic book adaptation of The Road to Oz. If I remember right, this one features a city ruled by anthro foxes!

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As long as we're listing Oz movies, it's at least worth noting that there's what's shaping up to be a pretty high-profile attempt to add to the canon, Disney's live-action Oz the Great and Powerful coming out next year. It stars James Franco and Mila Kunis, and is directed by Sam Raimi (of the original Spider-Man trilogy and, of course, the Evil Deadmovies).

Nothing in the trailer looks particularly anthropomorphic -- unless you count the brief glimpse of the winged monkeys, and some weird toothy flying critters earlier -- but, with all respect to Dorothy of Oz, Raimi's trailer looks a whole heapin' lot better. Given the comparative budgets you'd expect that, of course, but I love the nod to the original 1939 film's Kansa-vs.-Oz cinematography in the trailer.

Web site:

— Chipotle

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Disney will have to have really changed Baum's concept of Oz to get rid of the Cowardly Lion and all of the other anthropomorphic animals there. Which Disney may have done, of course. Yes, this does look worth seeing, anthro or not.

Fred Patten

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I grew up not to far from Chittenango, Baum's home town. They have an Oz fest there every year, but the one I'll remember was when allegedly the tornado made a guest appearance:

Certainly grew weak in their old age, or tornados don't like the air of New York so much, one or the other.

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About the author

Fred Pattenread storiescontact (login required)

a retired former librarian from North Hollywood, California, interested in general anthropomorphics