The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays (lost film adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz"; 1908)


The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays
A rediscovered still from the film.
A rediscovered still from the film.
Status Lost

The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays is the earliest known adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, written by and starring Baum as Oz. "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 1990s and early 2000s). The film was a mix of live action, magic lantern slides, and film which included colorized slides and narration. The film is also said to be the first film to feature a score, as opposed to D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation.

The film is recognized for its technical ambition due to these then-revolutionary features. 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 would eventually "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. The show's failure to cover its high production costs left Baum disappointed for years, though he continued to keep writing books until his death in 1919. Many viewed the show as Baum's non-literary masterpiece.

Status

The film was shown again between September 24th 1925 until December 16th 1925 after the Selig Polyscope Company was acquired by First National Pictures (though the re-release was supposed to last through December 31st). The film was eventually 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 1980s, and historians scrambled to get as much information as possible. There have been rumors 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 rumors are true, this film may be permanently lost.

Gallery

Lost Media Chronicles, episode 2: The Fairylogues and Radio-Plays

Comments


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Anonymous user #1

12 months ago
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really
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Anonymous user #2

11 months ago
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yeah
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Anon

8 months ago
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I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to 1908 and snag a copy of this film
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Reynard

8 months ago
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Don't we all wish that?
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Anonymous user #3

8 months ago
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That describes like everyone on this site's community
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Anonymous user #4

6 months ago
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I wish to have Doraemon time machine to save Doraemon 1973, Doraemon Robot Wars and OF COURSE 1908 The Wizard of Oz
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Anonymous user #5

5 months ago
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But if we had time travel, there would be no need for this website to exist
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Anonymous user #6

4 months ago
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If we had time travel then we could have this website to document how media was lost and someone went back and got it
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Anonymous user #7

2 months ago
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Besides Michigan and New York, the production appeared on November 20 and 21 at the Ravinia Theatre in Highland Park, IL. I worked for the Ravinia Festival and found a copy of the advertising flyer in the archives there.
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