From the “so bad it’s good” department: an evangelical reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz, titled The Prophet of Oz.
There’s a long list of “Christian” changes to the original:
- Dorothy’s goal isn’t to find her way back to Kansas. In fact, the film never even shows our heroine returning home. Instead, in Prophet of Oz Dorothy wants to become a “good Christian.”
- Squeaky the guinea pig replaces Toto.
- Glinda the Good Witch is now an “angel of God.” She also sports braces (as all legit angels do).
- The Devil himself (a Severus Snape lookalike) stands in for the Wicked Witch. He tempts Dorothy with cigarettes and “ice cold beer,” suspended by fishing line between his outstretched hands.
- The Scarecrow wants “faith” instead of a brain. The Tin Man doesn’t need a heart; he longs to learn how to pray. The Cowardly Lion lacks not courage but compassion.
- The Lion also looks like a burn victim. Seriously—the Scarecrow and Tin Man costumes are fairly convincing, but the Lion’s melty face will give you nightmares.
- The four companions don’t skip down the Yellow Brick Road. They shuffle down an unnamed asphalt path.
- There are no songs. No “Munchkin Land.” No “If I Only Had A Brain.” No “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” No “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” Instead, gentle synths segue the characters from scene to scene.
- Oz’s inner sanctum (like Dorothy’s bedroom) was apparently shot in a church basement. The cinder block walls and ceiling-mounted air conditioner are dead giveaways.
This adaptation is formidably, fantastically awful. The special effects are worth the price of admission (because they’re hilarious). Long, awkward pauses and clumsy two-camera cuts punctuate the already-ham-fisted dialogue. The embedded evangelical theology is shallow and moralistic: do your devotions. Pray extemporaneously (not from rote). Let Jesus into your heart. The film deifies the Bible and neglects discussing God much at all.
If I were still working in ministry, I would eagerly share The Prophet of Oz with my church—but only as an example of bad (bad!) Christian “art.”
- It may even be illegal. The YouTube description claims that Prophet of Oz is re-imagined “more from the book, than the movie.” But the director may be making that claim to evade any legal snags. The original book has long since passed into the public domain, but the 1939 movie’s copyright is very much active. ↩