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When novels are created into a film, as they often are, it is a delicate matter because of the imagination involved in reading a novel. A writer puts an immense amount of creativity and dedication when writing a book, and in most cases - especially in children?s literature - the author does his best to create vivid images and pays attention to minor details. This is so the child can fully picture what is going on in the story, particularly if they are being read to. In this specific case, Frank Baum?s classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was distributed in 1900 to later be adapted into a movie thirty-nine years later in 1939. The basic storyline, although the same, varies quite a bit from the original book to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer version on screen, The Wizard of Oz, with many changes such as the basic character of Dorothy, to the minor details, the use of violence in text versus on film, and even the nature of the adventures themselves. Through comparing and contrasting, it will be discovered of the benefits of novel versus film, and why novels, in most cases, are the better option for children to learn and develop bountiful imaginations.
Although Baum?s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was written far earlier than the movie was released, many people, in this day in age at least, have seen the movie before reading the book. The generation of teens and middle aged people were more exposed to media in the latest few decades and therefore most watched the movie and did not read the book, giving them an entirely different perspective on the story. For the most part, the film follows the book only in a very broad way, and several phrases such as, "I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek" (Baum 101) and "Oh no, my dear, I'm a very good man; I'm just a very bad Wizard" (Baum 101) are even taken directly from the novel. Many details are altered or even absent, while many of the perils that Dorothy encountered in the novel are not even revealed in the movie. This brings up a sensitive question on whether or not Dorothy is a genuine character or not, and it depends almost entirely on which adaptation someone has seen first. It is worth it to be noted of the fact that the novel never depicts Dorothy as a damsel in distress to be rescued by her friends, but rather the reverse. Dorothy, a figure heavily influenced by the feminism in the novel, finds her own way out of Witch?s castle herself, being more plucky and resourceful in the novel (Halsall 2009) and rescuing her friends, which makes her a lot more likable and heroic. When viewing Dorothy in the film adaptation, on the other hand, viewers see a teen (played by Judy Garland) who is quite concerned for herself and her well being. She, in some people?s opinions, is a bit irritating (compared to her original character in the book) in her personality traits as she often only wants what is best for her. When readers discover Dorothy in the original novel, Dorothy is a sweet very young girl clearly focused on the happiness and welfare of others and truly wants what is best for her friends. This is an incident that is very similar to that of one in Lewis Carroll?s Alice?s Adventures in Wonderland, although opposite, as readers mostly like the character of Alice in the Disney adaptation as she is made out to be a lot sweeter and kinder, but find her to be a dim brat in the novel. This can be seen in the tea party scene where Alice sits down at the table before the March Hare and the Hatter invite her to join them for wine,
- It wasn?t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,? said the March Hare.
- I didn?t know it was your table,? said Alice: ?it?s laid for a great many more than three.?(Carroll 60)
This shows of her arrogant attitude and of how she appears to believe she can rule over everyone. It also proves how different artists view the same characters in entirely different way, and how perception is extremely important when it comes to re-creating a character from text to film.
Another interesting note, which is the biggest and most important difference between Baum?s novel and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, is the reality of the story ? that is, her adventures throughout Oz, travelling on the yellow brick road, and meeting her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Lion. When reading the novel, readers experience a journey of magical encounters and lands of special creatures and mystical powers. Readers expand their minds and learn of the different worlds that can be brought about in a novel and the power of make-believe. In Baum?s novel, the entire story is real; the Emerald City, the witches, the talking animals, and miraculous lands are all existent; this world does indeed subsist outside of Kansas. In the movie version, however, viewers find at the very end of the film that all of her adventures were a dream. All of the people she met, places she visited, situations she encountered and feats she overcame were merely a part of dream world, giving viewers a false sense of hope and losing the imagination that the movie had originally given them. It seems as though the way Frank Baum had intended it was to bring children through an experience, to allow them to dream and think of possibilities outside of the everyday realties.
Some more subtle differences that can be noted between the original novel by Frank Baum and the movie adaptation are things that add up to concurrently change the story at large. Although movies are much shorter and must be compressed, and also have lack of visual effects (especially in the early 1900?s), certain things had to be removed to keep the story more simplistic and universally friendly. The most unbelievable chapters in the books that brought the characters through interesting new cities and meeting unique characters and animals, have mostly all been taken out for the movie, which is quite a shame. The most memorable locations which have been removed include the appearance of the Kalidahs, China Dolls, field mice, and Hammerheads. These are all very exceptional characters which make the book interesting to the child, and they have all disappeared within the movie. Another widely known fact about The Wizard of Oz film is Dorothy?s famous ruby red slippers. Originally, though, in the novel, they are merely silver.
An additional thing that people discover by reading Baum?s novel after watching the film is the background story of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow. The Tin Woodman loved a munchkin girl and her mother hated him, so she chopped him up until he eventually had to be remade without a heart, and did not love or want to marry the girl anymore. The scarecrow informed Dorothy of how the farmer painted on all of his features and senses so he came to be alive. These background stories are really interesting and should have been a part of the film, although adding in additional details such as these definitely would have made the film unbearably long, which is why they may have been omitted. There are far more details in the book, which make it an appealing read for children of either gender. Readers also see that the Emerald City is only a facade, and in the movie they are not informed so, giving readers the lesson that not everything is how it appears. Another fascinating note is that the winged monkeys, whom are in both Frank Baum?s novel and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, are indeed good-doers and are under a spell which forces them to do evil tasks, which people who watch simply the film are unaware of, and often have a fear of the wicked mischief makers.
- winged monkeys are good, different situations (ie. River scene in book)
- se of violence in book vs. movie (use Cinderella as an example, Disney pg rating it again) killing wicked witch of the west in book vs. bringing broom in movie
- Characters are ppl we know in movie, like that, gives connection, hints, etc. Also talk more in depth about characters and the differences and who doesn?t show up in the movie
The use of violence in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an interesting thing to note, since there are numerous occurrences of killing and mutilation.
The doves pecked out the eye from each [sister]. And so they were punished for their wickedness and malice with blindness for the rest of their lives.? (Brothers Grimm) By reading of such violence and disturbing ways of punishing one, it is to show of the consequences of one?s terrible actions and the ? of getting what one deserves.
- Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. New York: Signet Classics, 1900.
- Carroll, Lewis. Alice?s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Oxford World?s Classics, 1865.
- Fleming, Victor. The Wizard of Oz. Perf. Judy Garland. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1939.
- Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Cinderella. Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung, 1812.
- Halsall, Alison. Class Lecture. Come, Take this Book Dear Child: Children?s Literature 1590-1900. York University, Toronto, 2009.