Watch the wonderful Wizard of Oz cartoon that predated the classic film

Originally published at:


interesting that it uses the exact same convention of real life being black and white and the land of oz being in color. that’s not a thing that happens in the book. makes me wonder if the live action version borrowed that idea from this one.


Actually, the book does have it, the first chapter set in Kansas is all about how everything there is flat and drab and gray, and when Dorothy arrives in Munchkinland, the narrative notes the sudden explosion of color.


And then the missing character the Lion comes out and eats the chickens.


The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint, and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

These lines have stuck in my head since I was old enough to work the record player.


The Wizard of Oz is an interesting bit of IP because the novel got a number of stage and screen treatments leading up to the classic 1939 live-action movie, but no Hollywood studio has attempted a straight adaptation since. Over the last 80 years we’ve seen “re-imaginings,” prequels, sequels and spin-offs but I’m not aware of any studio that tried to just make another straightforward film adaptation of the original novel. It’s like all the studios collectively decided “the 1939 version is as good as it’s going to get, let’s not even try to top it.”

I mean, they’re probably right, but it’s still unusual to see Hollywood exercise that kind of restraint or self-awareness.


L. Frank Baum must never have visited Kansas, b/c it is anything but “flat and drab and gray”.



The Muppets did a version that’s filled with their usual humor and fourth-wall breaking, but still managed to more faithful to the original novel’s plot than any other adaptation.


Baum’s descriptions of Kansas are said to be based on his experiences living in drought-ridden South Dakota. Of course both Kansas and South Dakota have a lot of cool and decidedly non-flat, non-gray areas too, but the place he lived looked like this:


Granted, that’s a black-and-white photograph but I have a hunch it wouldn’t have looked like a Technicolor Munchkin Wonderland even if he’d had color film at the time.


Don’t know about SD, but Kansas is especially known for stunning sunsets.

Drought, of course, sucks anywhere, and will definitely change the look of a place.

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Makes you wonder when Hollywood will finally achieve the perfect Batman movie that nobody ever tries to match. It’s bound to happen eventually!


You also have to remember that Dorothy wasn’t exactly supposed to be from one of the more scenic parts of Kansas. Her family’s farm was likely in one of the many parts of Kansas where the landscape looks like this:


Except shittier, because drought.


Dammit! I was on a roll, and you pulled out Big Ag, and Big Ag always ruins everything!


Not a man breathed for several seconds. Then a cloud of darker depth passed over the moon, and the silhouette of clutching branches faded out momentarily. At this there was a general cry; muffled with awe, but husky and almost identical from every throat. For the terror had not faded with the silhouette, and in a fearsome instant of deeper darkness the watchers saw wriggling at that treetop height a thousand tiny points of faint and unhallowed radiance, tipping each bough like the fire of St. Elmo or the flames that came down on the apostles’ heads at Pentecost. It was a monstrous constellation of unnatural light, like a glutted swarm of corpse-fed fireflies dancing hellish sarabands over an accursed marsh; and its colour was that same nameless intrusion which Ammi had come to recognise and dread. All the while the shaft of phosphorescence from the well was getting brighter and brighter, bringing to the minds of the huddled men a sense of doom and abnormality which far outraced any image their conscious minds could form. It was no longer shining out, it was pouring out; and as the shapeless stream of unplaceable colour left the well it seemed to flow directly into the sky.

– The Color out of Oz.


I don’t think there could be a less representative picture of Kansas than that. Are you a state tourism propagandist? :wink:

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L. Frank Baum was heavily into the new medium of film, and made several short silent Oz films in the 1910s himself. They are all worth watching, though they tend to get strange in parts. The portrayals of people as animals in particular are quite good, better than the 1939 movie. For example, in this one watch for the kangaroo:


Toto sticking his butt into the cat-face chair made my day. Thanks, I needed a good laugh.


I actually just assumed that this post was an April fools joke and that the cartoon would turn out to be some kind of modern retro pastiche in the end.
I assumed this partly because the film looked way too “clean”, but mostly because what are the odds that both Oz adaptations would simultaneously get the idea to use the same special effect color gimmick?
Guess I was mistaken.

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Well, that goes for all the Muppets versions of classic tales. Possible exception for Treasure Island.

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There was also a silent Wizard of Oz movie back in 1925.