Risky Regencies

Welcome to Oz

Last Sunday at our UU church, the theme was the spiritual journeys in The Wizard of Oz. Early in the service we reenacted the story, accompanied by a wild interpretation of the film’s music by Bobby McFerrin. All in about 8 minutes if you can imagine that! Wacky and fun.

There’s a lot any storyteller can learn from this story. It’s been used as an example in Debra Dixon’s workshops on Goal, Motivation and Conflict and analysed in terms of the Hero’s Journey.

Readers and/or viewers love it, for the fun but also the universal themes: misfits trying to find their place, the common insecurities of feeling one is not smart/kind/brave enough, coming of age, seeking something and being made to face our worst fears.

My family and I aren’t purists about our own Oz obsession–we like ruby slippers better than the silver shoes, for instance–but we’ve also read all the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and a bunch of the other Royal Historians of Oz. We’ve attended Oz events and in the past I’ve stayed up late to make a Princess Ozma of Oz costume for Halloween (not easily found at Target). 🙂 Besides the classic film, we also love “Return to Oz” with Fairuza Balk starring as Dorothy in a tale based on elements from The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz.

We love Oz not just for the characters but because it’s a world of its own, like Middle Earth, Star Trek or Regency England. Regency fans often love other shared worlds so now I’m wondering how many Oz fans we have out there. Unless you live with some remote tribe somewhere (with Internet access if you’re reading this!) you’ve seen the movie, but have you read any of the books? What do you think of the movie adaptations? Have you ever attended an Oz event or dressed up as an Oz character?

Which Oz character do you relate to most closely? I’ve always felt an affinity to the Cowardly Lion myself. 🙂

Which other shared worlds do you enjoy visiting and what makes you love them?

Elena, the rather large Munchkin in the purple hat
www.elenagreene.com

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Tracy Grant
15 years ago

Elena, I loved the Wizard of Oz books growing up. My mom scoured interlibrary loan systems trying to get all the books in the series. Ozma was my favorite characters (she was a princess/queen after all :-). I want an Ozma doll for Christmas when I was about six. My mom bought a dark-haired portrait doll and made the costume (white satin dress, green velvet cloak lined in white satin, jeweled tiara; I still have the doll and costume). I think one reason I love series is I like to settle in to the world of the books and characters. Whether it’s Regnecy England or Dorothy Dunnett’s sixteenth century Scotland and France and beyond or Barbara Hambly’s Darwath or Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover or Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain (another childhood favorite) or Westmark (which I read as an adult) or Joan Aiken’s alternate-history Regency-ish Britain (a third favorite growing up).

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

I’ve never read the Oz books! I played Dorothy, though; I love just how much of the real travels of life can be revealed through the W. of O. journey.

And I always identified with the Cowardly Lion, too. I’m still a wimp, but try to overcome it on important occasions.

Lois
15 years ago

THat’s so cute! 🙂 I never read the books. . . and it’s not even the movie I like 100%, but the music. LOL If it makes any sense, I watched the movie more for the songs and music, but once I got the soundtrack, I watched the movie less. LOL

Nope, never dressed in it or anything. . . but I do remember seeing a cartoon version of the story going back ages now, very pre-high school, but all I remember is seeing it, nothing about it other than it might have been more like the actual book. But alas, way too long ago now. . . 🙂

Question though. . . I always figured that since there was more than one story related to Oz, that she really did go there, not just a dream from getting conked on the head. . . ah, true???? 😉

Lois

Elena Greene
15 years ago

LOL, Tracy! My kids have an Ozma doll (Barbie with an emerald evening gown and some homemade accessories).

Megan, I thought you’d jump at the chance to be the witch and wear all that black. Did you know they originally planned for a slinky witch like the one in Snow White?
And now that I’m on the topic of clothing I am getting this image of Amanda in Glinda’s pink, sparkly getup. 🙂

Lois, you’re right. In the books Dorothy really does go to Oz. Some Oz fans don’t like that about the movie.

Pam Rosenthal
15 years ago

I haven’t read the Oz books, but I’d like to. And I’m charmed by your church and its whimsical way with spiritual journeys. (I once took an online quiz about what religion most fits your personality and learned that I’m a Unitarian in spirit).

As for Oz and romance — yes, there is a connection: 2 dear young friends of mine first met by mail when they were children, as president and secretary, I believe of some national Oz club. Many years later they were introduced, promptly to fall in love, eventually to make wonderful provocative performance art together as Right Brain Performance Lab, and to marry and have a lovely baby last year.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

“And now that I’m on the topic of clothing I am getting this image of Amanda in Glinda’s pink, sparkly getup. :)”

LOL, Elena! I never was Glinda, though her dress is FAB. I never could persuade my mother to sew anything with so much pink tulle. 🙂 I was Dorothy for Halloween a few years ago, complete with red sequined shoes I got at Target. I love that movie, and loved the books when I was a kid and found them on a dusty back shelf at the school library (I agree, BTW–ruby slippers beat silver shoes!)

Tracy, your doll sounds adorable! I would have stolen it from you on the playground back then. 🙂 I had some Little Women dolls, Barbies my mother made little crinoline dresses for.

Elena Greene
15 years ago

And I’m charmed by your church and its whimsical way with spiritual journeys.

We haven’t been members for long but I can’t imagine a better place for an interfaith couple whose kids play dreidel under the Christmas tree. No dogma, good music and conversation, guilt optional.

Amanda, if you visit you can try on the Glinda costume. After you ride in the Mini–my husband would freak if any glitter got onto “the mistress”. 🙂

janegeorge
15 years ago

Okay, I admit it. I’m the green one.
A condition that only worsened after reading Elphaba’s story in Wicked. A friend told me I even look like the actress cast in the Broadway musical version.

I just saw a video of John Waters doing a kind of stand-up routine. In it he says he was the only kid in the theater hoping Dorothy stayed in Oz. Why would she want to go back to black and white Kansas when she could live in Oz with the Munchkins and a gay lion? LOL

Todd
15 years ago

Love the Oz books (though I haven’t read all the many “non-canonical” extensions). Sometimes I feel like Button Bright, but I think I’m more like Tik-Tok; except, where he has to be wound up periodically, I require periodic infusions of caffeine. The principle is the same, though.

Todd-who-may-be-running-down-at-the-moment

Elena Greene
15 years ago

LOL on that John Waters story, Jane. I felt a little torn by the ending too. In the books Dorothy eventually takes Aunt Em and Uncle Henry away from it all to live in Oz.

Todd, I love Tik-Tok and how his thought, speech and action had to be wound up separately. Lots of fun in the scene in “Return to Oz” where his thought winds down but speech and action continue. That happens to me sometimes too. 🙂

Cara King
15 years ago

I started reading the Oz books when I was six, and never really stopped. I finally managed to read all Baum’s 14 by the time I was nine or so (Rinkitink was the hardest to find in the library) and also read a few non-Baum Oz books…and non-Oz Baum books. Definitely loved them!

My favorites then were Ozma of Oz, Dorothy & the Wizard, Emerald City, Princess of Oz, and Glinda of Oz. Now, my fave is probably solidly Ozma of Oz (also the first one I read! Because I didn’t want to read the first originally, having seen the movie…and the second was about a *boy*…so I started with the third…)

BTW, I liked the Fairuza Balk movie too! Hated the frame story, loved the rest…

Cara

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