Sunday, September 03, 2023

The Little Wizards of Oz - Review

 In November last year, I spotted a Blu-Ray titled Blood on Melies' Moon in my RSS feed reader for's feed. I was about to scroll past when I looked at the image of the cover and noticed it mentioned a movie titled The Little Wizards of Oz. The Blu-Ray set actually contained three films by Italian director Luigi Cozzi, who's nicknamed "Italy's Ed Wood." (The famous director who would make films on a shoestring budget but clearly really had a passion for doing it.) I didn't pick it up, hoping to hear some feedback about the movie first.

Well, yesterday I saw the movie was on the free streamer Tubi and decided to check it out.

This is not a straightforward adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We open with a quick rundown of the origin of the book, and a reveal of its sequels and many of its adaptations and a note that children in Italy also enjoy the book while at school.

Moving onto children rapping, we see some what appears to be behind the scenes shots of the crew working with the children who play the students in a classroom that a substitute teacher is taking over the Italian lesson. The children did reports on the first chapter of the book, which get presented with some charming cheap animations depicting how the children are reimagining the story.

The substitute is taken with the children interacting with the story and wants to complete the story with them, despite higher ups at the school wanting her to stick to a lesson plan. This includes scenes from the story, often with twists from the original text, played with the children as Dorothy and her friends and people who work at the school filling in for other Oz characters. The CGI shots are clearly CGI, but given that this is how a class is imagining the world of Oz, we can accept it.

There's a few fun touches, like the Wicked Witch of the West using an Etch-A-Sketch to spy on Dorothy, with the screen claiming it's "TV-OZ STATION 666."

While anyone wanting a great Oz adaptation or a new Oz story in film might be disappointed, I thought The Little Wizards of Oz was fairly charming in how it celebrates Oz stimulating the imagination. I was also reminded of the documentary film Yellow Brick Road about a special needs school putting on a performance of The Wizard of Oz, except that followed a real production at a real school, while the story of Little Wizards is fiction. But both are about people connecting with the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

If it wasn't clear above, The Little Wizards of Oz is actually in Italian. On Tubi, the version offered includes "hard subs" (they're actually part of the image and can't be turned off) in addition to a subtitle track. I found it easier to turn off Tubi's subtitles and just go with the subtitles in the image.

As I've picked up DVDs and Blu-Rays with less Oz content before, I might very well get a copy of Blood on Melies' Moon to own a copy of The Little Wizards of Oz in my collection.

No comments: