The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays (lost film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's Oz; 1908)
|A rediscovered still from the film.|
The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays is the earliest known (1908) adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, written by and starring Baum. "Fairylogue" is a play on "fairy" and "travelogue", a popular form of the documentary at the time which involved people travelling to exotic places. The word "radio" was an attempt to make the film sound "high-tech" (as "cyber" or "2000" would be used in the 90s and early 2000s). The film included colourized slides, live actors, and narration. The film is also recognised as the first film to have a score, often erroneously attributed to D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation.
The film is also recognised as one of the most technically ambitious films. Baum and several stage actors would interact with each other on stage as well as onscreen. The film would start out with Baum giving a lecture of his "travelogue" through the Land of Oz and the characters eventually, would "pull" him into their world. There was even a scene where Dorothy would be whisked away from the stage onto the screen by a tornado.
The film was shown for two months straight in Michigan and then in New York before closing on December 16, 1908. Despite the massive critical acclaim and sold out shows nearly every night it ran, costs were so high that, even though they had doubled the ticket prices, they still couldn't turn a profit. This left Baum depressed for years, even up to his death in 1919. Many viewed this as Baum's non-literary masterpiece.
The film was discarded after the Baum estate discovered its decomposition, and it is unknown if any other copies survive. A few production stills were uncovered in the late 80s, and historians scrambled to get as much information as possible. There have been rumours that a few copies may have been made to sell to collectors via a gift shop at the theatre the film was shown. Unless these rumours are true, this film is likely permanently lost.