I have now finished reading L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written in 1900, and it only took me about 3 days to read. What can I say? The movie both pales in comparison but also excels in certain aspects. But we will discuss briefly about the book.
Many aspects of the story were completely unfamiliar, and other aspects were faintly familiar, while still other aspects were plainly familiar. But it is amazing at how much was unfamiliar. Several parts of the book are violent, albeit brief and nondescript. There are parts that add a mild suspense, that, if only familiar with the movie, are very surprising. The part at the river, or the crossing of the chasm, or the field mice who save Lion from the poppy field, or the china village, or the hammer-head hill, or even the forest with the giant spider are all welcome “additions” that I was unfamiliar with. Some aspects the movie simply changed. For example, the Tinman in the movie is the Woodman in the book. It is not that he is made of wood in the book, but, rather, he is a man made of tin who cuts down trees. Or how about the flying monkeys? The movie includes them, but doesn’t mention that they are like genies, only, instead of granting 3 wishes, they will be summoned 3 times on demand and fulfill whatever orders are given within a certain set of parameters. Nor does the movie mention that Dorothy and company gain control of the flying monkeys and use them to their own ends. Then there are the all too familiar parts: the tornado, the house falling on the Wicked Witch of the East, the pale of water that melts the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard of Oz flying away in a hot air balloon. This book, then, is a fresh read. The movie doesn’t do it justice. But, there are parts in the movie that excel. For example, they add in a scene in which the Wicked Witch of the West appears on the yellow brick road to meet Dorothy and company. This scene is not in the book. But the book is much more entertaining with its additional aspects of trials and grief.
[Edit, 1:21pm, March 14, 2011] I just realized I forgot to mention an important fact: Dorothy’s slippers are not ruby red in the book as they are in the movie. In the book, they are silver. Also, she doesn’t say, “There’s no place like home,” at the end of the book whilst clicking her heals together three times. She basically commands, “Take me to Aunt Em!” I like the way the movie does it better.