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Friday, March 8, 2013

There Is Still No Place Like Home

Written by Kyle Slagley

In a small town in Pennsylvania, nestled in the hills, is a cave, and in this cave are vaults. Vaults owned by some of the biggest organizations and companies in Western society. The security is extremely tight, the technology in this cave amazing, and the sheer size wondrous. One of these vaults contains the original filmstrip for one of the most beloved movies of all time—a movie about a young girl and her dog, from Kansas, who go on an extraordinary adventure.

By now you of course realize that I’m referring to The Wizard of Oz, which is big news these days thanks to the prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco, which opens in theaters today.

The Wizard of Oz holds great memories for generations of people, but there are a few things most people do not know about this particular treasure. By the time Judy Garland graced the silver screen as Dorothy in 1939, there had been three film adaptations produced already as well as a stage musical written by the author Frank Baum himself.

Of course the ’39 film with Garland is the one we all remember and has been named the most-watched film of all time by the Library of Congress. Although MGM has ceased distribution of the film to any and all sellers for the time being, there are a few titles we have that might help supplement your Oz display.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (audiobook) – the classic by L. Frank Baum is now in the public domain, so there are a plethora of versions from which to choose. I read this book probably half a dozen times when I was a kid and the first time I was surprised at the differences between the book and the film. Audiobook versions to choose from include: Dreamscape, Tantor, BBC Radio, Blackstone, Naxos, Random House, and Yo Yo Libros.

The Wizard of Oz in music – As I mentioned before, Dorothy and Toto first appeared in front of large audiences as a stage musical in 1902. Fortunately, the music of the original musical has been preserved and was nominated for a 2004 Grammy for Best Historical Album. In 2011, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s New Wizard of Oz came out in London’s West End and ran for just over a year. For the younger kids, A Tribute to The Wizard of Oz is a collection of kids’ songs from and inspired by the movie and book.

And finally, submitted for your approval is a collection of animated adaptations, the first of which is The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Who doesn’t love the Muppets?! Best of all, Ashanti and Queen Latifah star as Dorothy and Auntie Em, with Jeffrey Tambor as the wizard. Next in line is Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz, and finally an animated version from Lightyear Entertainment.

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