Glinda The Good Witch - Films - The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz, Glinda is the Good Witch of the North, not the South as in the book. She is played in the film by Billie Burke. Glinda performs the functions of not only the novel's Good Witch of the North and Good Witch of the South, but also the novel's Queen of Field Mice, by being the one who welcomes Dorothy to Oz, sends her "off to see the Wizard," and orchestrates her rescue from the deadly poppy field in addition to revealing the secret to going back home.

Combining L. Frank Baum's original good witches of the North and of the South in the character of Glinda seems to be an attempt to make Baum's original story more compact, as befits an MGM film musical. A single good witch and a single wicked witch allows for more cohesive and cogent storytelling in a family-entertainment movie that is just over 100 minutes long.

Two good witches would have been superfluous in a movie of that type at best, and would not have contributed to the drama and to Dorothy's personal journey and character growth in any meaningful way, which is what the filmmakers were interested in portraying. In an epic novel like Baum's original, in which Oz is not a dream representing Dorothy's unsolved inner conflicts but rather an actual country in which Dorothy is trapped for an extended period of real time, having two good witches is dramatically effective.

It must be stressed, however, that even in Baum's original Oz book series, Glinda is the only "good witch" in Oz of any consequence. The older-looking Good Witch of the North makes her only speaking appearance towards the beginning of Baum's first book, re-appearing only as one of the numerous guests at Ozma's birthday celebrations in the fifth book, after which she is not mentioned again until the books written by Ruth Plumly Thompson after Baum's death. From the 7th book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz onwards, Baum goes so far as to say that "Glinda and the Wizard" are the "only" ones authorized to practice magic in Oz by Queen Ozma; it is not clear whether he forgot about the Good Witch of the North, or had written her character out of the series.

Glinda evolved into the all-knowing and only prominent "good" sorceress in founder L. Frank Baum's version of Oz, long before she was portrayed that way in the 1939 MGM film; although Baum's exceedingly refined and no-nonsense type Glinda quite different from the quirky and bubbly Glinda embodied by Billie Burke in the movie musical.

The MGM movie incarnation of the "Good Witch" knew the powers of the Magic Shoes, but withheld this information from Dorothy at the beginning, in order to facilitate her psychological and emotional maturity, which suggests that Billie Burke's Glinda is not as superficial as she appears to be at first glance, and that her flighty persona conceals her true depth and adult wisdom.

She is the only primary Oz character not to have a counterpart in the sepia-tones of Kansas, suggesting that she might represent the untapped powers of beauty and wisdom in young Dorothy.

In the original novel, of course, the unnamed Good Witch of the North genuinely believed that the Wizard of Oz was the only entity powerful enough to send Dorothy back home to Kansas, while Glinda the Good Witch (later "Sorceress") of the South does not claim to be similarly powerful until the sixth book, The Emerald City of Oz, by which point in time she creates "The Great Book of Records," which chronicles everything that takes place inside as well as outside Oz.

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Famous quotes containing the word wizard:

    The obvious parallels between Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz have frequently been noted: in both there is the orphan hero who is raised on a farm by an aunt and uncle and yearns to escape to adventure. Obi-wan Kenobi resembles the Wizard; the loyal, plucky little robot R2D2 is Toto; C3PO is the Tin Man; and Chewbacca is the Cowardly Lion. Darth Vader replaces the Wicked Witch: this is a patriarchy rather than a matriarchy.
    Andrew Gordon, U.S. educator, critic. “The Inescapable Family in American Science Fiction and Fantasy Films,” Journal of Popular Film and Television (Summer 1992)