Movies Made Better: Oz, The Great & Powerful

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Glinda the Good Witch was in a lot of trouble.

Her father was dead. That was bad enough by itself—Glinda’s father was a good man and she loved him dearly—but it was especially traumatic because he was murdered. Worse still, the citizens of the Emerald City believed that Glinda was his killer.

Glinda’s father had been the King of Oz, so his death was more than a crime: it was a political upheaval. In the chaos following his death, a cruel and manipulative witch named Evanora took control of the city. Evanora had enough power and cunning to not only murder the King and get away with it, but to pin the blame on his daughter.

But Evanora’s deceptions were constrained to the elite of the Emerald City, a vicious group of people, many of whom were already under Evanora’s sway before her act of regicide. Throughout the rest of Oz, Glinda’s guilt was a subject of much debate, and among a group of her most passionate followers, her innocence was never in doubt. So when Glinda fled from the city to a distant, rural area in the southern realm of Oz, she found a welcoming home.

If her father had been someone else, Glinda would have left it at that. He was an understanding man who wouldn’t have wanted her to risk her life just for the sake of clearing her name in the eyes of a foolish few. But he was the King, and he had no heir–for Glinda had always found the attentions of men less important than the betterment of the kingdom. In a less dramatic scenario, she would have been given temporary, semi-official control of Oz… but Evanora had fixed it so that she and her sister Theodra now ruled over the land. For her part, Theodora was naïve enough to believe that Glinda was guilty and she followed her sister’s lead reluctantly.

It wasn’t right and the people of Oz knew it wasn’t right. Evanora was as cruel of a ruler as anyone would have guessed and then some. The rest of the kingdom withered and died while those inside the Emerald City grew fat and rich. Unrest spread throughout the lands. Those who had been undecided about Glinda’s guilt now had all the proof they needed of Evanora’s treachery. The people began to speak of a revolution.

Glinda would have loved more than anything to lead the people—her people—in battle against Evanora. But she knew this could never be. Her reputation was too tainted by Evanora’s accusations: a revolution lead by her might look like an act of bloodthirsty revenge. Besides, the citizens of Oz would never accept a witch as a general.

Then the rumors began to spread of a prophecy. It had been foretold that a great Wizard would come to the land of Oz and free the people from their tyrannical ruler.

At first, Glinda rolled her eyes at this talk: if such a prophecy did exist, she had never heard it before now. And wasn’t it convenient that it was a man destined to free the kingdom?

But she changed her tune after Finley arrived. Finley, a flying monkey, was a rogue member of Evanora’s army. Sickened by her wicked ways, he had risked life and limb to bring Glinda a single message: the Wizard was real, and he had arrived in the Emerald City just days before.

Glinda was shocked, but she didn’t waste a moment. Accompanied only by Finley, she disguised herself and set off on a dangerous journey through the Dark Forest and across the occupied plains of Oz, where she met the China Girl, a victim of Evanora’s armies. Against all odds, the group of three made it into the Emerald City and attained an audience with the Wizard.

Glinda saw right away that the Wizard was a fraud, his magic nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors illusion that Evanora would gladly exploit to keep her people in line. The Wizard wasn’t without his flashes of intellect—he had already constructed a makeshift projector out of discarded materials—but he was hopelessly out of his element in the world of Oz, swept away by Evanora’s promises of power and riches. He was more than satisfied to spend his days lounging around the palace, being adored by the people and flirting with sweet Theodora.

But the people needed an icon, someone to rally behind. The Wizard was Glinda’s only hope to unite her followers and lead the revolution. Unfortunately, that meant kidnapping him and stealing him away from Evanora. It was a narrow escape, followed by an exciting chase full of near-misses and the threat of death… but they made it.

Once she had the “Wizard”–who was actually a con-man from Kansas named Oscar Diggs–back at her hideout, everything clicked into place. It took a little work to convince him that Glinda wasn’t the evil witch Evanora had made her out to be, but he eventually came around and agreed to help the cause.

Harder trials still lay before them: Theodora had fallen in love with the amorous wizard, and Evanora would manipulate her sister’s sorrow into rage and turn her into a stronger ally. The battle for the Emerald City would be a struggle for the ages, but with strength of her people and some trickery from the Wizard, Glinda would finally confront her adversary, avenging her father’s murder and deposing the usurper from the throne.

Of course, in the end, the Wizard would rule over Oz. He would gladly take Glinda’s council, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to share credit for the people’s salvation.

Glinda wouldn’t mind. While the Wizard grew older and more isolated, hidden behind the walls of the Emerald City, Glinda, accompanied by new friends Finley and the China Girl, could continue her work of helping the people. She was a Good Witch, after all, and she would take real magic over power any day.

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