11 August 2003 | jwkenne
A fairly faithful version, after a fashion
Alexandr Volkov's 1939 book "Volshebnik izumrudnogo goroda" is not too well known in the US, although in the former Soviet bloc it is generally regarded as a great classic of children's literature. The reason that it is not so well known here is that its title translates as -- ahem! -- "The Wizard of the Emerald City". (The author admits he had a little help from an American named Baum.) Volkov, in fact, went on to write a number of original sequels (they show in spots that he must have read some of Baum's sequels, but chose to write his own, instead). These sequels were continued after his death, as Baum's were in the US, and there is now a _third_ set of sequels being written, also in Russian, said to be "more Russian and less Soviet" than Volkov's.
This film is a fairly charming stop-motion adaptation of Volkov's version, quite faithful to Volkov's text, which diverges from Baum's in places, though it is much more faithful to Baum than the Judy Garland movie is. The copy I saw was not of the best quality, though, as with most old videotape. Songs, of course.