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Friday, May 29, 2015

Return To Oz (1985)

Six months after returning to Kansas from the land of Oz, young Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) is troubled and can't sleep. Her Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) takes her to a dubious doctor (Nicol Williamson) who specializes in electric healing in the hopes he can help. But Dorothy escapes with the help of another young girl (Emma Ridley) during a thunderstorm and soon finds herself back in Oz. Loosely based on the L. Frank Baum books, MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ and OZMA OF OZ, the film was not a success at the box office. Perhaps audiences (and critics) were expecting a bright cheerful film like the 1939 classic instead of this dark, unsettling yet touching fantasy. Closer to the Baum books than the MGM musical film, this is a wonderful film that is slowly but surely getting the recognition it deserves. It's disturbing undercurrent makes it unsuitable for young children (when I showed it to my 6 year old nephew many years ago, he was quite upset). But I maintain that it is a poignant look at childhood fears. Expertly directed by Walter Murch (whose only feature film this is) with a highly effective score by David Shire. With Jean Marsh, Matt Clark and Sophie Ward.

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