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.