Turkish Wizard of Oz
aka Aysecik ve sihirli cüceler rüyalar ülkesinde aka Aysecik and the Bewitched Dwarfs in Dreamland
Zeynep Degirmencioglu as Aysecik AKA Dorothy
Suleyman Turan as Korkulu AKA Scarecrow
Metin Serezli as Teneke Koruadam AKA Tin Woodman
Suna Selen as Kotu Cadi AKA Wicked Witch of the West
Ali Sen as Korkak Aslan AKA Cowardly Lion
Cemal Konca as The Great Wizard Keskin Zeka
Another Turkish remake??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This time, the land of Turks and Keys has brought us a remake of The Wizard of Oz, which is amazingly more faithful to the book at certain points than the big budget Hollywood version. It still manages to veer off into random directions, and is full of insane dancing, a gay scarecrow, and special effects that can be done better by three year olds. The previous Turkish filmsTurkish Exorcist, Turkish Spiderman, Turkish Star Trek, Turkish Star Wars, and Kilink Istanbul’da, have all been a barrel of laughs, horrors, and monkeys. Okay, no monkeys. No monkeys in here, either. Not even the winged variety. Sigh… This film continues the fine Turkish film tradition of making the audience say “What in the Hell?”
I am a big Wizard of Oz fan. Not the classic movie, though I like it as well, but the books. I have the whole set from L. Frank Baum, the versions with illustrations by John R. Neill (except the first book, which was W.W. Denslow). I even own one or two of the Ruth Plumbly Thompson books, and have read more of them (thanks to a well-stocked library back when I was a wee lad.) I’ve read some of the updated books (one even by James Howe of Bunnincula fame!) I’ve also read The Sea Fairies and Sky Island. Finding some of these books as an adult has been rather difficult and my attentions have been focused elsewhere, but every once in a while I step back, and reread Ozma of Oz, the best of the books, and it only takes around an hour or two to finish that one. So when I found out about the Turkish version, I was intrigued. This had the potential to be extremely extremely out to lunch. Therefore, a must see.
This film’s Dorothy is Aysecik, played by Zeynep Degirmencioglu. Thank goodness I didn’t have to learn how to spell that last name in grammar school. Zeynep Degirmencioglu apparantly plays Aysecik in a whole slew of Turkish films for children, where she made a ton of money and retired in 1974. she’s done Turkish versions of Pollyanna, Cinderella, Snow White, and played this Aysecik chracter at least 17 times that I can find, and probably more in movies that haven’t seen the light of day in decades. Probably for good reason.
Let’s get this show on the road! Dorothy/Aysecik lives with her Aunt and Uncle (or parents, I don’t speak Turkish so we shall be guessing on what is going on in this film) on a farm in Kansas, Turkey. She’s also with dog, who’s called Banju or something in this version. After some sexy “for the ladies” shots of Uncle Henry shirtless, (Turkish name: Henrykoluman Zerminofogotivioviooiieoioei ) the movie switches to cartoon mode for the transfer of Aysecik to Oz. Or Dreamland. Or Ulkesinde. Ulkesinde doesn’t really have that nice of a ring to it. I’m sure hoping that name wasn’t gotten off a file cabinet like Oz was, or Turkey’s filing systems is in an even worse state than their film industry.
So now we are in Oz/Dreamland/Ulkesinde, and seven midgets dressed as toy soldiers are there prancing around. And we dance! I hope you like pointless dancing, because that’s 90% of this movie! The house landed on the Witch of the East, I guess, because Aysecik picks up the Silver Shoes off her dead body by the house. Too bad the midgets were just dancing. Some of the midgets seem to be just little kids. I think Turkey is trying to pull a fast one here. As there is no Yellow Brick Rock, Aysecik just wanders through some fields, forests, and people’s yards. Tromping through one field leads us to meeting the Scarecrow. Or Korkulu. Whatever, he’s gay. And I mean, Gay with a capital GAY! Korkulu must be Turkish for “Fahrenheit 451” because he’s bursting out in flames! We must not be in the land of Ulkesinde, but in San Francisco! Living there right now, I can honestly say I have seen people wandering around dressed like scarecrows. Some of them were even getting married. This town is weird.
After meeting a Korkulu of the flaming variety, you must dance. And dance. And dance. And dance. And dance. And dance. “Shim shim shim!” goes the song. So recap: Turkish/Kansan girl goes to Oz, meets midgets and a gay scarecrow, sings about a piece of material used in carpentry to fit between things in order to support them. Why doesn’t Turkey rule the world?
Aysecik and Korkulu run across the next member of their band, the Tin Woodman, who is Teneke Koruadam in Turkish. He’s rusted shut as usual, and saying “oil can” in Turkish. Which when your jaw is rusted shut makes it sound like you are having lots of moaning orgasms. Hopefully this weekend I’ll get lucky myself and show some girl my “Oil can face!”
So Teneke Korudam joins them on their trek. They sing! “Shim shim shim!” That night, Korkulu the flamer becomes an actual flamer when his butt is set afire. Yes, the HOMOSEXUAL SCARECROW’S ASS IS SET AFLAME! Only in Turkey. After Korkulu’s flames are fanned out, the next day they run across the final member of their group, the Cowardly Lion. In Turkish, he’s Korkak Aslan. Hopefully he doesn’t get shaved and crucified like another lion named Aslan from literature. He does get slapped around by Dorothy/Aysecik. When a girl slaps you around, it is customary to join her in her wanderings. So he does. The Seven Toy Soldier Midgets are still following them, popping in and out of existence, like Mr. Mxyzptlk or something. Before anything else happens, Aysecik is manhandled by trees in a twisted version of the trees throwing apples scene from the movie. Then we go way off book by wandering into a village made entirely of dolls. This is spooky enough since the dolls are just set up, but come nighttime, they come alive and scream! This scares Aysecik naught, and she befriends them.
The Seven Toy Soldier Midgets prove their usefulness by getting Our Heroes across a lake, by uttering “Palla Boom Boom!” “Palla Boom Boom” is also used to make some food appear, then the Midgets start playing as a band! Everyone dances! Dance dance dance. After the long long long long long dance sequence, they group reaches the Emerald Dollhouse Model….I mean the Emerald City! The gate-keeper just laughs and laughs and laughs. They go to see the Great and Powerful Oz, who is a skull sitting on a table. The skull speaks via a hidden megaphone and commands them to go kill the Wicked Witch of the West. In Turkish, I am told the Wizard is named Keskin Zeka. Is Aysecik and her dog Banju the only people without names beginning with K? Even the Wicked Witch is a K, Kotu Cadi! A Konspiracy of K’s!
So they have to go kill an evil witch? What do they do? DANCE! “Shim shim shim!” We finally see the Wicked Witch, I mean Kotu Cadi, who instead of sending flying monkeys, sends some random soldiers to go kill our heroes. Kotu Cadi watches as Scarecrow/Korkulu rips himself apart to hide Dorothy/Aysecik and Lion/Aslan underneath a pile of straw, all while Tin Woodman/Teneke Koruadam prances around for ten seconds, afterwards they come out from the pile and continue on their way. What the heck was the point? The Witch watched them do this, and they hid for only ten seconds, AND the Tin Woodman was dancing around ATTRACTING attention. Oh, well. The Soldiers attack. They penetrate Scarecrow/Korkulu with their big pointy spears. You can tell he loves it, until they rip him to pieces. Tin Woodman/Teneke Koruadam is beaten into scrap by soldiers with styrofoam rocks. Lion/Aslan is netted and tied to a stick, and Dorothy/Aysecik is also captured. This is pretty hardcore for a kids movie, they just killed two characters, and violently captured the other two. Good job, Turkey!
Inside the Witch’s castle, the Seven Toy Soldier Midgets visit Aysecik in her cell and try to cheer her up. Then they leave. They don’t let her out, but she’s wandering the castle anyway in the next scene. I’ll just imagine she regurgitated a key at some point, as Kansan farmers are always swallowing random keys. Dorothy dumps some water on the Witch, who “melts” away (rubs her face makeup a bit) and is dissolved. The soldiers are happy, and everyone DANCES! “Shim shim shim!”
They don’t bother to show you, but Scarecrow/Korkulu and Tin Woodman/Teneke Koruadam must get fixed at some point. They all head back to the Emerald Dollhouse, where the skull on the table tells them something in Turkish which is interrupted by Banju the dog exposing the Wizard as Merlin. Or some guy dressed as Merlin, named Keskin Zeka. He gives the speech where he gives everyone brains, hearts, courage, and what not, but in Turkish. Later, he tells Aysecik he’s headed home, and she can come with him. He also giver her a paper heart, which I guess she was supposed to give to Tin Man/Teneke but it’s never seen again. There is a parade saying goodbye to Merlin/Wizard/Keskin Zeka, which is some people in a forest playing music as he strolls by, heading to his hot air balloon. Aysecik is supposed to get on as well, but Bantu runs off, and chasing him down keeps her from getting on the child’s balloon filled with helium, with a GI Joe action figure on a cardboard platform beneath it that floats away. I mean the Hot Air Balloon. Yes. Industrial Lights and Magic has some competition!
The Scarecrow/Korkulu is FAB-ulous in his new cape/crown as the new King of Oz/Dreamland/Ulkesinde, but he has to help Aysecik find the Good Witch of the South, Glinda. I don’t know who her Turkish name is, so we can just call her Kglinda Aslantug or some other Turkish name with “K” in it. As for Korkulu’s new look, let’s just say it’s Queer Eye for the Straight Turkish/Kansan Broad! “When you are around, when you are around, Shim shim shim!” On the way there, they pass by the Doll Village again, the frighten more people. And more Dancing! “Shim shim shim!”
Cave people. Yes, cave people. They also dance. Cave dance. The cavemen then stop dancing….to attack Aysecik and her friends! Never fear, the highlight of the movie happens next! The Seven Midgets reappear, and summon a CANNON via “Palla Boom Boom!” Then they gun down all of the marauding cavemen. Yes, it’s genocide! Then, everyone laughs! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Genocide is fun! Turkey would know, what with all the Armenians they killed in 1915-1916 and 1922-1923. Everyone dances! “Shim shim shim!” They locate Glinda, who tells Aysecik that she can get home with the Silver Shoes. So they rehash the “Goodbye” scene, except now there are Seven Extra Midget Characters she has to say goodbye to as well. So it goes on forever, is in Turkish, and as there isn’t any exploding Cave People, it isn’t that interesting. Finally, the girl goes home.
The Midgets have followed her! But they soon go back to vanishing. Finally, we have Son! (yet no “Son” as that part is cut off of the print! Denied.)
Another Turkish non-stop stack of hilarity! They cannot be beat for pure film entertainment, though not for the reasons they make the films! Turkey should be given large amounts of small budgets and rights to make anything they want, as long as they make hundreds of films a year. While Italy was a reigning factory of cheap movies in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the real cheap movies were being made in Turkey, and as they slowly make their way to America, they are rapidly becoming the best imports the world has ever seen. Bring on the Turkish movies. Bring on their pain. Bring on their joy. Bring on their $5 budgets. Bring on their Turkish with no subtitles. Bring it all on. We want it. We need it. We deserve it. We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful wizard of Ulkesinde, Shim shim shim!
Shim shim shim, for life!
Rated 8/10 (The Great and Powerful Oz, I Spy with My Witchy Eye…, Toto!, Balloon High-jinks, FAB-ulous, Scarecrow has just been penetrated by a big pointy spear, Cowardly Aslan, Tin Can Jam!)