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July 12, 1985 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1985-07-12

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Page 8 Friday, July 12, 1985 The Michigan Daily
'Return' follows a better brick road
far different, darker departure down
By Byron L. Bull the Yellow Brick Road. Dorothy is
swept away by a thunderstorm and
carried down a raging river out to sea
THE LAST THING I wanted to do in an old wood packing crate that is
here was get into comparisons shaped suspiciously like a baby's crib.
between Walter Murch's Return to Oz Once back in Oz, she finds that the
and The Wizard of Oz. For one, that's famous gold trail is smashed to pieces
a cheap copout, and a lazy, suprficial and the Emerald City reduced to ruin
anghe.pcoouandla ywsmpeasby a malevolent living mountain
angle. Secondly, the two films are an known as the Name King (Nicol 1y)
dissimilar in all but the most super- W o n and Piness MK i , aNi
. . Williamson) and Princess Mombi, a
ficial ways that there's little material deviously comic Jean Marsh, as a
to plausibly work with. But so many vain witch who resides alone in a
critics - even normally reliable ones castle of mirrors.a,
like Vincent Canby and Gene Siskel - This is an Oz with much spookier
have been doing just that, and with overtones. Malevolent rocks watch,
memories of "the original" so grossly and leer at Dorothy from every forest
distorted that this charming and and field. Princess Mombi wants to
unique fantasy is being sadly yank off Dorothy's pretty head and
overlooked and maliciously add it to her extensive collection -
misrepresented. Return to Oz is not
only on the whole the more the Princess changes heads - like
imaginative, but is graced with a jewelry - to suit her moods. Murch
more innocent, simple charm. has gotten a lot of flack about this by
Murch's vision runs much closer to critics who seem to think that the film 4
L. Frank Baum's original Oz books, should be saccharine safe, apperently
with a few concessions to Wizard, oblivious to the fact that among
which has become such a pop-cultural Wizard's most profoundly effective
monument it can't be completely scenes to children are those with the
ignored - like the ruby slippers, and Wicked Witch and her winged
Fairuza Balk's Dorothy, whose large monkeys.
doe-like eyes and long brown Return to Oz follows in the classic
ponytails faintly recall Judy Garland. fairytale tradition of contrasting
Otherwise Murch's vision follows daydreaminess with the nightmarish,
Baum's vision, with characters like something the greatest fantasists,
the Tinwoodsman, Cowardly Lion, from Bradbury to the Brothers
and the cult favorite Jack Pum- Grimm, and even Walt Disney, an- Tog uhmlge,'eunt
pknhead, realized woode uly true derstood, and which Murch shows an z seThough much maligned, 'Return to
the wild John Neil book illustrations astute sensitivity for. Murch's Oz' (see above) is in many ways bet-
and vastly more imaginative than climactic confrontation between theer at rg (s l) d
M.G.M.'s anthropomorphic counter- Nome King and Dorothy, with rock certainly more true to the original L.
parts. ghouls clawing out from the cave Frank Baum Oz stories.
But from the very opening, with walls surrounding her - brilliantly-
depressed, insomniac Dorothy being rendered by Claymation artist Will
sent off to an asylum for electroshock See 'OZ', Page9
therapy, you sense this is going to bea
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