The Union Recorder

March 11, 2013

New movie reignites interest in the wonderful world of Oz


GCSU Communications

MILLEDGEVILLE — The adventures of Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and the Wizard are etched in the minds of many around the world.

“For me, it was the first book I remember reading,” said Dr. Michael Riley, professor of English at Georgia College. “The words just disappeared because I was so caught up in the story.”

Whether it’s fond memories of reading the books as a child or watching the iconic movie made in 1939, “The Wizard of Oz” remains a key symbol of American culture.

In that fantasy world created by author L. Frank Baum, Riley found a passion and career. He has published several books on the author and his works, and dedicates much of his research to topic.

“There have been numerous adaptations of Baum’s 14 volume Oz book series,” said Riley. “From cartoons to musicals and other works of literature, he made the foundation of the story that has grown legs and continues to develop even 113 years after it was published.”

March 8 a new take on the classic book came to movie theaters across the nation.

According to iMDb.com, “Oz the Great and Powerful” explores how a small time magician is blown away from Kansas to the Land of Oz, becoming the Wizard.

“I’m curious to see if it closely follows the books or is more a prequel to the 1939 movie,” said Riley. “In the books, there are subtle hints about how the Wizard came to Oz and rose to power. The 1939 movie does not fully explore that side of the story.”

Starring James Franco, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and is directed by Sam Raimi.

It’s said to be based on Baum’s first book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” as it explore the Wizard’s rise to power, his relationship with the witches and quest to learn good from evil.

“I think a new take on the classic story shows how timeless it is,” said Riley. “I’ve watched the trailers and look forward to seeing this adaptation of the story.”

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VIDEO: Georgia College English professor Dr. Michael Riley on the newest take on a classic children's book.