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The International Writers Magazine
: One of the Worst Films of all Time?

The Turkish Wizard of Oz 
(Aysecik ve sihirli cüceler rüyalar ülkesinde (1971)

'a very faithful adaptation of I Frank Baum's novel '

Yes, it's just what it says it is, a Turkish remake of The Wizard of Oz. How bad could it be? The Turkish Wizard of Oz answers the age old question "Whatever happened to all that hash the Turks took away from Billy Hayes in Midnight Express?" They used it to make this movie, and you'll need some to watch it. Let's just say that at some point it's sure to remind you of Apocalypse Now as you shave your head and fall to the floor going "The horror. The horror."

You may think you've seen bad. You may think Plan 9 from Outer Space was as incompetent as it gets. Your horizons are about to be expanded. Ed Wood Jr. is Orson Welles next to whoever made this. As with Citizen Kane, it's impossible to separate The Turkish Wizard of Oz from the story behind the making of The Turkish Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way they lost the original press kit explaining the origin of the film, so we'll never know, but I can guess it went something like this...

A CARE package with a motion picture camera was accidentally dropped out of a cargo plane somewhere in Turkey. It fell in a town fountain where it was retrieved by the village idiot who decided to use it to make a movie. The only movie he had ever seen was The Wizard of Oz ten years early, so he decided to do a remake despite the fact he barely remembered it and that the camera didn't come with instructions. He badly exposed the film while loading the camera, causing a red streak along the right side of the picture that we're not supposed to notice. There was no sound equipment, so he just shot anyway, later adding dialogue and songs from his scratchy record collection of old showtunes and roller rink organ music, making this the first film badly dubbed from Turkish INTO Turkish. (There was no synch-sound capacity in Turkey in 1971 apparently) Ed

There are no subtitles, making this the ideal film to talk through and make fun of. Since you can't understand what they're saying anyway, at some point you're sure to discover your fast forward button and, though you'll inevitably have to stop and rewind to examine something that just doesn't make any sense no matter what language it's in. If you watch it with your kids, as I did, you can play a great game of "What the hell is going on?" while the film speeds ahead. You'll also get the unique opportunity to hear your kid say "Dad, if I have to watch this one more minute, I'm going to shoot myself."

It does indeed bare SOME relation to the original film, even though both Kansas and Oz mysteriously look exactly like Turkey. There's a little girl from a farm, a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman, and a Cowardly Lion. And other than the fact that it's not yellow, not made out of brick, or even, strictly speaking, a road, it's EXACTLY like the yellow brick road, and they dance down it. The Munchkins and the Good Witch of the West have been mysteriously replaced by seven dwarves/midgets/children dressed like a marching band from The Music Man. They appear and disappear at will while laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing.

Remember the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they finally see the castle and one of them says "It's only a model?" They stole it from this, only no one says "It's only a model" when they finally see Oz. Irony is not a word in the Turkish dictionary.

Some of it bares no relation to the original film in any way whatsoever. The scene with the cavemen is clearly there for no other reason than they had the opportunity to shoot in some cool looking caves, relieving us from the monotony of the endless scenes of the hapless four dancing through colorless meadows to bad Turkish music.

In the original, the trees throw apples at the gang. One wonders what Freud would make of the scene in this one where a tree actually attacks Dorothy, only to have his limbs chopped off by the Tin Woodsman. And the lack of subtitles will have you wondering for the rest of your life exactly what it was that the Scarecrow was saying when Dorothy was sewing his butt together. My favorite scene? The one where Dorothy throws water on the witch and she doesn't so much melt as use the water to wipe off her make-up.

he best thing about The Turkish Wizard of Oz is that it allows you to play a fun trick on your grandparents. Invite them over for dinner, spike their drinks with acid, take them to the living room, tell them you're all going to watch The Wizard of Oz, then put this on and pretend nothing's wrong.
© Michael Dare December 2004
dare2b at

To be fair to this film - it is better to watch a foreign film with sub-titles in English or whatever is your language of choice and then make a judgement. Ed

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