25 June 2013

Contradictions and Coincidences in Oz the Great and Powerful

During Sunday’s panel discussion on Oz the Great and Powerful, Caroline Spector pointed out that we don’t see Theodora the witch perform any witchcraft.

That made me think of the scene in which Oz saves Finley the winged monkey from being devoured by scaring a lion away with flash powder. Theodora is nearby, but apparently doesn’t think to throw fire the same way. Nor does she protect herself from the flying baboon with her magic in the preceding scene. How much of a witch is she, anyway?

Of course, when Theodora turns evil (as shown here), she starts tossing fireballs around like there was a fire sale. Does that imply she must become bad to deploy her powers?

Other questions that arose during discussions at the Winkie Convention:
  • If Oz is such a fan of Thomas Edison, why doesn’t he use any electrical effects or machines in his magic act? (One old-fashioned projection machine in his trailer doesn’t count.)
  • If China Doll needs to sleep (Oz tucks her in one night), why is she unaffected by the Poppy Field?
  • Why does Finley struggle to carry Oz’s bag along the Yellow Brick Road but have no trouble flying with it?
  • How can a small, jury-rigged hot-air balloon lift so much gold? Gold is heavy.
And then there are the plotting coincidences of the sort that Hollywood often asks us to accept. There’s no reason for Oz to keep his final plan secret except to increase suspense for us. And that plan depends on him correctly calculating exactly what the wicked witches will do, down to the split second. In addition, China Doll returns Glinda’s wand not a second too late or too soon.

Those are all internal incongruities of the script. Trying to reconcile Oz the Great and Powerful with other versions of the Oz mythos would of course produce even bigger questions.

What’s your favorite, or least favorite, inconsistency within Oz the Great and Powerful?

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

One fine round-up of the movie's head-scratching moments is The Editing Room's "abridged script."