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The Wiz

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The Wiz U rating

NYC becomes Oz in the cult, urban reimagining of the family favourite, featuring an all-African American cast including Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Fantasy 1978 134 mins

Director: Sidney Lumet

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Overview

Based on the popular Broadway musical, Motown and Universal Pictures’ all-African-American reimagining of The Wizard of Oz has transcended its initial commercial failure to become a cult favourite.

Directed by 1970s great Sidney Lumet, this urban reimaging finds an adult Dorothy (Diana Ross) embarking on a colourful fantasy through the edgy, dishevelled decay of 1970s New York. Michael Jackson makes his first screen appearance as the Scarecrow, while Richard Pryor is the titular Wiz, in a musical stacked with memorable songs from Luther Vandross and Charlie Smalls, arranged by Quincy Jones. If the film’s combination of upbeat disco with gritty 1970s aesthetics wasn’t strange enough, Joel Schumacher’s script is also peppered with oblique allusions to Werner Erhard’s EST movement, a popular Hollywood fad of the time. A genuine cult marvel, The Wiz is an otherworldly oddity that has to be seen to be believed.

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