Off to see and read The Wizard

The Bonner Springs (KS) City Library has put together a Read, Watch, Discuss series focusing on books and movies with close ties to Kansas in honor of the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood. wizardofoz

The three book/film series includes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Addie Pray by Joe Brown and filmed under the title Paper Moon, and Picnic by William Inge.

At the first session, reader-viewers read the children’s classic and watched the film classic. Before the movie started, the audience was prompted to think of a few themes while watching. One of them was the concept of home, who has it, who finds it, and what does it mean for each character? Viewers were also encouraged to think of the character of Dorothy in the book and the film.

After the screening, viewers had plenty to say about the movie having just read the book. Most commented that it had been many years since they’d read the book and all were surprised at how different the two classics are.

One viewer wanted to point out the differences in the back stories of each character, particularly the Tinman. In Baum’s novel, the Tinman comes to be made of metal in a quite violent manner which doesn’t really match the sweet nature the actor gives the character in film. Audience members felt this may have been too graphic for the time period and the audience for the Depression Era classic.ozmovie

Participants had a lively debate about the character of Dorothy in the film and the book. In the book, readers noticed, Dorothy is much more independent and takes action to save herself and her friends. In the movie, Dorothy relies on her friends to save her and each other. Viewers surmised that the biblio-Dorothy works better in print and would be very uninteresting, but the cine-Dorothy works better with the plot of the film.

Reader-viewers also wondered if these differences might have something to do with the general tone of Dorothy’s life on page and screen. In the book, Dorothy’s relationship with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry isn’t very warm. The older adults seem bewildered by her presence. In the movie, the elderly couple smile dotingly on Dorothy, and while they may be busy and speaking brusquely, it is evident that they have warm feelings for her.

The final consensus from the crowd is that the movie is better than the book. That’s the first time I’ve heard that statement.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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