11 March, 2013

Wicked Spring

Hey, Readers,

No, the title of this post is not a commentary on the season, nor am I revisiting my trip to Boston. Instead, it merely brings together some of the many things I have been thinking about recently. As you know, because I've mentioned it before, I often think of things I want to blog about and then don't get around to it, and by the time I end up blogging I either have to post a bunch at once or leave some until later! Now, I know I can schedule posts, but I'm not so big on that just yet. So this time, I'll just keep it brief and discuss two main things: Wicked and the general Oz world of literature and other media, and spring-time.

Thumbnail from vlog where I showed the new books I got.
Pictured: Wicked and Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire.
Last spring, I was in London and saw a production of the musical, Wicked. Then a few months ago I picked up some new books from the half price store, including Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and its first sequel, Son of a Witch, by Gregory Maguire. I began reading the first book about a week or so ago, and I read casually, a little by little, until halfway through this week when I decided I wanted to finish it before my boyfriend and I went to see the new film, Oz: The Great and Powerful, which premiered on Friday, 8 March. I finished all but a few sections (I guess they're chapters, within books, but the way the novel is laid out, some sections are separated into numbered "chapters" and some are not, so I kept referring to them just as "sections") by Friday night at midnight, so I just left the last few for Saturday morning since obviously we weren't going to make it on Friday.

I am planning a series of videos for my channel where I will talk in depth about various witch-related media, so I don't want to say very much here. But there are a lot of things I have to say about not only Wicked the novel, but also the musical, and then in relation to the new film since I watched it immediately after finishing an alternate view on the story. Trust me, the following is not even a quarter of all I would like to say on these topics, so there will be plenty more in the distant future.

Firstly, the musical is EXTREMELY different from the novel! I expected variation, of course. A compression, at least, and some creative leeway beyond that. But wow, are they ever two different beings. They share a title and a basic plot, following the life of Elphaba, a green girl who grows up to be referred to as the Wicked Witch of the West. But beyond that, they are hardly the same creature. The musical incorporates more of the timeline from Baum's original book, overlapping bits so that you kind of know what's happening in Dorothy's side of the story as Elphaba's life goes on. I liked that when I saw the musical, so it surprised me that the novel ignores certain appearances the Witch makes in Dorothy's timeline in the original book, and instead has her living a whole separate life, sort of on the sidelines, away from Dorothy. Which does make sense in the context of the novel, and I like it very much for that. I just expected a little more of that awareness of the original, having been fooled into thinking the musical was like the book. Sort of like if you've ever watched the movie (or read the play) Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, and every once in a while you see Hamlet and the other characters from the original story run through R&G's scenes, haha. Or like watching Lion King 1 1/2, and getting little looks at what Simba's up to in the original at the time you're watching Timon & Pumbaa get into their own trouble. Wicked the novel is not like that, but the musical is.

And then, seeing Oz! Wow, is it ever different. Parts of the film actually had me wondering if they were combining it with Through the Looking Glass (sources do say Baum was influenced by Carroll), or if I had missed some key points of the canon, having not read all 14 original books by Baum myself. I did pretty extensive research on The Wizard of Oz my freshman year at college, and through it I did read a few synopses of the other books, though I was focusing on comparing the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (which I do own and have read) to the then SciFi channel original series, Tin Man. It was a great project, but like I said, even so I was left wondering if I had missed things that they decided to use in the movie. I did some basic research upon returning from the cinema, and I learned that throughout the many books, plays, movies, and spin-offs of Oz, the character's names are almost NEVER the same. So we can't really compare one to the other directly, since Elphaba is certainly not anything like the film's Theodora (who becomes wicked out of good, as opposed to Elphaba who was born green at the start), and neither of them are much like Tin Man's Azkadellia or the original western witchy gal. The film's Evanora is no Nessarose (Wicked Witches of the East in Oz: The Great and Powerful and Wicked, respectively), and the Wizard himself lives different timelines in each! Don't even get me started on Glinda, whose very homeland has been confused from the moment the 1939 MGM film hit the screens. The new film does place her in the South, as she was originally, though many people know her as being from the North. Even in the book/musical Wicked, Glinda is from Gillikin to the north, resulting in my forgetting that she was ever from the South. Which reminds me, also don't get me started on the map discrepancies! Each one has things in different places, whole areas looking different, etc. I am rather partial to Maguire's world of Oz, though, having just read it. But I digress.

Captioning is mine, photo from online.
Azkadellia from SciFi's Tin Man series.
I suppose the overall lesson here, as far as comparisons go, is that different people really do have very different views of the same exact things. But at least in this case, it's nice that they DO have all those varying names. Because as I said, Elphaba is not Theodora is not Azkadellia. Oz is not quite The O.Z. It would not be fair to expect them to be alike. It is a little harder to discuss with things such as Glinda, for example, portrayed many ways under the same name, implying that they are the same throughout. Think about your own lives. How many things do people pass off under the same name, claiming them to be alike when they clearly--or unclearly--aren't? And how many times to we encounter situations where people have used different names when they're really talking about the same exact thing? Oh yes, I find lessons everywhere, connections within connections. I love to look at different takes on the same thing, whether it be children's stories, classic plays, or even religions.

After all that, I suppose the spring-time seems a footnote. But I did see Wicked in London in the spring, and it is almost now spring again. Also, both subjects involve a vibrant, verdant green. =) With all these thoughts of witches and green skin and who's good or evil or what evil even is (great discussions about that in the novel Wicked, by the bye)... Today I managed to feel like a witch my way, what being witch means to me. Not to L. Frank Baum or his many successors who wrote so many sequels. Not to the creators of Tin Man, Zardoz (sci fi thing I just learned about, never seen it), or The Wiz. Not to the writers, actors, or production crew of Oz: The Great and Powerful, and also not to Gregory Maguire. I am a witch without much pomp, unlike Az or Glinda or any in the new film. But I am also not a witch who goes out of her way to blend in, like Elphie, covered head to toe to avoid the painful rain water.

I am a witch who runs excitedly outside into the mud, slipping in green and brown argyle shoes bought on discount but loved for their style and comfort; Who stands out on the mossy hill in her bright pink t-shirt, but doesn't mind getting her hands muddy digging to test the soil for a good garden spot. A witch who selectively inspects old flower pots, and while she did light a candle that morning in church in the spirit of the approaching season, really still feels most like a witch when picking the dead leaves off an old mum, reveling in the tiny greenness that is revealed to still be present. As some Wicked merchandised t-shirts proclaim, "Green is Good." That goes for storybook witches as well as for me, as well as for you, as well as for the planet. Green means growth, promise, potential, newness, and freshness. Green means fertility, prosperity, and life. Whether you have green skin, a green thumb, or just like the color, it's good. It's important. It's time.


No comments:

Post a Comment