Definitions

Mombi

Mombi

Mombi is a character from the L. Frank Baum Oz Books series. She appears in the book The Marvelous Land of Oz and is alluded to other works. She also appears in Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Lost King of Oz, and a painted doppelganger of her appears in John R. Neill's Lucky Bucky in Oz.

Books

Mombi is generally referred to as a witch, although The Marvelous Land of Oz opens with the observation that the Good Witch of the North had banned other witches from her domain and so she could be no more than a sorceress.

In the course of The Marvelous Land of Oz, she was the guardian of Tip, until he ran away. She also purchased the Powder of Life from Dr. Nikidik, and brought Jack Pumpkinhead to life with it. She assists Jinjur in her revolt in order to regain Tip. Finally, it is revealed that, in the backstory, the Wizard visited her when he usurped the throne of the Emerald City, and so she is the person most likely to know what befell the Princess Ozma. Captured, she reveals that she turned her into a boy. Glinda, being a respectable sorceress, does not perform shapeshifting magics, which are not honest; she forces Mombi to restore Tip to her natural form as Ozma, the last magic that Mombi will perform.

When the backstory of Oz is referred to later in the series, Mombi is often included, despite the many variations to the tale that Baum gave to the backstory in the course of the series. She is sometimes referred to as the Wicked Witch of the North. In Ozma of Oz, she is described as having kidnapped the baby princess, dropping the Wizard's role. In Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, she is described as having kidnapped Ozma's grandfather, long before the Wizard's arrival in Oz.

In The Lost King of Oz we find Mombi working as a cook in Kimbaloo. She is forced to reverse the spell (which she sent to Hollywood, California for safe keeping as the identification number of a stunt dummy, Humpy (2O2-BE10-B47)) she placed on King Pastoria, eating some of Kabumpo's buttons to do so. In the end, Ozma orders her execution by water for her past offenses. In The Giant Horse of Oz it is revealed that she had transformed Queen Orin of the Ozure Isles, in fact the queen of the Munchkin Country, into Tattypoo, the Good Witch of the North. When Mombi's name is mentioned, it quickly brings out a response "but she was put out two years ago."

Mombi, although not the real Mombi, appears in Lucky Bucky in Oz, when Jack Pumpkinhead's magic painting of her comes off a wall and causes trouble.

Movies

The Wicked Witch of the West is given the similar name, "Momba" in the 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but is based on that character, not Mombi. A witch named Mombi also appears in the 1914 film His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. The character resembles W. W. Denslow's depiction of the Wicked Witch of the West (complete with eyepatch, pigtails and umbrella), and her role in the story is based on the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and inspired the witch Blinkie in the novel The Scarecrow of Oz.

Mombi appears in the feature film The Wonderful Land of Oz, played by Zisca, whose real name is Franzisca Baum, although she admits that she is not related to L. Frank Baum. She sings the eerie song, "The Powder of Life," and does not express her anger toward Tip until immediately after she has finished it, proudly proclaiming herself as a witch and not minding at all that Tip has said so. Her appearance is largely modeled on Margaret Hamilton's in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but with her hair more down, dark circles under her eyes, a paler appearance and more difficult walk, and purple highlighting in her clothes emphasizing her Gillikin origins.

Mombi is the main villain of the 1971 animated film Journey Back to Oz, which is loosely based on The Marvelous Land of Oz. In the film, Mombi (voiced by Ethel Merman) tries to overthrow the Scarecrow with magical green elephants. When her plans are thwarted by Dorothy, Glinda and "Pumpkinhead", she transforms herself into a rose, as in The Marvelous Land of Oz; however, in this adaptation, the rose is trampled by one of the elephants, and Mombi is killed.

In the 1981 videotaped production of The Marvelous Land of Oz, Mombi was played by Wendy Lehr. She performed her hunched over, and kicked each leg out as she walked. She could not disguise this when she impersonated Jellia Jamb, so Rana Haugen matched Lehr's walk in this scene. In this version, Mombi regularly refers to Tip by his full name Tippetarius, unlike anyone else, which gives away her Jellia disguise to him. Tip arouses her anger by referring to her as a witch and she grabs him and threatens to beat him for saying so, then recalling she cannot get away with permanently harming him, her grab becomes a mock-motherly caress as she assures him "I'm not a witch. You know that witchcraft is forbidden. I'm just an old Gillikin woman who sometimes makes herself a homemade remedy," then tosses him aside and says nastily, "Arthritis, you know!"

In the 1985 movie Return to Oz, the character of Mombi was combined with head-exchanging Princess Langwidere from the third book in the series, Ozma of Oz and she is renamed Princess Mombi.

Here, she is portrayed as a darkly beautiful but psychotic young sorceress. She is called a witch but doesn't seem to possess any powers whatsoever. She is also a coward at heart who grovels before the Nome King and begs for her life when he is displeased with her.

She makes a deal with the Nome King who makes her a princess and gives her seven beautiful heads which she exchanges depending on her mood. She also guards the Powder of Life. When Dorothy encounters the princess in her palace, Mombi develops a fondness for Dorothy's head and locks her in the tower, planning to remove her head later on. Dorothy however escapes and steals the Powder of Life from a case which also contains Mombis's true head. Unfortunately she awakens the head which screams Dorothy's name, awakening the other heads which all begin screaming her name as well, awakening Mombi's headless body which relentlessly pursues Dorothy who manages to escape. Donning her true head, Mombi sends her sinister minions, the Wheelers after Dorothy. At the climax of the film, the Nome King imprisons Mombi in a magical cage for failing him.

She is portrayed by Jean Marsh (as well as Sophie Ward and Fiona Victory), the same actress who plays Head Nurse Wilson in the mental hospital where Dorothy is committed at the beginning of the movie.

In the 1986 anime adaptation Oz no Mahōtsukai, Mombi takes on a much younger (middle aged), heavier appearance.

Adaptations

Mombi and Tip also make a cameo appearance in Gregory Maguire's second Oz novel, Son of a Witch.

References

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