It seems challenging to create a diverse reboot for The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life, but this is happening. Under the guidance of Blackish creator Kenya Barris, these classic stories are getting spruced up. Who fills the Judy Garland and Jimmy Stewart roles remains to be seen.
Yet Barris told Variety that he’s finished the script for the Oz update.
Dorothy will live in the Bottoms, an apartment complex in Inglewood, Calif. There are other elements to the script that haven’t been made public yet. Barris, though, sees his version of the movie through a new pair of glasses.
“The original ‘Wizard of Oz’ took place during the Great Depression and it was about self-reliance and what people were going through,” Barris said. “I think this is the perfect time to switch the characters and talk about what someone imagines their life could be.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ Reflects ‘Hero’s Journey’
“It’s ultimately a hero’s journey, someone thinks something’s better than where they’re at, and they go and realize that where they’re at is where they should be,” he said. “I want people to be proud and happy about where they’re from. But I want the world to take a look at it and I hope that will come through.”
Will there be reflections of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Lion? Or are these characters showing up with similar yet updated qualities to fit this revised version? Again, Barris has not revealed every detail about The Wizard of Oz reboot.
Meanwhile, there’s also news about It’s a Wonderful Life, too. Barris’ updated version is being filmed at Paramount. He said there would be a person of color as the main character. Barris does believe that Frank Capra’s film is good for a person of color perspective in its storyline.
“I feel like Christmas movies are amazing and I think the idea of taking something that has that long of a history and a tale behind it and putting an amazing piece of talent to tell that story,” Barris said. “It’s a guy who’s trying to help out his community and things are going to turn around on him.
Barris Sees Community Story In Reboot
“I think that’s the perfect story to tell for a person of color — black or brown — to get into that because our communities have some issues and someone trying to help that community out,” he said. “I think that’s the perfect vehicle to tell that story from.”
Both of these movies have dear followings developed from generation to generation. There probably will be people who wish Barris wouldn’t touch these movies. Yet Barris appears to understand the sacredness both films have in the public realm. Bringing them to the big screen from a different viewpoint might be worth seeing.”
Besides Garland, cast members in the original Wizard of Oz included Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, and Margaret Hamilton. As for It’s a Wonderful Life, cast members also included Ward Bond, Sheldon Leonard, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell, and Lionel Barrymore.
While working on these reboots, Barris also mentioned in the interview that he’s been working hard on a biopic about Richard Pryor. Barris hopes that it can be released to the public later this year or next year.
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