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His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz
His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz
Director: L. Frank Baum
Writer: L. Frank Baum
Cast: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Pierre Couderc, Fred Woodward, Raymond Russell, Arthur Smollet, J. Charles Haydon, Todd Wright, Vivian Reed, Mai Wells, Mildred Harris, Louise Emmons
Synopsis: A wicked king has taken over the Emerald City, and wants his daughter, Princess Gloria to marry the horrid courtier Googly-Goo, though she loves Pon, the Gardener's Boy. The camera follows two farmers placing a Scarecrow upon a pole in a cornfield. Pon rescues a Kansas girl named Dorothy from the evil witch Mombi, whom Princess Gloria has been taken to by King Krewl to freeze her heart so she will no longer love Pon. An Indian princess has a ceremony to bring the Scarecrow to life. Pon rescues the cold-hearted princess and they flee for help, discovering the Scarecrow, who promptly falls in love with the princess, and Button-Bright, a lost boy from America. They come to the castle of the Tin Emperor, Nick Chopper, and after oiling him, he falls in love with Gloria. After a bit of a chase aided by the Sawhorse and the Wizard, Mombi turns Pon into a Kangaroo, and a slough of Fred Woodward's animals battle it out.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Note: In honor of the new "Wizard of Oz" prequel, "Oz: The Great and Powerful", and the remake of "The Wizard of Oz" that set to be released soon, I've taken it upon myself to review every film adaptation that's ever been conceived regarding "The Wizard of Oz"; with the notable exception of TV shows and mini series because there's simply too much of it.
His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz (Full Film)
Witches, Scarecrows and Wizards..Oh my!
L. Frank Baum directs arguably one of the most disappointing silent films about Oz that I've seen thus far. The story seems to be all over the place, as it lacks a lot of focus. One minute, it's a love story. The next it's a classic good vs. evil story. Heck, they even throw in Dorothy Gale (Violet MacMillan) into this film; even though her presence contributes very little to the actual story itself.
In fact, Dorothy is only in one scene in the film, and afterwards she's never referenced to again; which makes her appearance seem pointless at best. However, lets go over the rest of this story first before we delve more into my thoughts about this movie. In the film, the Emerald City is taken over by an evil tyrant named King Krewl (Raymond Russell), who wants his daughter, Princess Gloria (Vivian Reed), to marry Googly-Goo (Arthur Smollet).
Needless to say, this makes the fair princess very unhappy, as she's repulsed by the idea of being forced to marry Googly-Goo. Plus, she's in love with another man named Pon (Todd Wright), who happens to be the gardener's boy. But since he's not royalty, King Krewl forbids his daughter to date him; regardless of her cries saying she loves him so.
Eventually the film shifts to show two farmers planting a scarecrow in the cornfield, and then Pon saves Dorothy from the wicked Witch, Mombi (Mai Wells). Sadly, Dorothy doesn't play a huge role in this film; which makes the introduction of her character kind of pointless. Granted, "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" had plenty of pointless moments too, but this film takes it to a whole other level. For starters, Dorothy is hardly ever mentioned at all during this film, after she's introduced, which makes you tend to wonder why was she important in this story?
Another pointless moment in this story is the appearance of a young Indian girl that does a ceremonial dance to bring the scarecrow to life. It's weird because we never see her do this for the other characters in oz such as the tin man, and wasn't the whole point of Oz that it was a fantasy world unlike our own? Meaning that talking lions, scarecrows and etc could exist? Therefore, why was this Indian girl here? Or even remotely necessary? But then again, I never read any of the books, so perhaps I'm missing something here. However, in context to the film itself, it's never explained or set up that well; which makes it seem pointless.
Along the way, King Krewl hires Mombi's services, and orders her to freeze his daughter's heart, so she won't love Pon anymore. It works, but it causes the princess to lose all her emotions to where she cannot feel love, nor hatred towards anyone. This causes an interesting plot device, as the princess meets all sorts of people in Oz that fall in love with her, but she's unable to return those feelings.
Heck, even the scarecrow falls hopelessly in love with the princess, but it does seem a bit weird considering in the last Oz film, the scarecrow was paired up with patchwork girl, so whatever happened to her? Did they break up or something? Did she die? Or was this taking place before they ever met? After all, she's never mentioned in this movie, even though "Patchwork Girl of Oz" was released a full month before this one, so it does seem a bit odd to say the least.
Anyways, to get back to the story, Pon rescues the now cold hearted Princess, as they discover the scarecrow, who ends up falling in love with Princess Gloria as well. Eventually, our protagonists meet a lost boy from America named Button-Bright ( Mildred Harris), and the tin man, who also falls in love with the princess, after she oils him up. No, not that kind of oiling up...pervs.
Meanwhile, the evil witch searches for the Princess to bring her back to her father by any means necessary, so she can marry Googly-Goo. After a long winded chase scene, Mombi eventually meets Pon, and transforms him into a Kangaroo.
Along the way, the wizard of oz comes to confront the evil witch, and we end up seeing a long drawn out battle sequence, where the scarecrow leads a rebellion to take back the Emerald City from the evil King Krewl. Do they succeed? Or does King Krewl and the evil witch rule the day? I guess readers will have to see the film to find out, but I wouldn't recommend it.
As I mentioned before, the story is all over the place, as it lacks any kind of focus. The concept of the princess' emotions being taken away, and having everyone fall in love with her, even though she can't feel anything in return, is an interesting concept to deal with. But, it's obscured by the fact that most of this film's plot lacks not only any kind of cohesive logic, but it fails to even follow it's own continuity narrative; which makes it that much more confusing to follow, in it's own context.
As for the cinematography and editing of this film, it's poorly done to say the least. Some of the shots are poorly framed throughout the film, and some of the characters are thrown in for no reason whatsoever.
I know some people might argue that I should cut it some slack considering the time frame this film was made, but take in mind, that even Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon" had better cinematography than "His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz", and that film came out a full twelve years before this one ever hit the big screen.
Overall, unless your a huge Oz fan, then I'd stay away from this one. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I saw the film, as it was interesting to watch. However, I wouldn't ever want to see this again, as it's essentially a cluttered mess in itself at a rating of one and a half out of four.