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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last week I quoted a Salon article collecting thoughts by a bunch of writers about their favorite and least favorite adaptations of children’s books. Several had interesting (and varied) things to say about the most famous Oz movies.

Gregory Maguire, author lately of Out of Oz:
I would insist that the 1939 film of “The Wizard of Oz” is better constructed than the 1900 novel on which it is based, and that “Return to Oz” is an overlooked masterpiece much better than the several Baum novels upon which it is based.
(More to come on the contrast between Baum’s and Maguire’s approaches to Oz. I need to get my notes together.)

Jane Yolen, author of so much:
I think the Judy Garland “Wizard of Oz” is better than the book, which, while wildly inventive, has such flat affect and overly simplistic prose that it makes my teeth ache.
(More of Yolen’s thoughts on the book, and my response to that assessment, back here.)

Daniel Nayeri, editor and author:
I don’t think “The Wizard of Oz” can rightly be called a “good” adaptation. It might be a good movie, but it didn’t do the world of Oz any favors (aside from keeping it in print for so long).
While the MGM Wizard of Oz does a lot of things right, it also gets a lot about Oz wrong. The need to add a valuable lesson about life to the story—“She had to learn it for herself”—both brings absolute jibberjabber out of Judy Garland’s mouth and turns her whole trip to Oz into a punishment. I think that’s even more off the mark than making Dorothy a wimp and making Oz a dream.

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