Lion of Oz
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|Lion of Oz|
|Directed by||Tim Deacon|
|Produced by||Sophie Chicoine
Loris Kramer Lunsford
|Written by||Elana Lesser
Roger S. Baum
L. Frank Baum
|Music by||Jennifer Wilson|
|Edited by||Claudette Duff|
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films
Cinema Club (UK)
|Country||Canada / United Kingdom|
Lion of Oz is a 2000 animated film set before the children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It tells the story of how the Cowardly Lion, formerly part of the Omaha Circus, came to be in Oz, how he stopped the Wicked Witch of the East from getting the Flower of Oz. It is based upon the book Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage by Roger S. Baum (great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the original author of the Oz books).
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The Lion simply called "Lion" is a circus lion, displayed in a cage where everyone's afraid of him. His only friend is Oscar Diggs, the Circus Balloonist, who lets Lion out of his cage and takes him up on his balloon. While they're up there, Oscar gives Lion a Badge of Courage for coming up on his balloon, but they are soon caught in a storm. Lion falls from the balloon and Oscar can't stop it from leaving and carrying him off. He reminds Lion that "true friends can never be lost" before he is carried away.
Lion comes across a living Oak Tree being harassed by flying monkeys. Lion frightens them off and the Tree thanks him. Lion realises he can talk just as the Tree can talk. The Tree explains the monkeys serve the Wicked Witch of the East, who appears quickly.
She threatens Lion to find the Flower of Oz for her or he'll never see Oscar again, claiming that Oscar is her prisoner. Tree explains to Lion that The Witch is bent on conquering Oz, but is prevented from total control by the "flower".
Setting out, Lion comes across two fairies, whose friend Starburst is trapped in a chest of emeralds at the bottom of a deep pond. Lion dives in, despite his aversion to water, to save her. During his rescue the Witch's henchman Gloom, a living mist of misery, arrives and tries to tempt Lion with greed into forgetting Starburst and taking as many of the emeralds as he wants, but Lion ignores him and saves the little fairy. The fairies gratefully point Lion in the right direction, telling him to go to a certain castle.
As he nearly arrives, he comes across a springy teddy bear named Silly Oz-bul, who says he needs to cross the river to get a drink at the castle. Lion points out he can get a drink from the river, which Silly does. He follows Lion to the castle where they are confronted by a toy soldier named Captain Fitzgerald, who thinks they're enemies. but the misunderstanding is cleared when a young girl named Wimzik and her toy ballerina Caroline come along. Lion explains his mission and they decide to come along with him.
Meanwhile, Gloom reports to the Witch that Lion interfered with his business, so the Witch confronts Lion again, and zaps Fitzgerald to her dungeon, threatening that for each day Lion doesn't find her the Flower of Oz, she'll hurt more of his friends.
Undeterred, the friends keep going until they come to a waterfall. They see a silver bridge to a floating island and Silly attempts to cross the bridge, which turns out to be an illusion, and nearly falls over the cliff. Lion saves him, and they hear a voice from the bottom of the cliff telling them to go back, but when Lion announces they're looking for the Flower of Oz, they are invited down by the voice. They come to the town of the Mini-Munchkins, who built the Silver Bridge before it was destroyed by the Wicked Witch of the East, who also them smaller so they couldn't rebuild it. The bridge the group saw was just an illusion caused by the Mini-Munchkins' sadness. Wimzik inspires them to believe in themselves and not to give up, somehow breaking the Witch's spell over them, returning them to their real sizes and restoring the bridge.
Inside the dungeon, Fitzgerald learns from a guard that the Witch never really kidnapped Oscar, and had merely tricked Lion into thinking so, and the toy soldier realizes he must escape and warn his friends.
The group has crossed the bridge and as they go, Caroline's battery runs out, but Wimzik says she only needs some sunlight to recharge it. But then the Witch returns, casting Caroline's unconscious body into a whirlpool. Lion dives in to save her but the current's too strong. Wimzik dives in and helps them to shore, whereupon Lion says somehow Wimzik's touch gave him strength and Caroline is fully charged from Wimzik's touch as well. The Witch leaves, promising that Silly's next.
In the dungeon, Fitzgerald escapes and spies on the Witch while the group come across a cottage, where they are then confronted by the Seamstress, an elderly enchantress with powers over thread, hems, and patchworks, her wand is a large sewing needle. She turns Silly and Caroline into quilt patches but her wand is knocked from her hand by Lion and her living Pin Cushion nails her sleeve to the wall. Realizing the Seamstress is under another of the Witch's spells, Wimzik manages to calmly talk the Seamstress into remembering how to laugh and smile, breaking the spell and revealing the Seamstress to be a kind person. She turns Silly and Caroline back to their real selves. She then gives them a petal she says came from the Flower of Oz. Lion gets a whiff and tracks it to a large garden encased in ice. When Wimzik touches the flower, the garden is instantly thawed and Lion realizes that they've had the Flower of Oz all along: Wimzik. And the flower she unfroze is really her throne.
The Witch attacks, bringing Gloom with her, as well as Fitzgerald, as he'd stowed along, and reveals the Witch doesn't have Oscar. Lion demands an explanation and the Witch reveals Oscar's balloon actually carried him to the distant Emerald City. The Witch tries to destroy Wimzik, but with the combined efforts of Lion, Silly, Fitzgerald, and Caroline, she is thwarted and Wimzik is accidentally seated on her throne, restoring her mystical powers as the Flower of Oz.
Enraged, the Witch steals Lion's Badge of Courage and sends it to Gloom, who goes after Wimzik. He tries to absorb her, but she is too powerful and he is sent flying into the air (and most likely destroyed). Wimzik orders the Witch to leave, and the Witch swears vengeance before vanishing.
Lion is distraught to have lost his badge, now thinking himself no more than a Cowardly Lion. Wimzik explains his courage and everything he's done weren't because of a badge but Lion's brave and noble heart. Despite this, Lion sadly bids his friends goodbye as he must go find his badge and Oscar, but promises to come back someday.
Lion eventually comes across a yellow brick road and meets none other than Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and Toto. The movie ends with Lion leaping out to meet them, stepping out of his own story and into "The Wizard of Oz".
- Henry Beckman as Narrator
- Dom DeLuise as Oscar Diggs
- Gerard Plunkett as The Oak Tree
- Jason Priestley as Lion
- Lynn Redgrave as The Wicked Witch of the East
- Miklos Perlus as Sunbeam
- Eleanor Noble as Moonbeam
- Elizabeth Robertson as Starburst
- Scott McNeil as Gloom
- Bobcat Goldthwait as Silly Oz-Bul
- Jane Horrocks as Wimzik
- Tim Curry as Captain Fitzgerald
- Kathy Griffin as Caroline
- Peter Kelamis as Tog
- Don Brown as Pin Cushion
- Maxine Miller as Seamstress
The film was released onto Region 1 DVD in 2000 with special features on the disc including Sing Alongs, Music Videos (which were straight from the movie), Games, Interviews with Behind the Scenes and a Gallery. The film was later released onto Region 2 DVD in 2002 but had no special features and only a scene selection on the DVD menu. The film can now be found for digital download and streaming on iTunes and Hulu.
Other animated Oz films/series
- Tales of the Wizard of Oz (1961)
- Return to Oz (TV program) (1964)
- Journey Back to Oz (1972)
- The Wizard of Oz (TV series) (1990)