Cast of "Oz the Great and Powerful" weighs in on upcoming film
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 00:02
The land of ruby slippers, yellow brick roads and flying monkeys is on its way back to movie theaters.
“Oz the Great and Powerful,” featuring James Franco, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams give Wizard of Oz fans a look into the life of the Wizard when he first arrives in Oz.
The film, directed by Sam Raimi, is based on other fictitious works of author L. Frank Baum whose imagination concocted “The Wonderful World of Oz,” the inspiration for the original film.
Raimi’s casting process for selecting actresses for Glinda and Theodora was based on choosing women whose day-to-day personalities could be mirrored in the film’s characters’ own personalities.
Michelle Williams has a pure goodness, as a person, that Raimi felt would translate well into Glinda, the good and innocent witch.
“I needed an actress with a good soul and when you zoom in on screen, the audience can tell,” Raimi said.
For Raimi, the hardest and most important part of the script and filming was finding a balance between telling the audience enough and giving them room to imagine their own Oz.
“[The hardest part was] juggling what part of the characters backstory should I use and how much I should let the audience’s own imagination finish the character,” Raimi said.
James Franco, a fan of the L. Frank Baum’s novels, said the most important part for him was sticking with Baum’s original description of Oz and its inhabitants while still presenting audiences with a new and fresh perspective.
“They were some of the first books I read on my own,” Franco said, “so I wanted to be sure they had a sound approach. They had all the elements you need in order to recognize the world of Oz.”
As a conniving magician whisked away to Oz in a hot air balloon trip gone awry, Franco’s character, Oscar, must convince the population of Oz that his tricks are those a full fledge wizard.
Franco had to train pre-production for these feats, learning levitation, evaporation and the mannerisms of an on-stage magician from Las Vegas magician Lance Burton.
While Franco sees the comedy of the film as an aspect that will set it apart from other adaptations of the 14 Oz novels, Raimi saw its theme of selflessness and love as the key to the audience’s heart.
“[When audiences see Oz] I’d liken the to feel uplifted. The best things that stories can do for us is reverberate with truth and show us the way in a way that isn’t pushy/preachy,” Raimi said. “There is a simple beauty in loving another person and being selfless.”
Raimi’s favorite character in the land of Oz is a prime example of the film’s characters’ selflessness towards one another. The computer-animated China Girl is a broken porcelain doll whose town has been destroyed by flying monkeys.
“She doesn’t mope about her place in the universe and for that, I admire her,” Raimi said.
While the on-screen graphics and animations are spectacular, the music of the film, composed by Danny Elfman, who has written scores for almost 90 movies, also brings a new element to the story, according to Raimi. “Hearing the composer create the score, it makes the emotions elevated,” Raimi said. “[Elfman was the] secret sauce that brought it to the next level.”
“Oz the Great and Powerful” opens in theaters March 8.