Why The Wizard of Oz needs a remake, and how to make it great?

The cast of The Wizard of Oz (Image via MGM)
The cast of The Wizard of Oz (Image via MGM)

Oz: The Great and Powerful, please move out of the way. Classic movies have become a staple in American cinema and warm the hearts and tantalize viewers' minds everywhere.

However, one film has stayed in the heads of people, young and old, rent-free. The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939 under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based upon the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.


The story sees a young girl from Kansas named Dorothy Gale who lives with her Aunt Emily and Uncle Henry until one day she is swept away by a treacherous cyclone that deposits her in the magical land of Oz. From there, she meets a scarecrow, a tinman and a cowardly lion.

"We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto." ~ Dorothy 'The Wizard of Oz'

Here is why this beloved classic needs a proper remake and here is a blueprint of how to make it truly great.

Note: This article reflects the author’s views.

The 'Oz' remake, and how to please audiences

1) Over 80 years may bring a new perspective

The Emerald City (Image via MGM)
The Emerald City (Image via MGM)

Understandably, it is a timeless classic. However, since it has been over eighty years since the films’ release, it may be time for a much-needed touch-up and upgrade for a new generation.

There have been many spin-offs, sequels and a James Franco prequel, but there has never been a blockbuster, live-action, feature-length film distributed by a big-name studio behind the film, quite possibly Disney.

Of course, nothing can ever replace the 1939 marvel, but it would be marvelous to see a director give their take on the classic tale.

2) Dorothy’s parents and origins

Judy Garland, as Dorothy Gale (Image via MGM)
Judy Garland, as Dorothy Gale (Image via MGM)

Something that needs to be addressed in an Oz remake is the mystery behind Dorothy’s parents. In the 1939 film, her parents are never even mentioned, which leaves the audience confused about who her real biological family is.

Aunt Em and Uncle Henry may be related to Dorothy by blood, but her birth parents and origins are left blurred. The potential remake could easily shed some light on this aspect and expand on the character for more dramatic effect. It could easily be a remake worthy of its predecessor.

3) Expanding the characters

The cast of The Wizard of Oz (Image via MGM)
The cast of The Wizard of Oz (Image via MGM)

Speaking of expanding the characters in the original film, while Dorothy's supporting characters, the lion, scarecrow, and tinman, are incredible characters that set the standard for likeable characters in cinema, they seem shallow. Moreover, audiences only get a dusting of who they indeed were before the film's events.

One way to remedy this would be to shed more light on Dorothy's friends via flashbacks, exposition, and more subtle references to their past.

4) The looks of the characters

Margaret Hamilton, as the Wicked Witch (Image via MGM)
Margaret Hamilton, as the Wicked Witch (Image via MGM)

Nowadays, doing a remake of The Wizard of Oz would require CGI. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it could be a bad thing. It worked for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and those movies are, for the most part, still beloved by a large fanbase. While the lion is hilarious in the original film, his costume, at this point, is outdated and laughable. Using a CGI lion and computer-animated flying monkeys would only make sense.

Conceivably, the landscapes could be shot on location with CG enhancements, while the Scarecrow and Tinman could remain mostly the same with practical costume and makeup. Another thing that could be made différent is the look of the witch.

Of course, Margaret Hamilton gives a frightening performance as the Wicked Witch of the West, akin to the Green Goblin, but in the book, she had an eye patch while the munchkins had différent designs. Changing some of the looks might be more book-accurate to update their designs for a more L. Frank Baum-accurate or terrifying look.

5) Unexplored details in the book

Scarecrow, Tinman, Dorothy and Lion (Image via MGM)
Scarecrow, Tinman, Dorothy and Lion (Image via MGM)

Again, the film is a classic family treat that all ages can enjoy. However, it doesn't follow the book accurately and leaves details and characters out. For example, in the poppy field, instead of Glinda saving the team from a sleeping spell from the Wicked Witch, a group of field mice give the group the antidote to the curse.

The group was also attacked by a slew of Kalidahs, monsters with heads of tigers and bodies of bears. Saying that aloud will make audiences understand where the saying "lions and tigers and bears" came from.

The book also details the witch's golden cap, which summoned the flying monkeys, but the cap was only briefly seen. Hopefully, any future remake will justify these discrepancies while doing justice to the 1939 film.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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