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Smithsonian Channel: The Origins of Oz Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
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Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on February 10, 2013
 

Publisher: Inception Media Group

ASIN: B00AAQ7KJS




Publisher: Inception Media Group

ASIN: B00AAQ7KJS


In timed to capitalize on the forthcoming Oz, The Great and Powerful, Inception Media is releasing a DVD of the Smithsonian Channel's 46 minute 2010 documentary, The Origins of Oz. And why not? Decade after decade, generation after generation, Americans have enjoyed the stories of the wonderful wizard of Oz whether reading the original L. Frank Baum books or viewing the 1939 MGM musical classic. Finding out how the 14 stories were created is a fascinating peek behind the curtain of the first American fairy tale featuring the first true children's feminist.

The great and powerful Oz himself might not like learning he got his name from a filing cabinet, the section containing the O through Z files. Everyone else should enjoy how director Anne MacGregor and historians from the National Museum of American History trace how imaginative entrepreneur Frank Baum tried his hand at various ventures before finding success writing children's books, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz being his third. The documentary shows how various events and people in Baum's life ultimately became characters in the book, notably, of course, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Did you know the Tin Man was originally a manikin Baum created as a display figure in a hardware store window?

The documentary illustrates how Baum's vivid imagination was fueled by the world he saw around him, especially the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the “White City,” which became the Emerald City. Baum grew up with strong women and made no secret of his belief that women deserved equality. In addition, his books dramatized his opinion that we need only look inside ourselves for the qualities we think we lack.

The documentary successfully shows why the Oz stories were the Harry Potter books of their day, and this was accomplished without the modern marketing machines supporting J. K. Rowling. While there are a few minutes devoted to the making of the 1939 film, this isn't a documentary that dives into how the Judy Garland vehicle came to be. Other DVDs explore that story in much greater depth. Here, we're taken back to the real origins of Oz and, unless a tornado takes you there, this is a good way to introduce yourself and your children to how it all began.

 

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