Takeaway: Books are never the same as the movie.
It has been a long time since I have sat down and watched the entire Wizard of Oz movie. My 3 and 4 year old nieces have been watching it lately.(I thought it was way to scary for them, but they seem to like it). So I have seen short segments of it recently, but not the whole thing.
I have also had my memory of the movie tainted by reading and watching the Wicked the musical (slightly different from one another).
A week or so ago, Audible.com gave away the unabridged audiobook for The Wizard of Oz (read by Anne Hathaway). I was surprised that the unabridged version was barely over 3 hours.
The movie is clearly an adaptation. A mean old woman does not try to take Toto away. Glenda the good witch is not young and beautiful, but old and shrunken. I also was surprised that when Dorthy throws the water on the witch and she dies there was still well over an hour left in the book.
It is clearly a young adult book. There are some scary parts but I think the movie was probably scarier than the book itself.
One thing I thought was odd was the original introduction to the book talked about the fact that old traditional fairy tales were concerned primarily with teaching lessons and morals. And that Baum was trying to intentionally write a children’s fairy tale that was ‘modern’ and without a moral.
But the book was full of ‘character education’ points. All of the side kicks needs (heart, brains, courage) were primarily about character. And the characters do the right thing and get rewarded for it in the story. So I don’t know if Baum was serious in the intro and just did not see his own writing as being about morals or if he was being ironic in some way.
It is always interesting to my why movies so often change little details that do not really matter. The shoes are silver in the book, ruby red in the movie. The good witch that helps Dorthy get home is a different one from Glenda that helps her at the beginning.
I did like Anne Hathaway’s narration. It was not a straight reading. She gave a real modern voice to the reading. Several points I could tell that the words may have been the same, but Hathaway played the words ironically or for a laugh in a way that would not have made sense to the original readers. I would recommend it, especially if you can find the book for free again in the future.
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (bookwi.se)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (bookwi.se)
- The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (bookwi.se)