Everyone and their dog has seen the great Hollywood classic, Wizard of Oz. I would argue that if you haven't, then you are seriously out of the pop culture loop. Judy Garland, her gingham dress and stirring 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' are iconic.
As a little girl I would watch it over and over again, revelling in the musical numbers. I would laugh at the Scarecrow and his bumbling dance, itch to plait the Lion's hair and fall a little in love with the effeminate Tin Man. I also discovered Winged Monkeys as the definition of freaky coolness!
There is a point to this post and I am getting to it...I viewed Return to Oz with my class the other day. It was an interesting experience as none of them had seen it before and yet they were very familiar with the original tale. The first question after I whipped it out was whether there was going to be musical numbers. My "no" was greeted with simultaneous male sighs of relief (and yet they love the barn raising dancing scene in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - go figure). Despite the dated special effects (if they can be called that) and a mumbled storyline, they were enjoying it....no matter what they say. Though they found it to be a complete shambles on the original and wondered why the 1930s SFX of the original were better than the 1980s sequel. I can't wait to read their film reviews!
Judy Garland was seventeen when Wizard of Oz was made in 1939, yet Dorothy Gale was meant to be much younger. Fairuza Balk (who I loved in the camp The Craft) was eleven when Return to Oz was filmed in 1985. Having seen both movies and the sci-fi recreation, Tin Man, I couldn't help but think what Wizard of Oz would be like if written as a YA novel.
Some ideas for Oz High (as I have chosen to badly name it):
· The Cowardly Lion would probably be struggling with his sexuality giving everyone else the appearance that he's a "ladies man".
· The Scarecrow would be a closet brainiac who pretends to be a dumbass...with some spatial awareness issues on the side.
· The Tin Man would be struggling with juvenile arthritis and the ability to "speak" to plants.
· Dorothy Gale would be a wide-eyed country girl starting a new school with a weird habit of wearing the same outfit day in, day out. She’d also break into song, befriend her fellow strange teens with no thought to her safety and talk to herself a lot. Either that or she’d be a glorified mean girl with a drug habit...
· The Wizard would be the principal with a penchant for wearing woman’s shoes
· The Wicked Witch of the West would be the maths teacher...nuff said.
What would Oz High look like to you?