Thursday, April 29, 2010

“We’re off to see the Wizard…”

I am currently experiencing something of an Oz obsession. Not for all things Australian, you understand, but for somewhere even further away: the fantasy land of Frank L Baum’s imagination.

I have always rather sniffed at The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Perhaps, having been brought up on a strict diet of Barrie, Carroll, Tolkein et al, I was snobby about the American Baum and his land of Oz. Indeed, I am still of the opinion that the plot – more the book’s than the film’s – is rather holey and not entirely deserving of its literary status. However, on revisiting both book and (superior) film, I have come to the conclusion that there are many aspects to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that are, well, wonderful.

Wonderful, and useful. A few months ago, I decided that there were rather a lot of nice parallels between Baum’s story and my own burgeoning novel: the importance of home versus whatever’s over the rainbow, a black and white world versus a technicolour one, plus storms and dreams and – most importantly – the idea of a seemingly great man who is not as quite as he appears. It all fits rather well into (the currently titled) Meeting in the Middle. So imagine my joy, on re-watching the film, of finding this little gem:

“The Great Oz has spoken. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

This is currently the new epitaph to my novel. This and some quotations from Hawthorne’s retelling of the Midas myth – Midas being another famously flawed man. Coming up with potential epitaphs is much more exciting than writing the thing.

(I have also recently seen Wicked in the West End and was very impressed. Aside from a fantastic production, I was very taken by/jealous of the story – what a fantastic idea Maguire had, to put a spin on the Wicked Witch of the West, who – as the musical so rightly points out – didn’t really do anything that wicked, apart from demand back the shoes of her dead squashed sister.)