Saturday, October 08, 2005

Finding Neverland in an Oz movie

So I finally got a chance to watch Finding Neverland last night (Kate Winslet is a babe, by the way), and abot halfway through I realized I'd seen it before -- back when it was shown on TV in 1990 as The Dreamer of Oz. For those not familiar with the latter, it was a movie starring John Ritter as L. Frank Baum, and told the story of how he came to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The parallels really are interesting when you get down to it: Baum and Barrie were contemporaries, and the play of Peter Pan premiered in 1904, only four years after Oz was published. (The book version of Peter Pan came later, which was the reverse of what happened with The Wizard of Oz, but neither movie touches on that, so I'm not sure why I'm telling you this...) The creation of both stories is told with a mix of realistic and fantasy elements, as we see into the authors' imaginations. There's a domineering matriarch (Julie Christie as Emma du Marier in Finding Neverland, Rue McClannahan as Matilda Gage, Baum's mother-in-law, in The Dreamer of Oz) trying to ground everyone in reality and failing miserably, who then become one of the greatest champions of the authors in the end. Events are spurred on by tragic deaths in both movies. And Laura did a little research, and found that Finding Neverland left out one of the real Llewellyn Davies boys, as there were five. The Dreamer of Oz only ever showed three of L. Frank Baum's sons, but he had four.

I'm certainly not implying that the producers of Finding Neverland copied The Dreamer of Oz. Since both cover similar subjects, however, these little similarities were bound to come up. Now, if only someone would finally release The Dreamer of Oz on DVD!

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