The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, VII.—The Journey to the Great Oz

Tonight's Soundtrack: Codex Machine, "Everybody Runs"

 

The ever-present temptation, of course, is to compare what we're reading to the MGM movie: 

  • "Can't be a dream, because Dorothy sleeps several times along her journey, with dry leaves for a bed and blanket, even."
  • "Lion drying tears from his eyes with his tail? That's totally from the book. Denslow even drew a picture of it in the first edition."
  • "In all versions of Oz, it seems, the Tin Woodman is a watery-eyed diva who takes any opportunity to bang on his big empty chest and make everything about him."

And I know that billions of people are more familiar with that musical than this fairy tale, but to allow the movie to distort our discourse is to grant it a gravity it doesn't currently warrant. We're here, you and I, to discover what this beautiful package of words and art has to say on its own, as it appeared in 1900, a hand-crafted stab at the wonderful myth of America.

Speaking of movies, though, Chapter 7 here is what Peter Jackson would turn into the middle two hours of the first film in his Wonderful Wizard trilogy. The team is all together, and now everyone gets to use their skills in a series of action set pieces. The Woodman chops! The Lion leaps! The Scarecrow thinks! Dorothy eats! Plus, they kill some monsters.

They do, too. This is no "Whoops, Butterfingers dropped a house" incident. Kalidahs, we're told, are vicious threshing tiger-bears that can slice up the Lion faster than you can say, "Oh my!" Only quick, deliberate action that sends the fiends plummeting hundreds of feet to be dashed against sharp rocks can save our friends. Punch the air! Applause.

Even if we then have to frown and pause in our reading to turn back to the introduction where Baum has promised us "the heart-aches and nightmares are left out." Uh-huh.

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