Monday, July 06, 2015

Revisiting the 1991 Wizard of Oz

(Don't let the headline there confuse you. I was born in 1998, but the Oz adaptation I'm writing about was released that year.)

The first Oz film I encountered after the MGM film was The Wizard of Oz, a twenty-six minute cartoon produced by Golden Films and something called the American Film Investment Corporation. Wizard was one of six animated films based on a fairy tale produced by Golden Films in 1990 and 1991 - all released direct-to-video and often packaged to resemble Disney titles.

My first copy of this Oz cartoon was a DVD from the United Kingdom that also included Jack and the Beanstalk (which I never cared to watch). My dad bought it for me on eBay when I was five or six years old, along with a coloring book, sticker book, and a few other things.

This was before I even knew that the MGM film was actually based on a book, so I assumed that this cartoon was just a short, animated remake of the film with some odd changes and additions. Though there are a number of elements from the book present in this adaptation (like the Silver Slippers and the Kalidahs), the voice acting and a lot of the dialogue are pretty similar to the 1939 film. Dorothy, for example, sounds so much like Judy Garland that the five-year-old Angelo assumed it was the same voice.

As you would expect, the animation is not particularly impressive, but it's watchable. I've never cared much for the character designs, though I guess it's good that none of the characters were drawn to resemble their MGM counterparts. The Good Witch of the North and the Wizard are probably the least appealing: the former looking oddly masculine, and the latter dressed in cliched sorcerer attire.

In the end, this is a harmless film. Sure, it's a little uninspired and simplistic, but it's short enough (and affordable enough) to be worth watching at least once if you haven't before. You can buy it on DVD for less than $1.00 here.

No comments: