Archive for L Frank Baum

Pay no attention to that Mabuse behind the curtain

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2021 by dcairns

I half-jokingly pondered the other day if Professor Baum, the Mabuse substitute in THE TESTAMENT OF DR MABUSE, was named after L. Frank Baum, but, you know, the more I think about it…

Oz gets everywhere. Mabuse appears as a big floating head at one point in DER SPIELER — of course the Victor Fleming MGM film hadn’t been made yet (it’s only six years in the future, but feels like a whole other eon of filmmaking) — but the Baum book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, existed, and when Dorothy and her friends visit the wizard in that, he appears differently to each of them. Shades of RASHOMON. But Dorothy sees him as a giant head.

Baum is surrounded by heads in his study — African masks and actual deformed skulls, some of unusual size.

And of course, there’s a man behind the curtain. That’s what Baum is, effectively. The petty human disguising himself as a big head. Oh, but Baum is also a partial anagram of Mabuse. Probably that’s it. He’s an Alucardian alias. But any good character name ought to have at least two possible rationales behind it.

Still, interested to hear if any Mabuseians out there in the dark can see any more possible connections, apart from the flying monkeys of course.

Magic Brains

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 1, 2018 by dcairns

Above: is this the original FLOATING HEAD OF DEATH? She haunts my dreams, and those of Cinema itself. Arthur Frain from ZARDOZ agrees with me, and Virginia Madsen at the start of DUNE supports me fully.

I get deeper into the world of Oz over at The Forgotten this week, in which I’m impressed by the sophistication and imagination of L. Frank Baum’s three 1914 productions, concentrating my attention on THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ.

Contains surprise camera moves, cameos by non-acting movie luminaries, a Woozy, and MAGIC BRAINS.

The Oz Trial

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by dcairns

Before the law, there stands a guard.

A man comes from the country, begging admittance to the law.

But the guard cannot admit him. May he hope to enter at a later time? “That is possible,” says the guard.

The man tries to peer through the entrance. He’d been taught that the law was to be accessible to every man. “Do not attempt to enter without my permission”, says the guard. “I am very powerful. Yet I am the least of all the guards. From hall to hall, door after door, each guard is more powerful than the last.”

By the guard’s permission, the man sits by the side of the door, and there he waits. For years, he waits. Everything he has, he gives away in the hope of bribing the guard, who never fails to say to him “I take what you give me only so that you will not feel that you left something undone.”

Keeping his watch during the long years, the man has come to know even the fleas on the guard’s fur collar. Growing childish in old age, he begs the fleas to persuade the guard to change his mind and allow him to enter. His sight has dimmed, but in the darkness he perceives a radiance streaming immortally from the door of the law.

And now, before he dies, all he’s experienced condenses into one question, a question he’s never asked. He beckons the guard. Says the guard, “You are insatiable! What is it now?” Says the man, “Every man strives to attain the law. How is it then that in all these years, no one else has ever come here, seeking admittance?”

His hearing has failed, so the guard yells into his ear. “Nobody else but you could ever have obtained admittance. No one else could enter this door! This door was intended only for you! And now, I’m going to close it.”

This tale is told during the story called “The Trial”. It’s been said that the logic of this story is the logic of a dream… a nightmare.

Possibly my slightly strange combining of story and image here was suggested by AFTER HOURS, in which both THE TRIAL and THE WIZARD OF OZ are explicitly referenced, suggesting that screenwriter Joseph Minion (and whatever became of him?) should perhaps use as his pseudonym the catchy “L. Frank Kafka.”

(I’m not yet back online, but I had this post ready to go. See you soon!)