L. Frank Baum would hate new Oz movie

A new post on film.com Why ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women is so great about what a bummer this movie is. Please read the whole thing.

A couple of important quotes:

Baum was a feminist. He was an avid supporter of women’s suffrage, and was happily married to the outspoken, intelligent, and energetic  Maud Gage

And this:

But even more troubling and disappointing about Sam Raimi’s 3D spectacle “Oz The Great and Powerful” is what character it chooses to crown as its hero: The Wizard.

Why is this sad and troubling? Well, as you go through the Oz series, one fact can’t help but jump out at you:  The feisty, heroic characters of Oz are all young women. Dorothy returns, again and again, to have adventures in Oz. “Tik-Tok of Oz” features a Dorothy surrogate in Betsy Bobbin (no Toto for Betsy! Her animal companion is a mule named Hank.)  Glinda often reappears to do battle.  General Jinjur leads an all-female coup against the Scarecrow, and despite its failure, Baum lovingly stops in to see how she’s faring in the common Munchkin life.

But most intriguing and revolutionary of them all is Princess Ozma, who actually makes her first appearance in “The Marvelous Land of Oz” as a young boy named Tip. Tip is the “hero” of the book until it’s revealed an evil witch named Mombi did a magical gender reassignment, and Tip becomes Ozma, restored not only to her rightful throne, but to her own feminine self. It’s a strange and fascinating twist for both Tip and the audience alike, and one with very modern implications.



Film.com explains it this way:

No doubt the focus group responsible for “Great and Powerful” convinced themselves that female protagonists weren’t marketable…


Hollywood, we want strong, complex female protagonists. DO YOU HEAR? This is bullshit. Teens, little kids, parents, we are all sick of this sexist crap.


9 thoughts on “L. Frank Baum would hate new Oz movie

  1. Finally watched the movie on Netflix. Thanks for the biblio perspective on the series. The movie disappoints on many levels, not least of which the cheesy CGI effects. Disney megaminds more concerned with aftermarket product sales.

    Why doesn’t someone make the musical “Wicked”?

  2. Woah. Another one of those movies I won’t watch. I was actually looking forward to see Dorothy, not the wizard. Unfortunately I didn’t read any of the Oz books but that Dorothy is the heroine was clear to me from the very beginning.

  3. cat on January 25, 2013 at 6:42 pm said:

    5. When I heard about Oz, I was interested. But the trailer put me off. The visuals seem hit or miss. I’m not really sure about the casting choices. But I was especially confused by the focus on James Franco. This better not be another movie with strong, powerful female characters who are waiting for a man to save them.

    Saving the full article you linked to for when I have more time as I already know it’s going to upset me.

  4. I’ve never read the series so I can’t comment from experience. I love your take & now want to learn more. Guess Ill pick up another Oz tale.

    Do you think Frank L. Baum’s characters informed the “Wickdd” series? His characters were very strong females in charge or with the power to exert influence.

    • Wicked is definitely based more on Baum’s stories than on the movie, although there are elements from the film, (the witch was not green in the book for example). One big thrill for Oz fans going to the musical is the curtain design: a glorious map of Oz taken directly from the one which first appeared in the 5th Oz book, “The Road to Oz”.

      And of course, most importantly, Wicked is true to
      Baum in focusing on the strength and stories of women!

      • I remember reading and loving Wicked when I was in high school. I haven’t gone back to revisit it but from what I remember, it was a bit crazy. Son of a Witch felt like much weaker writing and so I never ended up reading the rest of his series.

        The musical version of Wicked is very different from the book. I was a little shocked when I saw it. I like the music from the show but I don’t think it’s really a great representation of anything but the core female friendship which is reasonably realistic for the amount of time they have to develop it. It is of course another case of women as rivals for the same man. While they do have their own goals, they also spend an awful lot of their time thinking and talking and singing about Fiyero.

        • I’ve read 3 of the 4 books from the Wicked series, and thought Son of a Witch was the weakest one I read. I skipped the third book in favour of reading the 4th book – which I quite liked as well. The protagonist is Rain, the daughter of Liir and Candle. Tip/Ozma is in the book too.

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