With only days to go until the premier of Disney's newest movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, the excitement is ramping up exponentially.
Of course, one of the many similarities between this film, the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film and L. Frank Baum's original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) is the use of balloons as a means of reaching Oz.
In the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film, we see the balloon only at the end when the Wizard inadvertently goes airborne and is unable to control the balloon, thus ensuring that Dorothy must fine another way home to Kansas.
In the new Disney film, Oz the Great and Powerful, the balloon is used to transport the Wizard into Oz in what appears to be a very dramatic fashion.
And in the original book by L. Frank Baum entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), in order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, the Wizard realizes that he
will have to take them home with him in a new balloon, which he and
Dorothy fashion from green silk. Revealing himself to the people of the
Emerald City one last time, the Wizard appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue
of his brains, to rule in his stead. Dorothy chases Toto after he runs
after a kitten in the crowd, and before she can make it back to the
balloon, the ropes break, leaving the Wizard to rise and float away
Of course, in later books, the Wizard returns to Oz where is he welcomed by Princess Ozma and allowed to live in Oz forever, serving as Her Royal Magician, although by Royal Decree, only Glinda: Good Witch of the South, Dorothy, now a full-fledged Princess, the Wizard (O.Z. Diggs) and Princess Ozma are permitted to perform magic in Oz.
Now, in my second book, Shadow Demon of Oz (2010), Capn' Bill, a crusty old retired sailor finds himself transporting young Jamie Diggs, the new Royal Magician of Oz and his best friend Buddy, back to Oz to take his rightful place beside Princess Ozma and battle an ancient Evil from the heavens above by means of a passing comet, and save the citizens of Mount Hyup, the highest mountain in Oz, which also happens to tower over Munchkin Country and Munchkin City in particular.
Capn' Bill accomplishes this feat of transport by means of a very special balloon which he launches from the Bridgeton Covered Bridge Festival here in Bridgeton, Indiana.
It would seem that balloon travel is a very popular means of getting to and from Oz. Given the effects of the deadly sands surrounding Oz, it's no wonder a balloon works so well, although in Shadow Demon of Oz, the journey across the Shifting Sands (which border the eastern edge of Oz and Munchkin Country) is quite a hot one indeed!
Here's hoping the Wizard's journey into Oz on Friday is not as difficult... or as hot!
James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz