Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MOVIES | Oz the Great and Powerful

One of my all-time favourite movies growing up was The Wizard of Oz - something about a magical land full of munchkins and a gorgeous, sparkly pair of red shoes just spoke to me. So naturally, I am quite excited to check out the upcoming film, Oz the Great and Powerful. With some of the industry's biggest names, including James Franco, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams, I'm looking forward to seeing how they take on the mystical characters and bring the movie to life.

Oz the Great and Powerful takes a look at the journey of Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a traveling magician who finds himself in this unknown land, eventually becoming the iconic Wizard of Oz. Along the way, he meets three witches, Theodora, Evanora and Glinda (played by Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz), and encounters a variety of challenges that help him discover who he really is.

Check out the trailer:

I got to listen into a conference call with the film's director Sam Raimi and James Franco a couple weeks ago. Check out some snippets from the interview:

What inspired your version of the world of Oz?
SAM RAIMI: I drew it all from the great author L. Frank Baum, his vision of Oz, that he had written about in 14-some books. I was also inspired by the illustrator Denslow. He was the original illustrator from the L. Frank Baum books, so a lot of inspiration was taken from his drawings. I was also inspired by the great, classic movie The Wizard of Oz of course - who could not be inspired by that? More than the visuals, what inspired me about The Wizard of Oz movie was the characters' sense of love that they have for each other, how friends come together, and that very sweet, soulful message that comes at the end of the picture when we learn from the wizard that all of us are complete, all of us broken, lonely individuals are complete, we have within us the things that make us complete if we only recognize it. So that gave me a great source of inspiration.

On casting Mila Kunis:

SR: She plays Theodora and Theodora is a good and innocence character so I’m looking for someone who can portray that innocence and also she makes a turn for the wicked side. The wizard breaks her heart and at first she’s heart broken but then a deep anger starts to stir within her and she becomes a raging woman scorned. So I needed someone who could portray both sides of that character. There were a lot of great actresses but when I saw two movies, it told me that she could handle both sides. One was Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I saw this real positive vibe she put out as a Hawaiian hotel clerk and I thought, there is an innocent, positive force. I believe she can play Theodora. And then when I saw the brilliant Black Swan, where she had this real dark and nasty witchy quality, that showed she could play the other half of the role. So between those movies, I thought she had everything it took to become Theodora.

Side note, speaking of Mila Kunis, this hilarious interview is currently spreading throughout the Internet and it is definitely a must-watch:

What are you most excited about for audiences to take away after seeing the film? 

SR: Ideally, I’d like them to feel uplifted. The best thing that stories can do for us is reverberate with truth and show us the way, in a way that is not pushy or preachy. But you Basically, if you can recognize that this is true and that is true and that there is a way to be happy without material goods, without pride, without sense of self being everything, all dominating. There is a simple beauty in loving another person, in friends coming together, in being selfless, and that’s what this movie’s message is. That’s what I’d like the audience to come away with.

How did you prepare for the role?

JAMES FRANCO: I had to be able to carry myself as a magician because my character, Oscar Diggs, starts off as a travelling magician in a circus and we even see a bit of one of his shows. So I had to be able to do those tricks convincingly and to hold myself on stage like a magician in a convincing way, so they hired one of the best magicians in Las Vegas, Lance Burton, to come to Detroit and I was fortunate enough to have private lessons with him. He taught me how to make it look like I’m having people levitate and make it look like they’re evaporating in front of everyone’s eyes and then also just how to hold myself on stage. He taught me all of that, so it was great.

What did you bring personally to the character Oz?

JF: I’ve been doing a fair amount of comedies recently and I saw this movie and this role as a chance to use some of the comedy chops that I had been developing in some other full-out comedies, but do it within a movie that had more of an adventure-tale structure. So I like this idea of a comedic character within an epic movie.

What was the most challenging part?

JF: It was a fun shoot. I had fun all the way through. It was a long shoot, so maybe that was the most challenging part of it. Just working on something for half a year was quite and undertaking, but I had a great time all the way through, mainly because Sam Raimi was directing and he’s the most fun director to work with.


Oz the Great and Powerful comes out in theatres this Friday, March 8 - will you be checking it out this weekend? Let me know how it is!

- Christina
Follow my adventures on Twitter: @christinaaa28

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