Girl2 recently fulfilled my fondest familial lineage hopes by coming to me with the stained-cover, pages falling out edition of The Wizard of Oz I received after my grandfather’s death.
I’ve got a terrible memory, most things are hazy, but one thing I do remember is hearing him read to me from that book.
So you might say the Wizard is one of the foundations of my love of speculative fiction.
When girl2 brought it over to me a few days ago, I was surprised to see a girl’s name written on the inside cover with the date “1914.” Holy cow! I had no idea the book packed away in boxes, carted from California to Oregon, etc was almost a hundred years old.
Anyway, she’s letting me read it to her. And I didn’t have to bribe her or anything. And it’s been interesting to me to see how much I’ve forgotten about the story and how different story telling was at the time Mr. Baum wrote that book. The rhythm of the language and the grandiose descriptive style certainly dates the book.
But it doesn’t disappoint.
On the other hand, we watched the movie version of the Wizard of Oz last night and it was really hard for me to hold back my comments on the outdated special effects, the pathetic tendency for Dorothy to cry over Toto or not being able to see the Wizard, and the crazy obvious backdrops.
It was enjoyable to watch…but sad for me. I don’t like to see things I treasured appear…tarnished.
So that’s why I don’t like to see movies or tv shows more than once or twice (with the exception of the Princess Bride which has yet to disappoint).
Books I can read and still get lost in a world or a character. But movies…they’re too real. Painfully real. Seeing an actor bring a beloved character to life means that actor has limited the possibilities of what that actor can look like or be, and while sometimes they do it skillfully, they will never, never, never equal what that character could be in my mind.
And if I watch the movie 20 years later and they seem slightly pathetic because conventions and mores have changed, well that’s even worse.
So I’ll be sticking to books, thank you. Even 100 year old books stand up stronger to the test of time.