Awhile back I went to see “OZ: The Great and Powerful” by Disney. I was reluctant to see it because I am very loyal to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and his interpretation of Oz, with the wizard being the real villain. I wasn’t quite for sure how I’d take a retelling casting the wizard as the hero. Fortunately, my mind was able to divorce the two tellings quite nicely and I was able to enjoy the movie without hating the wizard the whole time. I very much enjoyed the film, especially the lovely backgrounds and scenic detail. Oz was beautiful. And the credits at the beginning were fanciful and done in a vaudeville style, which was perfect for an itinerant magician in Kansas destined to become the wizard in Oz.
After being transformed by Wicked I was especially interested to see how the film would play off the themes off good and evil in their characters as they explored the early days of the wizard’s arrival in Oz. Theodora (an interesting derivation of Dorothy) was the sweet, innocent princess beguiled into thinking Oscar (the wizard) cared for her. She was devastated when her sister (Witch of the East) also deceived her into believing her Oscar’s attentions were false. Hurt and betrayed, Theodora asks her sister to make the pain stop, and sister gives her a potion that transforms her into the Wicked Witch of the West, mortal enemy of the wizard. This was a subtle twist, but it was Theodora’s desire not to feel any emotion that characterizes her “wickedness.” Her inability to feel or to empathize with others alienates her, shrinks her soul, and hardens her conscience. I think this was an incredibly astute observation on the nature of evil as, at its source, a condition of selfishness and lack of compassion.
The wizard is plagued with his own demons of selfishness, greed, and ambition. Throughout the film, he is conflicted between two paths of being good or being great. If he sees others at all, it is only in the context of what they can do for him. As his friendship with Glinda and his companions grows deeper, you’re still not sure how he will respond as the great confrontation in Oz grows near. In the end however, he realizes he is ready to sacrifice his agenda for life for the good and security of this country, and for the love of Glinda and his friends. At the beginning of the film, Oscar expresses his wish to be great, not merely good. At the end of the film, Glinda tells him he has achieved all she ever wanted for him. “Greatness?” he asks. “Goodness”, she responds. Actually, he was both.
Here are some ATCs (artist trading cards, 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) that I was inspired to create from the fantastic scenes and emotions created by the film. Stamps are by Artful Illusions, Inkadinkado, and Crafty Individuals. Everything was colored with Tim Holtz Distress Inks and pencils.
Blessings to you,