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"The Wizard of Oz 3D" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-october-2013-wizardofoz

Synopsis

Dorothy Gale is a young Kansas girl who finds herself in trouble with an unpleasant neighbor over the activities of her dog Toto. It seems Miss Gulch wants to destroy the dog because he digs in her garden. She takes the dog but Toto escapes back to Dorothy and she decides to run away. After an encounter with a traveling magician, she decides to return home but a sudden tornado prevents her from reuniting with her family. After a bump on the head, she wakes up in the land of Oz. Thanks to the timely landing of her house, she has rid the land of the Wicked Witch of the East and the resident Munchkins couldn't be happier.

Dorothy desperately wants to return to Kansas so she embarks for the Emerald City to see the Wizard. Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion; who all want to go the Emerald City too. But the Wicked Witch of the West has other ideas. She covets the ruby slippers Dorothy is wearing. Eventually they reach the city but the Wizard refuses to help the party until they bring him the Witch's broom. When they try to sneak into the castle, Dorothy is captured. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion manage to get into the castle but they are captured too. Just when all seems lost, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on the Witch and she melts; much to the joy of all her minions.

The party returns to the Emerald city, Dorothy clicks her heels together and suddenly finds herself in bed where it appears she's just had an amazing dream. She and Toto are reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.

Specifications

  • MGM/Warner Brothers
  • 1939, Black and White/Color
  • Rated G (3D version rated PG)
  • 1 Hour, 42 Minutes
  • 1.37:1, 1080p, MPEG-4 MVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • 3D:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I had not watched The Wizard of Oz since I was a child; but I found myself quickly getting lost in it once again. They really don't make movies like this anymore! For a film that didn't do well at the box office, only grossing $3 million on a $2 million production cost; it has become one of the most significant works ever produced. After several re-releases and becoming a permanent staple on television; the Wizard of Oz is probably the most famous and well-known movie of all time. Produced more like a stage musical rather than a realistic piece of cinema; it takes on a theatrical feel as soon as Dorothy wakes up in Oz in one of the earliest uses of the three-strip Technicolor process. The use of lavishly painted sets and over the top costumes only adds to that vibe. The music really takes you back to Hollywood's golden age when most actors were accomplished singers and every soundtrack was recorded by a full orchestra. Harold Arlen's songs have become as famous as the film itself. The American Film Institute even ranked Over the Rainbow as the number one movie song of all time. If you already own the Blu-ray released in 2009, you'll want this new release for the superb 3D conversion that's included; more on that below. Personally, I'm glad to add this one to my library.

Technical

The 2D image quality is superb. This is one of the finest restorations I've ever seen. It's easily the equal of The Ten Commandments, another reference-level transfer. It is the same disc that was released in 2009 so if you aren't watching the new 3D version, there's nothing new in this package. The color, contrast, and cleanliness are pretty much unparalleled. It's obvious a lot of care was taken here.

The new 3D conversion is the star of this 75th anniversary edition. Taken from a brand-new 8K scan, the film was re-restored and converted to 3D. And the result is breathtaking. Most conversions look like conversions but this example could almost pass for a film shot in 3D. Perhaps it's the staging of the movie itself but I must commend the creators on a job extremely well-done. There are no gimmicks or moments when the 3D seems intrusive. It only enhances; it never detracts.

The sound track is a DTS-HD Master Audio re-encode of the original monaural recording. As such it sounds a bit boxed-in most of the time. The best parts are the musical numbers which have a warm vintage tone that I enjoyed immensely. The dialog is crystal-clear and firmly anchored in the center of the screen. There isn't much for the surrounds or sub to do, but it really isn't that kind of movie. I suspect the creators couldn't do much better with the original track but it's not the very best restoration I've heard.

Extras

Bonus features are quite extensive, and total over two hours. The main attraction is a 67-minute making of documentary which is quite fascinating. There is also audio commentary from Sydney Pollack and Oz historian John Frick. Interviews with actors from the film, and their descendants are also included. Both the 2D and 3D discs contain extra material like photo galleries, song clips, outtakes, and rehearsal footage. Fans wanting the full set of extras will have to buy the 5-disc edition from 2009 but this new release contains the best of that volume. The only thing missing here is a DVD or digital copy.