The Wizard of Oz vs. The Wiz

Social media is very enlightening on the thoughts of others. You may never know the thoughts of a great many people until something happens to set off an explosion of common thought. At the end of  year a live TV showing of The Wiz was produced by NBC. The tweets that followed were hilarious.

The answer to their questions is obviously Victor Fleming’s 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. But what wasn’t funny was the debate afterward on which was better. Out of this unnecessary debate came a lot of racist remarks and pointless fighting. So I decided to write about it and actually compare the two.

I grew up with The Wizard of Oz. It was even on of my list of favorite movies seeing as I could never just pick one. After having watched it thousands of times before learning about The Wiz, I was intrigued. I wanted to see how they did it. So basic facts: The WOO was made in 1939 and was based off of L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, while the 1978 film, The Wiz, was based off both the novel and a 1974 musical of the same name. They are incredibly different despite the similar plot points.

  1. The Ruby Slippers vs. The Silver Slippers

    In the original novel, the slippers are silver. The WOO chose to change them to ruby to get the full effect of the technicolor technology that they were using for the first time. The Wiz stayed true to the silver slippers.

  2. Dorothy’s background story: In the WOO, Dorothy was an orphan living with her aunt and uncle who wanted to get away and go somewhere else. In the Wiz, Dorothy is a teacher living with her aunt and uncle, who is afraid to get a place of her own.
  3. Landscape: In the WOO you get the country side of Kansas and a rural Oz in comparison to Harlem, New York with an urban re-imagining of Oz, it’s a city.You get a forest in comparison to a subway.
  4. Music

The music is extremely different. The WOO you get classical musical theater songs where as you get upbeat Funk in the Wiz.

To sum it all up, one movie is not better that the other. They tell similar tales but do so in dissimilar ways. I love each movie independently of each other for the techniques they employ rather than compare them to some idea of how it is suppose to be.

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