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Film / The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a 1910 film based off of Land of Oz series. It is not the first adaptation but it is the oldest known surviving adaptation of the series. The film had two sequels - Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz and The Land of Oz - that are both lost.

The film is a composite adaptation of various Oz media. It takes elements from the books The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, as well as the then-popular 1902 play.

The story begins with Dorothy and her cow Imogene in Kansas being chased by a mule. The two run into the fields, where Dorothy finds the scarecrow is alive. A tornado hits the trio and sends them (along with Dorothy's dog Toto and the unnamed mule) to the land of Oz. In the Emerald City, the Wizard declares his retirement. The evil witch Momba appears and attacks the Wizard, but the paper crowning the new leader disappears. Dorothy and her peers travel through the woods where they end up meeting the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodsman, and Eureka the cat along the way. They also find the missing paper in a tree. Momba orders her soldiers to capture the group, but Dorothy kills her by throwing water on her. The Wizard celebrates at his retirement party, names the Scarecrow the new king, and leaves in a balloon.

The film was made by the Selig Polyscope Company, however L. Frank Baum had no direct input. It was made during the period he lost the rights to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. The film was made to fulfill a contractual obligation of Baum's caused by his bankruptcy due to The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (the oldest film adaptation of Oz from 1908).

It is unknown who acted in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz because the credits have long since been lost. Speculation is that Dorothy is played by Bebe Daniels, however it's impossible to tell for sure without proof. Robert Z. Leonard is speculated have played the Scarecrow, Hobart Bosworth played the Wizard, Olive Cox played Glinda the Good, Hobart Bosworth played Momba, and Winifred Greenwood played Aunt Em, however most of the other cast members are unknown.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • At the time, Dorothy had been turned into a blonde in illustrations. The film depicts her as she originally was—a brunette.
    • Glinda's hair seems too dark for a redhead, but then again her hair wasn't described in early books.
    • Eureka is black-and-white, not pure white.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Toto is an English Bulldog, not a terrier.
  • Adapted Out: Many characters, however most noticeable are the Wicked Witch of the West and Tip/Ozma.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Imogene the cow isn't a character from the books. She replaced Toto in the 1902 theatrical musical.
    • The mule is an original character.
  • Composite Character: Momba takes the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Demoted to Extra: Glinda pops out of nowhere for one scene just to transform Toto.
  • Pantomime Animal: Just like in the 1902 play, the animals are played this way.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Bits and pieces of the series are smashed together to fit the 13-minute length. For example, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in Kansas. It's not explained why he's alive, however.
  • Mythology Gag: The film includes elements of the 1902 musical, however it's Truer to the Text as it adds back Adapted Out characters like Toto and the Wicked Witch of the West.