So, I had the chance to attend a showing of Oz the Great and Powerful yesterday. I had been eagerly awaiting it for months, just like every other Oz fan on Earth!
I'm pleased to report that I found the movie very engaging, very entertaining and very much worth the wait!
Since I don't do spoilers, I'll just talk about my feelings regarding certain aspects of the movie.
To begin with, "it's always best to start at the beginning." Hmmm, I wonder where I've heard that quote before?
The opening credits were very nice and gave a very antique feel to the film. The opening scenes were in box-format and black & white, which was a nice tribute to the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz. The one thing that I'm certain would bother my son Halley was the appearance of an Evil-looking clown that, along with a jilted circus strongman, chases Oscar Diggs and forces him to escape by balloon. Halley has a mortal terror of clowns, though I know not why.
Once airborne, the balloon ends up in a tornado and on to Oz, which was another nice tribute and also follows L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) very closely. As one who teaches Weather & Climate at a rural Illinois community college, I was pleased to see the tornado rotating counter-clockwise, as it should be here in the Northern Hemisphere. The Corriolis Force rules!!!
The Land of Oz turned out to be a beautiful, vibrantly-colored landscape that took my breath away. All three witches were beautiful, Evil and Good and played their roles well. I had no issues with the new Wicked Witch of the West. She may have been ugly in the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz movie, but when she first becomes green and heartless, she's also gorgeous! I guess Time makes ugly fools out of us all...
I found tributes to the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz movie popping up all over the place, which made me a very happy Royal Liaison of Oz!
The music was wonderful, though I've heard others carping on about it. I don't see, or hear, what they're talking about. I found the musical score to be very appropriate.
Finley, the flying monkey bell-hop and China Girl were stunning and perfect companions for Oscar Diggs as he journies towards his destiny. The flying baboons that were commanded by both Evil Wicked Witches were amazing! Far more terrifiying than the one's that captured Dorothy.
I did see a cowardly lion and some scarecrows, but no Tin Woodman, which never really bothered me. Their absence was never a concern as this story takes place before the Scarecrow was constructed, the Tin Woodman fell prey to the enchanted axe and the Cowardly Lion became cowardly, although that may have been him which Oz (Oscar Diggs) scared away in the Dark Forest. Who knows?
I was also pleased to see, and hear, Oscar Diggs recite his entire name (Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs). Few people actually know what his full name was, though if you abbreviate it, out comes out as O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.. Now there's a name! No wonder he shortened it to Oz.
I loved the technology employed by Oscar Diggs and the Tinkers whom he meets during the movie. Since I have a B.S. in Physics, specializing in Optics, I fell in love with the optical illusions employed by the Wizard of Oz.
There was also a scene near the end where Oscar Diggs is packing up an old satchel of his and I recognized a number of magical effects, most of which I own as well. There were a nice set of Linking Rings, which I used to perform in my youth. Makes me wanna take them out and begin anew practicing my magical arts!
Of course, one of the few differences between myself and virtually every other Wizard of Oz fan is that I am a true magician. My father and I were charter members of I.B.M. Ring 210; Duke Stern chapter; Ann Arbor, Michigan and I have kept the faith for 43 years now. In case you're wondering and haven't read the previous blog posting, I.B.M. stand for the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
At my fathers' funeral in 1992, I performed the Broken Wand Ceremony, as is required by all magicians. I expect my eldest child to do the same for me when I cross the Shifting Sands and join Dad and O.Z. Diggs on stage in Oz.
But for now, Oz the Great and Powerful gives us a new vision of a very special world few of us have ever visited, and magic gains a whole new audience.
I hope that both the International Brotherhood of Magicians (I.B.M.), as well as the Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.) see a resurgence of new members.
James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz