Friday, February 19, 2010

"He's The Wiz And He Lives In Oz"

Sweet thing, let me tell you about The Wiz. It's an African-American musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, that is set in New York City in the 1970's. Its great use of funk music, inspiring themes, and wonderful choreography makes it a feel good time for all. The musical was so well received, 7 Tony Awards, that after just three years on Broadway a film adaptation was released. The film starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, the late Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin man, and Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion. At first glance, The Wiz is just another adaptation of the famous Oz story that has been told through many medians, but it represents so much more. The Wiz takes a story that is primarily associated with the white community and gives it an African-American spin. The movie, as well as the musical, are artworks inspired by the Black Arts Movement.

So what, might you ask, are the differences between the beloved Victor Fleming adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and Sidney Lumet's The Wiz? Well, let's start with Dorothy. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is a Kansas farm-girl around the age of 16 played by Judy Garland. In The Wiz, Dorothy is a 24 year old kindergarten teacher from Harlem played by Diana Ross. Munchkinland is also represented very differently. In The Wizard of Oz, the munchkins are rather sweet and very reserved compared to the munchkins in The Wiz. The munchkins in The Wiz, much like those in The Wizard of Oz, are liberated from the Wicked Witch of the East, however in The Wiz the munchkins are physically liberated because they were turned into graffiti by the Wicked Witch. As you might have guessed, the setting of Oz differs in both movies. The Wizard of Oz shows Oz as country side that leads to the Emerald City. However, The Wiz depicts Oz as a less privileged part of a city, modeled after NYC, that leads to a grand, elegant Emerald City, filmed at the World Trade Towers. With the use of a city setting changes some of the plot of the movie, such as the poppy field. In The Wiz, the poppies are not flowers, instead they are represented as prostitutes.

But, the differences don't end there. I'll blog about the others later. But, in the mean time, check out the movie trailer.


  1. I think your blog post was very well written and it really made me want to watch the movie. I think you chose a good topic for the post and I am looking forward to read your next post:)

  2. Wow! I can't wait to read more. You have really captured my imagination. What a wonderful writer you are. Great use of description. You really tie The Wiz into the Black Arts Movement, something I hadn't realized it represented. Excellent work. Nice use of links as well.

  3. This blog post is well structured and the title is really attractive. The links are really useful and this blog post is extremely persuasive. The description really guided me through my imaginations of this movie. I think this topic is really interesting and i can't wait to read your other blogs.

    P.S: the movie trailer is amazing! :)

  4. I loved this post! Definitely my favorite so far! I loved how you almost made it kind of a story and I also love that you included the trailer! which i watched two times by the way! I think that it looks like a wonderful African American representation of the wizard of oz.

  5. When the Wizard of Oz was written it was written as a social commentary on the politics of America and the different ideas going around in America. For example, the scarecrow represented the brainless farmers of the mid-West who didn't have brains and the rusted Tinman represented the heartless Industry of America. However I found this extremely interesting that this story was re-written to address political issues taking place a century later. Awesome post and very fitting