Whatís the balance between reverentially regarding Mr. Baumís material, which has endured on its merits, for well nigh a century and wanting to make that alive and fresh for the modern sensibility of a modern movie-going audience?
Raimi: Well, when I came to the project, I had never read any of Baumís work and Iíve only read four of the books now. First of all, I so loved the movie The Wizard of Oz that I was afraid to read versions of it that were not exactly what I loved so much about the movie. This is very strange, I didnít want the book to mess up the movie for me, this is where I was at. But then, after I read the screenplay, which I loved, I started to read the books and appreciate Baumís work. I was so surprised at how exactly [the movie] The Wizard of Oz was his first book. His work is fresh right now. Itís brilliant and affecting and the characters donít need to be refreshened by anybody.
However, the screenplay is based on a lot of elements of a lot of his books. In many of his books, and even more than the ones I read, he would go back and talk about the wizard. Thereís a little bit about the wizard in the first one, a little bit about the wizard in three and four. He went back and said, ďHereís how the wizard got here and this was his backstory.Ē So what the writer, Mitchell Kapner, did was he took all those elements that were given to the audience in later books that heís kind of rearrangedÖnot ďkind of,Ē heís put them back in chronological order of what happened to the wizard, how the wizard got there to the Land of Oz.
So heís already taken tremendous artistic license and itís not exactly what happened in the books that was talked about, may have been referenced. Heís had to fill in the blanks. So, when I read the screenplay, it was never a faithful adaptation of any of the books. It was the writer piecing together what Baum had given him, and then he had to fill in a tremendous amount of blanks. There was no information there.
What might have the Wicked Witch or these other characters have been doing during this time? Sometimes it was written about, sometimes it wasnít. So, I think Mitchell Kapner could best speak about it, but heís taken elements of the books and rearranged them in what could have happened. Itís a ďwhat ifĒ story.