Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who Would Have Thought This Subject Would Come Up Twice In My Lifetime?

A couple of weeks ago, J.L. Bell did a post at Oz and Ends called Parable? No, Just Full of It about someone back in the 60s who interpreted the Wizard of Oz as a Parable on Populism.

Therefore, I couldn't help but notice yesterday when NPR did a piece on the very same subject. I didn't catch the whole thing because I a shower stall...but the NPR site has links to both the original Parable on Populism essay and to Money and Politics in the Land of Oz by Quentin P. Taylor, who was interviewed for the Morning Edition segment I was listening to while mindfully scrubbing tile.

Should I ever find the time to read those essays, I may actually finally understand late nineteenth century populism, the subject of my final exam essay for eleventh grade history.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So What Did We Think Of Tin Man?

I haven't noticed a great groundswell of interest for Tin Man in the portion of the kidlitosphere in which I travel, even though it is a variation on the kid classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The mini-series ran on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings on the Sci Fi Channel. Fuse did wonder what I thought of it, though, and, hey, I never have to be asked that kind of thing twice.

I definitely enjoyed picking up the references to and riffs on the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, which is the only Oz, I know. I liked how they entwined this new story around the old one.

I thought the main character, DG, was a little polarized. She appeared to be feisty, riding a motorcycle and picking up a stick to head into any fight she encountered. But she also looked totally stunned by what she was experiencing, pretty much all the time. I didn't think the two aspects of the character came together very well.

I really liked the neo-scarecrow. He was both a play on the movie scarecrow and very new. The lion was okay, but I didn't realize he was supposed to be cowardly until late in the plot. I found the tin man to be a problem. We definitely got more of a back story on him than on the scarecrow or the lion, but I didn't find him so pivotal to the story that it justified naming the program for him. Plus, his character was pretty much a stereotypical tortured, maybe noir, lawman. I think that could have been neat in Oz, but it didn't really work for me.

One thing that interested me a great deal about Tin Man is how similar the initial portion of the plot is to that of The Looking Glass Wars, which is also a variation on a classic, Alice in Wonderland. In both stories, you have an evil sister who overthrows the legitimate royal ruler of a kingdom. In both stories you have a young female royal family member who is hidden away in the real world for her own safety. She isn't aware of who she really is. (DG really doesn't know. Alyss has become so isolated from her own reality that she finally accepts the one she finds here.) Both young women have to go back to their fantasy worlds to save their kingdoms.

I don't know what that's about. Perhaps evil sisters and princesses in disguise are staples of fantasy and everyone uses them.

So there you have it, my response to Tin Man. In a nutshell, I'd say it was interesting, worth watching if you're at all interested in Oz, but with weak spots.

Speaking of The Looking Glass Wars, today bookshelves of doom reviews Seeing Redd, the second book in The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy. It was published in August. The first book got lots of buzz, but I'd heard nothing about the second one until I read Leila's review today.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Reminder For Oz Fans

Tin Man starts tonight on the Sci Fi Channel. I love revisionist spins on classics.


Friday, February 23, 2007

"I Just Like To Think About What I'm Reading. Don't You?"

The line above is from Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I finally took the book off my TBR shelf earlier this week and am about halfway through it. It's a book for people who like to think about what they're reading.

Wicked's subtitle is "The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West." It is most definitely an adult spin and variation on The Wizard of Oz. And not just because there are sex scenes.

Wicked deals with the nature of good and evil, the nature of the soul. Just for a couple of things. The book has its own theology, created for the land of Oz, but with winks to our contemporary world. A pleasure faith? And of early adherents to a more austere religion, Elphaba (the wicked witch) says, "Some said the original evil was the vacuum caused by the Fairy Queen Lurline leaving us alone here. When goodness removes itself, the space it occupies corrodes and becomes evil, and maybe splits apart and multiplies. So every evil thing is a sign of the absence of deity."

I mention that because I've read a Christian description of sin as being the absence of God, a concept, I must admit, that pretty much shoots over my head. But it did seem similar to what Elphaba had been reading.

Our wicked witch, by the way, is the daughter of a minister. How cool is that? She also, at mid-point, is a revolutionary. Maguire's Oz isn't all sunshine and lollipops.

My only knowledge of The Wizard of Oz is the movie, so I don't know how much this book refers to the original series of Oz books. As far as I'm concerned, I don't need to know the references. Wicked is a complex, well-done world without my knowing much of the background at all.

It also has a map.

And don't think it's all dry theology and politics.

"I don't read very well. So I don't think I think very well either." Galinda smiled. "I dress to kill, though."

I do love this kind of revisionist literature.

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