Origins – The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West, highest ranking female villain, as well as one of The Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. Wicked Witch Originally, she was merely the more well known antagonist of L. Frank Baum’s, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Despite never really being mentioned again after her death in book one. The Wicked Witch is a character that continues to evolve and challenges us all to question the true definition of Wicked.

In illustrations by  W. W. Denslow for Baum’s book, she is depicted as an elderly rotund hag with three pigtails, Baum in the book stated that she only had one eye, but that it “was as powerful as a telescope”, enabling the witch to see what was happening in her kingdom from her castle windows. Illustrator Paul Granger, placed her eye in the center of her forehead, as a cyclops. Usually, she is shown wearing an eye patch, however some illustrations and in all but one film adaptations, she is incorrectly shown with two eyes.

In all versions the Wicked Witch is a force to be reckoned with containing immense power, however, in the character’s infancy before cinematic license took over, most of her power resided in the creatures she controls.  It is commonly accepted that she had a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a flock of crows and an army of Winkies. Of her magical tools she owned an umbrella; instead of a broom, which she uses on one occasion to strike Dorothy’s dog Toto. She also wields the enchanted Golden Cap, which gave her control over the flying monkeys.

1939  wizard of oz wicked witchIn most variations of the story The Wicked Witch of the West is defeated after Dorothy, throws a bucket of water on her.  L. Frank Baum never explained why that’s what destroyed her but it is a belief that water has purifying properties against evil, commonly accepted in most religions.

In Baum’s creation she is merely referred to as the Wicked Witch, however in adaptations and recreations the character has been known by many other names. She was known as Bastinda in the 1939 novel The Wizard of the Emerald City, a name that was borrowed for March Laumer’s Oz books and in the 2005 novel The Emerald Wand of Oz.  She is identified as Elphaba in Gregory Maguire’s best-seller Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and in it’s musical adaptation as well. halloween-costume-wicked-1024x681The name Elphaba is tribute to author of the original Witch L. Frank Baum. Unlike its theatrical predecessor and any of Baum’s writings,  Maguire’s novel is not intended for children, and contains profanity, sexual content and violent imagery.

In film, popularity for the Wicked Witch ebbed and flowed, she was featured in the 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, known as “Momba the Witch”. In, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914)  she is depicted correctly as a one -eyed villain. Margaret Hamilton, made sure everyone remembered the witch in the 1939 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. With her famous line “I’ll get you my pretty, and that little dog too.”  In this version she is sister to the Wicked Witch of the East and sees Dorothy’s accidental homicide as a reason for revenge.

Hamilton reprised the role for Sesame Street, in 1976 but was poorly received by parents of frightened young children. She also appeared in The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976), and reprised her role several times on stage, most notably at the St. Louis Municipal Opera. Hamilton’s final appearance was on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood where she explained to the children how she was able to be turned into the witch and that it was all make believe.

Evillene-Wicked-Witch-West popsugarIn the 70’s the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz was given a groovy revamp and released as the hit musical The Wiz, the all – star cast featured, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Mabel King, as Evillene, the new Wicked Witch of the West both on screen and on Broadway. In the Wiz, King’s Wicked Witch is the sister of Addaperle (Miss One in the film version), Glinda, and Evermean, the other three witches of Oz.

She runs a sweatshop under Yankee Stadium with the slogan “Manufacturers and Exporters of Sweat” and extracts it from the Winkies, the Crows, the Poppy Girls, and the Subway Peddler. Her magic creates evil growing dolls sent by the Subway Peddler, Fighting Trees, and the wolves who in this version are actually sentient carnivorous trash cans, her lair is the Subway system. Her flying monkeys are a biker gang and she is defeated when Dorothy, played by Diana Ross, sets off the sprinklers.

Elphaba was reprised and played by actress Idina Menzel, for the 2003 musical loosely based on Maguire’s adaptation of the story. The Wicked Witch underwent one more  transformation in the 2013 Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful, played this time by Mila Kunis.

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OUAT’s Dark Swan is Taking Over Summer!!!

DarkEmmaSeason5posterSeason 4 of Once Upon A Time was one that had us begging for Fall. Since its inception, OUAT has relied on Emma Swan as the savior, the shining light in Storybrooke. Last season, writers shook things up by letting us know that, that was not set in stone. All season she was tested; her faith in parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, shaken and she even murdered Cruella  Deville “unintentionally”. Through it all Emma found her way to stay on the side of goodness and we were all still counting on Emma’s shining light.

Things took a twist however, when Rumpelstiltskin partnering with The Author in a weird attempt at rewriting everyone’s stories, gave the villains a happy ending. The villains were still villains even in this reverse world and Henry became the new author, after Rumpelstiltskin  sacrificed Regina to keep his fake new life. Rumpelstiltskin; once back in Storybrooke, still a villain and dying of a cancer caused by his blackened heart, was hanging on by a thread. Meaning soon  everyone in Storybrooke would be at the mercy of  The Dark One, untethered to a human soul. Apprentice Saves Rumple

The apprentice; newly released from the cosmic sorcerers hat, attempts to banish the darkness where he’d been imprisoned all season. Unfortunately, the darkness is too strong and unconstrained by the hat latches itself to the Apprentice,  Emma uses her powers to free The Apprentice but releases the dark ooze into the night. The Apprentice, suggests they find The Wizard, as he attached the darkness to The Dark One dagger in the first place. As the group heads to regroup and plan next seasons adventure however, the darkness finds them.
Regina, who had earlier in the season stated she next to Rumple had the greatest potential for evil fell prey to it’s cyclone of death.EmmasavesRegina As it began to snuff out what little light Regina had in her to begin with, Emma in true savior form, sacrificed herself pushing  Regina out of the way and becoming the dark one herself. Season 5, promises to be one of the best yet, with dark Emma wreaking havoc as her friends head to Camelot, in search of Merlin; the aforementioned Sorcerer, who has intricate knowledge of the dark ooze currently  residing in Emma.

The cast from Camelot so far includes a new insipid spin on King Arthur, a manipulative and dangerous Guinevere, the introduction of Sir Percival and the return of dear Lancelot whom I hope is alive in either MistHaven (enchanted forest) or Storybrooke (Main). To round them out we have our all knowing Sorcerer Merlin, who will be helping our Storybrooke crew played by Elliot Knight, a young black actor from the UK. You may have seen Elliot in his tv show Sinbad, but you may have also seen him on ABC’s hit show How To Get Away With Murder. We’ll also meet princess Merida from Brave and to round out the family reunions sources for the show hinted at bringing on Rumpelstiltskin’s mom  but lied to us and instead will be introducing Lily’s father for season 5.

dark-savior

More on #DarkSwan and the rest of the cast in Season 5 of ONCE UPON A TIME in part II of this article, coming next week!!

We are Wicked in July!!!

wickedThis month we’re reading Wicked, written by author Gregory Maguire. It follows the life and historical demise of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. The story is set in the a new version of Oz far from the warm and fuzzy rendition we’re used to. Originally published in 1995, the book is now a full series. I had only heard of the musical first. As a student at a performing arts school, “Defy Gravity” and Idina Menzel were my only references to the character of “Elfaba”. That being said i must now admit i have also never seen the full musical but I have captured scenes of it off on Youtube.

The series has been on my To Read list since 2005, and finally a full decade later I canIdina-Wicked-2 say i’ve cracked the spine of a borrowed copy from a co-worker. I will be adding the musical to my must watch list but for now let’s get to the book. “Wicked”, is nothing like it’s L. Frank Bean’s, “Wizard of Oz” and is in fact more like a prequel to the adventure of Dorothy and Friends. Our protagonist is, Elfaba the so-called “Wicked” witch in a time of civil unrest in Oz. The heroes we love, like Glinda and even the Wizard are given darker overturns as the novel challenges you to pick a side.

The opening scene brings us in the midst of a conversation between Dorothy and friends on their familiar voyage through the woods during “The Wizard of Oz”. Elfaba is concealed in a tree spying as they quite explicitly gossip about her origins. This mature adaptation of a childhood classic definitely lays the foundations for readers to quickly abandon memories of Judy Garland cradling her frightened Cairn Terrier , (yes that’s the specific breed of dog TOTO was.) and places you in the ruby red slippers of one of fiction’s greatest villains.

Wicked Musical
For more on the Wicked Witch of the West, check out the full article on our Origins blog!