JOURNEY BACK TO OZ Review: Forgotten Beauty
When people talk about the land of Oz, they almost always think about the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland and Ray Bolger. While that film is obviously a timeless classic, I think it's apparent that many people often forget about the joyous 1972 animated Oz film that is Journey Back to Oz.
The film works as a spiritual sequel to the 1939 film and sees Dorothy, voiced by Liza Minnellii, recalling her time in Oz, only to be swept away by another cyclone and deposited back in the magical land of Oz. She meets new friends named Pumpkinhead and Woodenhead Stallion III and, along with some old friends, they battle the evil witch named Mombi, who plans to rule all of Oz with her giant, green elephants.
To be fair, I had no idea this movie even existed until January of this year. Even though I had never seen it before, it felt like I had watched it over and over again when I was a child growing up in the 2000s.
To start off, the look of the film is absolutely breathtaking. Its sheer artistry and passion for the craft of animation is something that deserves a lot of admiration. It's able to stretch out and accentuate the expressions in its characters, which is something that even the 1939 film has its limitations with. Every frame of the film is a splendor-filled nostalgia ride that demands to be seen; its visual majesty is something that both children and adults can enjoy.
Moreover, the music is certainly what kept me hooked. Whenever I hear Liza Minnelli bolt out the songs "A Faraway Land" or "Keep A Happy Thought," I almost feel like a 7-year-old, smiling from ear-to-ear with the same innocence and happiness that I had at that tender age, and my heart almost melts. Hearing such a marvelous voice inside on screen makes for some grand viewing. Admittedly, some songs do drag, like "An Elephant Never Forgets," or can be slightly annoying, like "B-R-A-N-E," but that's very small when you compare it to the graceful elegance of the other musical options.
Seeing this film reminds me of an afternoon school special, which is why it seems so special to me. It's almost a form of therapy whenever the pressures of life feel a little too stressful. I put this film on and all my worries melt away.
I have very fond memories of The Wizard of Oz because I have always been fascinated with stories about people traveling to strange lands. Seeing this underrated 1972 animated gem has been nothing short of a blessing and an honor.
(Editor's note: Unfortunately, Journey Back to Oz is not currently available to stream. The film was released on DVD in 2006, but is now out of print.)