Oz The Great and Powerful Press Conference

Oz The Great and Poweful Press ConferenceDirector Sam Raimi and the cast of Oz The Great and Powerful gathered in London last week to promote the film. I went along to see what they had to say (and to eat a few biscuits)…

James Franco spoke about his connection to the world of Oz. He explained; “I’ve been a fan of the world of Oz since I was a boy, I read all the L. Frank Baum books when I kid, and so I was excited because of that. That I would be able to step in that world of my childhood imagination. Speaking about Sam Raimi’s vision, he said; “I saw that they were going to be loyal and respectful of everything we lovers of Oz expect. There will be familiar things in the land of Oz that you need for it to be the land of Oz.”

Sam Raimi admitted he was very frightened to approach the project. He remarked; “There is so much love for the original Wizard of Oz picture and people don’t want their warm feelings towards this classic sullied. They don’t want someone stepping on the fondest memories of their childhood”. However when Sam read the script for Oz The Great and Powerful he admitted that “he fell in love with the story”.

Zach Braff joked about wearing a blue onesie for his role as Finley. He said; “You think that when you make a movie for six months, when you walk on set in a blue onesie your cast members would eventually stop laughing at you. But they didn’t”. Mila Kunis commented on the importance of the costumes for this film. She explained; “It was the first time in my life that a costume 100% helped me realise the character”. Rachel Wiesz echoed the sentiment, stating; “My character would have been nothing without the sequins, the feathers, the lashes, the corsets, the boots, the nails!”.

Oz The Great and Powerful is released in cinemas on Friday 8th March 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Film Review: The Wizard of Oz (1925)

The Wizard of Oz (1925)The Wizard of Oz (1925) is a vehicle for the physical comedy of director and star Larry Semon rather than a faithful retelling of any of the Oz tales.

A toymaker tells the story of how Dorothy, the rightful ruler of Oz, was sent to Kansas as a baby. Oz is under the rule of Prime Minister Kruel, who is determined to stop Dorothy from taking her place on the throne…

Made fourteen years before Victor Fleming’s film, The Wizard of Oz appears a stark contrast to its successor. Much of the plot has been altered, with much less focus on Dorothy’s quest. Semon’s The Wizard of Oz is more of a comedy than a fantasy, with many of the magical elements of Oz being toned down.

The main reason that this 1925 film is not as memorable or cherished as the 1939 movie is undoubtedly because of where the emphasis lies. The focus is on Semon’s farmhand character rather the Dorothy. She becomes a secondary player in this adaptation. The film is more concerned with the farmhand getting himself out of scrapes.

Moreover, Kansas dominates as the prime location, instead of Oz. Semon’s film misses the magic of the land; an element so intrinsic to later versions. Even the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are not actual characters but the farm workers purposefully dressing up. Downplaying the fantasy elements of the books is a significant misstep.

Performances are fine,with Larry Semon, Oliver Hardy and G. Howe Black making the most of their athleticism. There are some good stunts in the film, particularly given the era in which it was produced.

Overall, The Wizard of Oz is not a bad film in its own right. However, it is not a memorable version of Baum’s tale.

The Wizard of Oz (1925) was screened with animated short The Wizard of Oz (1933) as part of the BFI’s ‘Returning to Oz’ season Piano accompaniment was provided by Stephen Horne.

Film Review: The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of OzThe Patchwork Girl of Oz is an eye-opening experience for viewers unfamiliar with it. A quirky and amusing silent film.

Ojo and his father decide to travel to Oz in order to escape poverty. On their way, they come across a magician who is attempting to bring a patchwork doll to life. When the experiment has an unexpected outcome, the group must work together to rectify things…

Directed by J. Farrell McDonald, The Patchwork Girl of Oz is based on L. Frank Baum’s book of the same name. The plot focuses on lesser known Oz characters, but retains the same narrative style as Baum’s most famous work. The quest aspect of fantasy adventure reigns supreme, with Ojo and pals being plagued with various obstacles on their journey.

The one thing that lets The Patchwork Girl of Oz down is that the characters are not quite as endearing as they should be. Unlike The Wizard of Oz, the protagonist does not capture the hearts of viewers. The film’s running time is fairly short (81 minutes), and there a number of characters vying for attention.

Scraps, the patchwork doll come to life, is a surreal character. Played by Pierre Couderc, there is no mistaking that the doll is a man, despite the title. The image of the doll is quite unusual; viewers may feel they have been slipped something mild-altering. Couderc physicality is impressive, even if the appearance is bizarre.

The film exhibits a good use of trick photography, especially considering it was made in 1914. The Patchwork Girl of Oz amuses in its peculiarities. Not a patch on later Oz films, McDonald’s film is worth watching for its surreality alone.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz was screened with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) as part of the BFI’s ‘Returning to Oz’ season. Piano accompaniment was provided by Costas Fotopoulos.

We’re Off To See The Wizard

The Wizard of OzOz fever has hit I Heart The Talkies this week! Seriously, I can’t get enough of all things The Wizard of Oz-related. Luckily Disney and the British Film Institute are on hand to sate my appetite. Oz The Great and Powerful, a prequel of sorts, hits cinemas on Friday 8th March 2013. The British Film Institute meanwhile are wowing with their ‘Returning to Oz’ season that runs from 1st-14th March. As well as screenings of the 1939 fantasy classic, lesser-known Oz films are being screened…

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

I am really looking forward to seeing the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz. Directed by and starring Larry Semon, the film also features a young Oliver Hardy. Apparently it is quite different to the book and subsequent films, so it will be interesting to see how this version plays out.

The Wiz

Michael Jackson stars as the Scarecrow in this 1978 Motown adaption. Diana Ross is a little too old to be playing Dorothy, but otherwise an interesting transportation of Oz to New York City. My good friend once played the Michael Jackson role in a stage adaptation of The Wiz; he was fantastic.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz

You would be forgiven for thinking you had been slipped LSD whilst watching The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Based on L. Frank Baum’s book of the same name, the story concentrates on less familiar characters. It is weird and wonderful.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

This 1910 short was the first movie adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. The film attempts to fit the entire story into less than 13 minutes. Suffice to say, it is short but sweet. Also, it features an amazing Toto transformation. That is all you need to know.

The ‘Returning to Oz’ season is running at the BFI Southbank from 1st-14th March 2013.

Trailer Round-Up

This week, we have new trailers for Oz The Great Powerful, Dredd and Hope Springs, as well as a clip from The Expendables 2 and the latest TV spot from The Dark Knight Rises.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Despite not being a hit on its initial release, The Wizard of Oz has gone on to become one of the best-loved fantasy films, and an influence on countless others. Given the success of the musical Wicked, it is unsurprising that a new film based on L. Frank Baum’s stories has been made. Oz The Great and Powerful concentrates on the young wizard, played by James Franco. The film, which also stars Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, is due for release in March 2013.


This is an interesting teaser. Based on the comic book character, Dredd seems to be playing up the stylistic violence with its slow-motion close ups. Starring Karl Urban, Dredd will inevitably be compared to Judge Dredd, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone starrer. Dredd is out in cinemas on 7th September 2012.

Hope Springs

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star in Hope Springs, a comedy drama about getting the magic back in a long-term marriage. The thing that strikes me first about the trailer is how Meryl Streep seems to be able to transform herself so easily. Streep looks every inch the dowdy housewife, a strong departure from her glamorous public persona. Also starring Steve Carell, Hope Springs is out on 14th September 2012.

The Expendables 2

Here’s a very short clip from The Expendables 2. I really hope this is indicative of the entire film, with its cheesy dialogue, its ambiguous ‘other’ antagonists, and a high body count. I also hope that Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger feature heavily, even though the latter two are more likely to appear in a cameo capacity. The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on 16th August 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises

A week to go until The Dark Knight Rises is released and I cannot wait. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. With the plethora of clips and spots that have been released in the last few weeks to promote the film, I have tried to avoid watching all of them, lest too much be revealed. If you just can’t get enough TDKR watch them all here. The Dark Knight Rises is out on 20th July 2012.