Perhaps the ultimate American travel narrative is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It inspired my own dreams of travel at a young age, when I used to hope for a tornado to whisk me away from the suburbs of Detroit to a magical land like Oz.
Reading the novel again as an adult, I’m struck by how much the power of the book’s strong female protagonist keeps getting neutered by Hollywood. In the 1939 Hollywood movie, Dorothy is played by a delightful yet tremulous Judy Garland, constantly on the verge of tears. Fast forward to today, with Disney’s new release Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco, which takes the focus off L. Frank Baum’s proto-feminist heroine and makes the story all about the guy.