Oz: The Great and Powerful — You’ve Got The Wrong Guy
5:45 pm, March 8th | by Meredith Lepore
In case your town or city isn’t plastered with posters of the new film Oz: The Great and Powerful, I will be the one to let you know that this Wizard of Oz prequel comes out today. I am thrilled they have decided to explore this classic tale once again but I can’t help but feel like they are focusing on the wrong person in this film. Clearly the women have always been the more fascinating part of Oz.
From Jezebel writer Elizabeth Rappe:
“No doubt the focus group responsible for “Great and Powerful” convinced themselves that female protagonists weren’t marketable (odd coming from the studio of Disney Princesses), and that a pouty, doubting hero would draw in a wider range of moviegoers. It was probably believed no one would ever see an Oz film unless it directly tied into the version they already knew and loved, and that trying to draw on original Oz tales would be too confusing and difficult. Audiences can follow along with Marvel and Tolkien, but the origin of Ozma would undoubtedly be too complicated. Why bring in Betsy and her mule, when we can have a Hollywood hunk on the poster, and witchy cleavage at the denouement?”
James Franco is cute and all (though he is not getting the best reviews) but Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and especially Mila Kunis (the witches of the film) have all proved they have box office power.
Rappe argued that women were always the most prominent part of Baum’s 17 books on various women’s adventures in Oz. Look at Dorothy and her journey and power of the witches. The original Wizard of Oz really showed a young girl’s journey on the cusp of womanhood learning she has the strength to overcome any obstacle and get anywhere in life, even just back home again. Plus, we got to see very powerful women in those witch figures who displayed their strengths in very different ways; blatant violence and pacifism.
The witches are clearly a prominent part of the film so why not give the title credit like “PD: The Witches of Oz.” PD meaning Pre-Dorothy. Or “The Most Powerful Witches Ever” or “These gals make those hags in Hocus Pocus look like total dorks.”
Clearly I am not alone. David Edelstein of NPR wrote in his review:
“There are three reasons to see the picture — the trio of witches played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Well, Kunis might be out of her depth in a role that requires her to go from impossibly naive to mythically vindictive. But Weisz’s Evanora and Williams’ Glinda are deliciously stylized. They share the best scene, in which Evanora gets a palpable charge out of torturing the beatific little good witch Glinda before the citizens of Oz. It’s the first time the actors look like they’re enjoying themselves — maybe because there’s no sign of Oz the Small and Wimpy.”