I absolutely always try to read the book before I watch the movie, but I can’t be held responsible for movies that I watched as a child. Therefore, I place the blame squarely on my mother’s shoulders that it’s taken me 35 years to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Of course, I could have read it much sooner than this, but the damage was already done. I have almost every line uttered throughout the course of the movie committed to heart.
I always knew that I would eventually get around to reading it one day. Then a few weeks ago I was in Barnes & Noble (a rare treat since the closest bookstore to us is over an hour away!) and I noticed that they had a very nice edition of it just staring up at me from the classics table. I decided now was the time to go for it. I figured it would also make a nice addition to my Children’s Lit collection that one day (hopefully) my own daughter will have a field day with.
Now at this point, the movie is just as beloved as the book. So, I think it’s nearly impossible to say which is better. I think the real enjoyment of reading this book (after a lifetime of loving the movie) was identifying the differences…not with a critical-eye, but purely out of curiosity.
I won’t get too detailed about it, but there were some differences with the names of characters, the settings and strange creatures that never made it into the movie. As for that last one, I suppose it makes sense. These days technology and make-up/costume design can pretty much create whatever the story calls for, but back in 1939 I’m thinking they probably had to stick to the basics.
However, there were two things that disappointed me…
1) The Wizard never says “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!”. The actual scene is there, everything was lined up for this classic line to be written…but nope. That was a screenplay add-in and I was a little disappointed that L. Frankie didn’t think of it himself.
2) The Ruby Slippers were Silver.
Did you get that?
The RUBY Slippers…they were Silver.
At first, I was able to understand the words individually…”Silver”…”Shoes”. But together? In reference to the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet?! No, no, noooo. I felt betrayed!!! Lied to!!!! I know this is irrational, but it’s just wrong. Totally wrong. They HAVE to be ruby slippers!!!
But alas…they were not. I held out to the very end. At one point I actually convinced myself that maybe something happens later on in the book that turns the shoes a different and very specific color. Sadly, this never happened.
I am dreading Halloween this year. How will I be able to look at little girls dressed up like Dorothy…but wearing those damn red shoes?! I’ll be like the bringer of DOOM…stalking my way over to each one of them…pointing a judgemental finger at their feet and immediately launching into a “You knooooooooow…..” speech.
I’m moving on, because I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t enjoy the book…because I totally did! It’s a classic for a reason, a fun story that was extremely enjoyable. Although, I opted not to read it to my six-year-old…yet. There were some parts that I figured she could probably be a little bit older for (hello, how tinman was created!! chop-chop…) before we dived into it. So, instead we went down into the theater and watched the movie with her for the first time. She loved it!!! And now 30 years from now she can blame me for screwing up the order!!
Now obviously the timing of this is perfect. The release of Oz The Great and Powerful is right around the corner and I’m pretty exited to see that as well. In watching one of the trailers I noticed a scene with a ‘china girl’…she’s from the book. So, it appears that even though this will be a prequel of sorts, they’ll still be revisiting the original story and maybe bringing to life some of the things that would have been too difficult to include over 70 years ago.