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posted by martyb on Sunday May 17 2020, @06:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the following-the-yellow-brick-road dept.

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' Turns 120:

Playwright, chicken farmer and children's book author L. Frank Baum published "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" 120 years ago Sunday. The book would sell out its first run of 10,000 copies in eight months and go on to sell a total of 3 million copies before it fell into the public domain in 1956.

Baum would try his hand at other children's books but returned to his Oz characters time and time again, adapting them for a stage production in 1902 that ran for a while on Broadway and toured the country. Baum would write a total of 14 Oz novels, but his biggest success – a 1939 movie version – would come long after his death.

Baum's intent was to create a fairy tale along the lines of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Baum also admired the character of Alice in Lewis Carroll's work and chose a similar young girl to be his fictional hero.

[...] A portion of the success of the book has been attributed to Baum's illustrator, W.W. Denslow, who he worked with closely on the project. Denslow, in fact, was given partial ownership of the copyright of the book. This caused problems later when Denslow and Baum had a falling out while working on the 1902 stage adaptation.

The most popular adaptation of Baum's first Oz book was the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland.

Wikipedia has many more details on the story and the film.

[Aside: I had heard only the land of Oz was filmed in Technicolor because it was so much more costly than black and white. I've been unable to corroborate. Are there any Soylentils here who can confirm or deny it? --Ed.]


Original Submission

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Public Domain Day in the USA: Works from 1925 are Open to All! 87 comments

Works from 1925 are now open to all! The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School's blog covers the famous works which rise to the public domain on January 1st, 2021.

On January 1, 2021, copyrighted works from 1925 will enter the US public domain,1 where they will be free for all to use and build upon. These works include books such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, and Franz Kafka’s The Trial (in the original German), silent films featuring Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, and music ranging from the jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown to songs by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, W.C. Handy, and Fats Waller.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessley into the past."
F. Scott Fitsgerald, The Great Gatsby

This is not just the famous last line from The Great Gatsby. It also encapsulates what the public domain is all about. A culture is a continuing conversation between present and past. On Public Domain Day, we all have a “green light,” in keeping with the Gatsby theme, to use one more year of that rich cultural past, without permission or fee.

1925 was a good year for music. Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton were some of those active then. Though some consider it the best year so far for great books and many classics were published then, among them is the original German version of the all too relevant The Trial by Franz Kafka.

Previously:
(2020) Internet Archive Files Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Publisher Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
(2020) Internet Archive Ends “Emergency Library” Early to Appease Publishers
(2020) Project Gutenberg Public Domain Library Blocked in Italy for Copyright Infringement
(2020) ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ Turns 120
(2020) University Libraries Offer Online "Lending" of Scanned In-Copyright Books
(2019) The House Votes in Favor of Disastrous Copyright Bill


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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:19PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:19PM (#995438)

    only the land of Oz was filmed in Technicolor because it was so much more costly than black and white

    IIRC, the land of Oz dominates the screen time of the total film. Kansas being black and white would seem to be more of an artistic statement, if they saved a few bucks along the way, we can only hope that they passed them along to Buddy Ebsen in compensation for his injuries from the Tin Man makeup.

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by mcgrew on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:20PM (1 child)

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:20PM (#995439) Homepage Journal

    To be fair, almost everyone was a chicken farmer in 1900 that didn't live in a city, and even some who did.

    As to color film, it was a whole lot more expensive than black and white, especially when that movie came out, but having Kansas in black and white and Oz in color was an artistic decision. If it had been for monetary considerations the whole movie would have been monochrome.

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:02PM (#995475)

      You are probably right with the artistic decision. But it sure did not hurt. Remember that movie was the 'low budget B plan'. If Gone with the Wind failed this would at least keep MGM alive. Lucky for them they both did decently.

  • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:22PM (5 children)

    by gtomorrow (2230) on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:22PM (#995440) Journal

    God, I loved those books when I was a kid! Talk about spurring the imagination! I remember being at the local library (hey, remember those?) spending hours reading them. I think I got through four of the (never-ending) series.

    Do they still broadcast the film around Easter time? I loved that movie too.

    Happy Birthday, Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

    • (Score: 2) by black6host on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:40PM

      by black6host (3827) on Sunday May 17 2020, @07:40PM (#995445) Journal

      I read some of the books as well when I was a kid and loved them! I still remember them from time to time. That was quite a while ago and about the only thing I can remember now, off the top of my head, are some characters who were in jars, and subject to breakage. Kind of like canning I guess, I can't remember if it was mason jars or not. No guarantees my recollection is accurate but I do remember the books fondly.

    • (Score: 2) by deadstick on Sunday May 17 2020, @09:41PM (2 children)

      by deadstick (5110) on Sunday May 17 2020, @09:41PM (#995472)

      I loved the books as a kid too -- still have them seventy years later. I was an early reader who went from a Dagwood comic strip to Dr. Seuss's first book to the Oz books by age 7, and was I hot to see Wizard when it came to town...

      Until I saw the goddamn thing. They'd turned that gripping adventure story into a brainless, frothy musical, and tacked on a phony-baloney "It was all a dream" ending. My mom explained sadly that this is what Hollywood does to literature.

      Fast forward to 1985 and along came Return to Oz, and it was magnificent. I was a kid again, ripping my way through that suspenseful scene with the figurines...the critics savaged it because it wasn't a brainless musical.

      Feh.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:18PM (#995479)

        Yeah, sometimes I read kids' books of the late 19th and early-mid 20th century, and it's astounding how mortality, failure, risk, even rape and physical abuse, were in the stories. Kids' books of today are cotton candy. I would rather my kids think about how the horse feels when it's whipped, how the ant stores for the winter while the grasshopper starves, how the rabbits feel when the warren is gassed, and how the fleeing slaves had to hide, than about how the happy clouds and happy trees had a happy tea party.

        I guess a lot of it is that kids today have never seen someone kill pluck and dress a bird for dinner, or clean a fish, or so on. It's still weird.

        Thanks for the "Return to Oz" tip, I'll put it in our queue. Appreciate it, have a great day!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:57AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:57AM (#995547)

        Worked Wizard as stage crew in high school--c.1970. We had a mechanically minded set designer and built a bridge that rotated, central pivot and small rubber tire wheel drove it around, powered by a 3-phase reversing motor. Even made our own slip rings from PVC, copper pipe rings and heavy copper braid. All through rehearsals (and shows) the actor would walk on to the covered bridge, lighting crew on stage-right would flip the switch and spin it 180 degrees. But on the last night of the run I guess the actor pissed someone off and he got about 5 times around, each way, they also left all the lights on, so when the bridge faced the audience end-on, you could see the actor trying to brace himself against the 1x4 framework that supported the covered bridge (painted canvas). That actor stumbled off the bridge extremely dizzy!

        Fast forward to about 10 years ago, we bought our first large flat screen TV and one of the first things we happened to see was a re-run of the original movie. Some friends were over, we all commented on how cheap and tacky some of the sets and costumes looked in hi-res. All those years of fuzzy NTSC left room for the imagination to filter/sharpen the image.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by driverless on Monday May 18 2020, @12:26AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday May 18 2020, @12:26AM (#995532)

      Playwright, chicken farmer and children's book author L. Frank Baum published "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" 120 years ago Sunday. The book would sell out its first run of 10,000 copies in eight months and go on to sell a total of 3 million copies before it fell into the public domain in 1956.

      You're lucky it was written before the Mickey Mouse event horizon. If he'd written it after 1928 it'd never get into the public domain.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @08:59PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @08:59PM (#995460)

    Gender essentialist challenge mode: is "Ozma" really a woman, or does Tip fantasize quietly and coldly behind a cup of tea about raping Dorothy and her little dog too?

    Sociology round: Any evidence of moral outrage in 1904 when The Marvelous Land of Oz was published? It is not difficult to imagine that publishing a children's story like that in 2020 would make the alt-right and their fellow-travelers go ballistic. If there was no outrage in 1904, how do we explain this?

    • (Score: 1) by RandomFactor on Sunday May 17 2020, @09:21PM (3 children)

      by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 17 2020, @09:21PM (#995466) Journal

      I always heard it was a political allegory around monetary policy.

      The yellow brick road was the gold standard.
      The originally silver slippers the demonetization of silver.
      The wicked witch was 'liquidated'
      etc.

      --
      В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:48PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:48PM (#995490)

        Where does Mombi, the Shaggy Man, Tik-Tok, and the Nome King fit in with this interpretation?

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by RandomFactor on Monday May 18 2020, @12:11AM (1 child)

          by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 18 2020, @12:11AM (#995523) Journal

          The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, perhaps America's favorite children's story, is also an informed comment on the battle over free silver in the 1890s. The characters in the story represent real figures such as William Jennings Bryan. This paper interprets the allegory for economists and economic historians, illuminating a number of elements left unexplained by critics concerned with the politics of the allegory. It also reexamines Bryan and the case for free silver. Far from being monetary cranks, the advocates of free silver had a strong argument on both theoretical and empirical grounds.

          The "Wizard of Oz" as a Monetary Allegory
          Published by: The University of Chicago Press
          https://www.jstor.org/stable/2937766 [jstor.org]

          PDF link [rutgers.edu]

          --
          В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @04:05PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @04:05PM (#995889)

            Where does the Shaggy Man, Mombi, the Nome King, Tik-Tok and perhaps the Wheelers fit in with this interpretation?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:13AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:13AM (#995524)

      Gender essentialist challenge mode

      The anti-bullshit heuristics are screaming at me not to continue but..........

      "Ozma" really a woman, or does Tip fantasize quietly and coldly behind a cup of tea about raping Dorothy and her little dog too?

      Man, for some people trannies are just literally everywhere. Just waiting, quietly sipping tea, ready so to spring out at any moment and rape you! You, and you're little dog too! That's what they do you know, wait quietly, in their fantastic disguises, barely holding back the urge to frantically sodomize every small girl and dog within reach. I'm sold. We can't let these people in public. I want to enjoy some cherry pie with my little wiener dog out in public without the fear of a retard-strong 6'1" trannie bending me over for a dry dock. Just not American!

      Sorry. I gotcha. The butthole must be protected. The struggle is real.

      Sociology round: Any evidence of moral outrage in 1904 when The Marvelous Land of Oz was published?

      That's like asking if there was any moral outrage to SpongeBob Squarepants : Adventures in Bikini Bottom. Having seen quite a few episodes, I would need to be told to look for the moral outrage somewhere. Probably in the nether regions of YouTube's batshit crazy bazaar of channels catering to any particular outrage one might need to masturbate to completion.

      It is not difficult to imagine that publishing a children's story like that in 2020 would make the alt-right and their fellow-travelers go ballistic.

      Oh, but it is. What are the fellow-travelers of the alt-right in the first place, and umm, yeah, what does that have to do with Oz again? It's a silly story of a girl with a dog that fights a witch. While I might not be able to imagine it, I'm well are of the phenomenon of apophenia. Which in this case is slightly modified to refer to that which an alt-right (or fellow-traveler) can hallucinate as reality, while having their heads up their own asses.

      If there was no outrage in 1904, how do we explain this?

      Quantifiable ways, through detailed analysis of your medications and dosages.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @10:15PM (#995478)

    Baum set out to create a uniquely American fairy tale, and he did. The series of books arguably makes it the Harry Potter of its day, although I'm not aware of kids waiting in line for new releases at the bookstores. I do seem to recall that it triggered the same sort of moral panic that HP did (good witches? That's satanic!), but I'm sorry I don't have a source for that.

    It seems like there's a roughly 40 year cycle that makes you think of Oz, so celebrating 120 years is appropriate. The movie we all know came out about 40 years after the first book. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon came out a bit less than 40 years after the movie, but it ties in to a fun conspiracy about the songs syncing up with the film. Watch it on YouTube if they haven't pulled it down due to copyright. It's a bit murkier to come up with an association for our time, but I recall watching the house rise and fall due to the tornado with Pink Floyd in the background, thinking that the rising and falling of the house synced up well with the financial crisis that was ongoing--once again, the 40 years thing isn't precise, and now we've got this virus but it's hard to find any synchronicity with Oz there.

    The slippers were silver in the book. Many people have spun theories around the idea that Baum was coding messages about monetary struggles taking place around the time the book was written--silver for the slippers, the yellow brick road for gold bugs, and Emerald City for paper money (greenbacks). AFAIK, Baum disavowed any such intent.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @02:14AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @02:14AM (#995576)

    I wonder why nobody tried to adapt them.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @02:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @02:28AM (#995582)

      They did.

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