Saturday, April 30, 2005

Movie of the Week, Return to Oz


"Fairuza had a look that resonated with Judy Garland's. Out of the blue she could snap into what her character would be feeling at any moment." -Director Walter Murch on Fairuza Bulk

This week's movie of the week is, Return to Oz.

Dorothy, back in Kansas, can't stop thinking about Oz, and even believes that her friends have sent her a key. Auntie Em, worried for Dorothy's health, takes her to a famous doctor who works miracles with electricity. When Dorothy escapes from the treatment, she and a chicken named Billina find themselves in Oz. But when Dorothy tries to find her old friends in the Emerald City, she learns that they've all been transformed by the Nome King. And the evil witch Mombie wants Dorothy's head. It's up to Dorothy, Billina, and their new friends, the clockwork Tik-Tok (aka the royal army of Oz), Jack Pumpkinhead, and a Gump-thing to defeat Mombie and the Nome King and restore the rightful ruler of Oz to her throne.

Watch the trailer here:

Fun Trivia:
A gymnast stood upside-down (with legs bent) inside Tik-Tok's body to move the legs.

The Movie is based on the second and thrid Oz books: "The Land of Oz" and "Ozma of  Oz". Elements from the former include the introduction of Jack Pumpkinhead, the witch Mombi and her powder of life, the conquest of the Emerald City, the escape by flying sofa, and the search for Princess Ozma. From the latter comes the return of Dorathy, the talking chicken Billina, the wheelers, the discovery of Tick-Tock, a princess with interchangable heads, the intoduction of the Nome King, and the ornament room.

In order to include the ruby slippers as part of this film, Disney had to pay royalties to MGM, the studio which had produced The Wizard of Oz (1939). The ruby slippers did not appear in the original novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"; they were invented for the 1939 film to better take advantage of the newly developed Technicolor process. Interestingly enough, in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Dorothy wore a pair of magical silver shoes which were actually destroyed when she used them to return to Kansas. In the subsequent novel "Ozma of Oz," one of the books on which this film is based, Dorothy and her friends meet the Nome King who possesses a magical belt with properties similar to those of the silver shoes. Early drafts of the script for Return to Oz reflect this, with the Nome King possessing a magical ruby belt which had been created from the ruby slippers.

Fun Quotes:
Jack Pumpkinhead: If his brain's ran down, how can he talk?
Dorothy: It happens to people all the time, Jack.

Billina: Some place for a chicken coop! How big is this pond anyway?
Dorothy: I don't think it's a pond, Billina. When did you learn to talk anyway? I thought hens could only cluck and cackle.
Billina: Strange, ain't it? How's my grammar?

Ozma: Why did they bring you here, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Because I can't sleep, and I talk about a place that I've been to, but nobody believes that it exists.

Tik-Tok: I have always valued my lifelessness.

My Return to Oz Wallpaper:

Four outta four. I actually like this Oz movie better than the 1939 Judy Garland version, much creepier and prettier to look at.


Julia said...

I've never seen this film and would love to, but it's not something that Blockbuster usually stocks! Of course it's worth seeing if just to see little Fairuza Balk in her pre-"Craft" days.

Allen Lulu said...

I was working at a video store in NY (pre-blockbuster was the hippest store in NY at the time) and the owners would pay for two movies a month so you could be up on what was hot and trendy. (The best times at this store was trying to convince James Osterberg that a)I did not know he was Iggy Pop and b) he should rent Repo Man and when I would tell people not to rent Buckaroo Banzai, but only do so when Ellen Barkin was in the store...good times)
When Return to Oz came out, it was premiered at Radio City Music Hall with a big stage show. Tix were $14 and they covered it so I went. I was blown away and forever incurred the wrath of anyone I suggested rent this movie.
But, I own it and my children will be forced to watch it.

Anonymous said...

You can get it from here:

Matty said...

I just re-watched this for the first time in about 20 years...And it's still scary as Hell!!!

Becca said...

I know Nicol Williamson always scares the crap out of me!

Gavin Elster said...

Ozma Baum penned a sequel called "Glasso the Chemical Man" It is the adventures of Dorothy in Oz and her adventures with a man made of glass whose primary function is to distribute drugs. I've read it and it is truly a subversive work.

Unknown said...

sparkylulu - that's awesome. When I was a kid my uncle brought me to see it at Radio City..I still have the program, what a great event that was!

Anonymous said...

I should check this out. Netflix members can add it to their queues:

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Cathal said...

Thanks so much for posting this. Really looking forward to seeing it. I hope it's still as creepy and weird as I remember it from my childhood.