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Ever wonder what was happening in Oz before Dorothy Gale and her furry friend Toto crashed into Munchkinland via twister-flung house? That's exactly what Walt Disney Pictures Oz the Great and Powerful reveals. Taking place over 16 years before Dorothy's arrival this 3D fantasy adventure focuses on the charismatic con man who rose to power to become the Wizard of Oz.
Audiences certainly expect to see allusions to Victor Fleming's 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, and won't be disappointed. But as Oscar "Oz" Diggs made his way through poppy fields and over the yellow brick road, I couldn't help but notice director Sam Raimi was pulling from some unexpected sources of inspiration. Below, I break 'em down! (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
#1: The Bible
It was the bite of an apple that gave Eve understanding and got her declared wicked by God, an offense that booted her from the Garden of Eden. In Oz the Great and Powerful, a food porn shot salivates over a radiant green apple that's given to a a hot-tempered and heartbroken young witch. After taking a bite, she too has a new and deeper understanding of the world around her, and in her case physically transforms to become the ghastly, green Wicked Witch of the West, whose ultimately cast out of Emerald City.
#2: George W. Bush
I doubt Raimi intends any kind of political commentary with this one, but as James Franco's Oscar offers a toothy grin and recklessly bestows nicknames to those around him—whether they like it or not—it was easy to spot a nod to our folksy former president, who had a reputation for his casual charm and penchant for peculiar nicknames.
#3: The Dark Knight
Much like Batman, Oscar is not a man of superhuman abilities, but needs to appear as such. To achieve this, both Oscar and Batman demand some mind-boggling gadgets to inspire respect and fear as needed. And both require a brilliant inventor to keep up with their high-flying imaginations.
The Dark Knight gives Bruce Wayne the R&D genius Lucius Fox; Oz the Great and Powerful gives Oscar Diggs a Master Tinker to construct not only the smoke and mirrors effects the Wizard uses in The Wizard of Oz, but also to construct an army of pawns, and a pivotal hot air balloon to perform Oscar's greatest trick yet!
#4: Little Shop of Horrors
Oscar comes across a lot of strange creatures in Oz, but one curious standout was a tribe of sneaking Venus flytraps with headlights for eyes. It's impossible to watch them creep up on Oscar and his cohorts without thinking of Audrey II and his growing and biting buds in Frank Oz's zany movie musical. We know Raimi has a soft spot for horror-comedy, so this allusion totally fits.
#5: Audrey Hepburn
While the fashion influences are all across the board in Raimi's Oz, Mila Kunis dazzles in a dress that seems inspired by this Golden Age ingénue circa Roman Holiday. In this sequence, Kunis is fresh-faced and optimistic, wearing a beautifully detailed gown, with a vivid red wrap and elegantly swept-back hair. She's clearly channeling the ever-innocent Audrey, making what comes next all the more disturbing.