Journey Back to Oz - DVD movie review

From September 26, 2013

I liked this movie as a sequel to the 1939 MGM film “The Wizard of Oz” a lot more than Disney’s shitty “Return to Oz”, and indeed it is considered the official sequel, although I’m not sure who deemed it that. 

Anywho, info about it can be found here: . The movie was released on DVD in 2006 but has since been bought by Dreamworks, who took it off the shelves. It’s hard to find for less than $30, but I did manage to find it on eBay for $9.99. You can also watch it in 13 parts here

The movie, like “Return to Oz”, is a combo adaptation of the second and third Oz books (“The Marvelous Land of Oz” and “Ozma of Oz”). I’m not sure why both Filmation and Disney did this, other than the fact that the character Dorothy isn’t in the second Oz book. But why not just skip the second book and adapt the third book alone? Who knows?
This movie made some interesting changes to the story in the books, namely the all-girl army that takes over the Emerald City is changed to an all-elephant army. And the Saw-Horse is changed to a carousel horse.

Scarecrow’s animation looks like they were trying to emulate Chuck Jones and the elephants look like they were trying to emulate Woolie Reitherman’s elephants (in “The Jungle Book” and “Goliath II”). Also, Oz looks like the background painter(s) was a fan of Eyvind Earle, the guy who painted all the backgrounds in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”. In looking it up, the director of this movie—Hal Sutherland—used to work for Disney and animated on “Sleeping Beauty”, so I may be right in my thinking here...

There’s a nod to MGM, when the Cowardly Lion says that a film producer hired him to roar over his titles.

I noticed Paul Lynde’s voice as the voice of Jack Pumpkin-Head (he also voice Templeton in “Charlotte’s Web” which is really where I know that voice from). I liked the portrayal of the character Jack Pumpkin-Head better in Disney’s “Return to Oz”.


Having Judy Garland’s real daughter, Liza Minnelli, as Dorothy is a great idea and she sings well.
The first song, “Faraway Land”, is a pretty good counterpart to “Over the Rainbow”, thought it’s impossible for any song to come close to the best film song in history (according to the AFI)
I liked Mombi’s crow.
I liked the strong arm chair.
“Keep a Happy Thought” is also a good song.
I liked the design of Glinda the Good Witch.
I really liked the sequence of Dorothy’s silhouette dancing around while Glinda the Good Witch sings.
The movie has a good message: At one point, Dorothy says: “If we have faith in ourselves, we have some of the greatest magic of all.”

The animation looks just like you’d expect from an underfunded 1970s TV cartoon, which is terrible. It’s slow, stilted, repeated, very little inbetweening, etc.
There’s some reused animation, like when the elephant army is marching to the Emerald City. They try to hide the fact by flipping the image, but you can easily tell.
Many of the songs are slow and plodding and not very good, like signpost’s song, wooden-head’s song, and “As Almost Anyone Knows” (Scarecrow’s/Tin Woodman/Cowardly Lion’s song)
The elephant trumpeting sound is repeated to a ridiculous and extremely annoying degree during the sacking of Emerald City.