Warner Home Video
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentaries, Deleted Scenes and Outtakes, Stills Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, Select Audio-Only Features
"The Wizard of Oz", considered by many film historians to be one of the most important movies of all-time, one that has truly captivated audiences, spanning all generations throughout countless decades. From its early theatrical exhibitions to annual Thanksgiving weekend presentations on black and white, then color television, to the various incarnations in the home video market, "The Wizard of Oz" now makes its second appearance onto the DVD format sporting an all-new digitally restored transfer.
Join Dorothy (Judy Garland) and Toto on their adventures along the classic yellow brick road as they meet up with a scarecrow in search of a brain, a charming tin-man that is void of a heart, with a wary, yet compassionate lion who seeks a little courage joining the group as they attempt to gain assistance from the infamous Wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. With general guidance from the friendly witch of the north, who gives Dorothy a pair of ruby slippers to help her fend off a nasty wicked witch of the west, who tries everything in her power to stop the group from reaching the Emerald City through various trickery and casting of spells.
Warner Home Video has completed a full digital restoration of "The Wizard of Oz" by using their "Ultra-Resolution" process that delicately scans the original negative to create a full digital print of the film, then marries the three separate Technicolor sources, cyan, yellow and magenta to create a master that is ready for final finessing. With a crew of technicians who painstakingly went through each frame of the of the presentation digitally removing any dust elements, dirt, scratches or film splices from within the original print, this special edition of "The Wizard of Oz" is simply the best that this film has ever looked. Color saturation is wildly vivid, returning the film to its full Technicolor glory, with a deep and rich reproduction of black levels that showcases all of the available details in both the color and sepia-tone segments. Film detail is so precise that this new print even manages to expose elements that were simply not meant to be seen, like the string that holds up the lion's tail, which becomes easily visible during certain scenes within the film. There is some visible grain present throughout, but this is only a characteristic of the original film stock used during this particular period when "The Wizard of Oz" was produced, which I felt added to the nostalgic feel of the overall spectacular exhibition.
Including a beautifully mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, Warner Home Video utilized all available organic elements from the original soundtrack to produce this new mix. Working with the original vocal track, two full orchestral tracks and a separate track for sound effects that were precisely mixed to offer a well balanced 5.1 presentation, without the need of adding new sound elements not found in the films original presentation. The final result is pretty amazing, presenting good balance and naturally appearing vocals and song performances, while preserving the 1939 sound that has now been re-mixed for today's audiences, which are used to the typical 5.1 home theater exhibitions. Thankfully the original mono track is also available for film buffs that wish to experience "The Wizard of Oz" in its original sound format.
The extras for disc one include an all-new audio commentary featuring; Historian John Fricke with various cast, crew and family participation. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook" is a featurette that offers illustrations with narration provided by Angela Lansbury, the segment "We Haven't Really Met Properly" introduces you to the supporting cast of characters from the film, "Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz" is a behind-the-scenes documentary that exposes you to the full process involved that brought this new transfer of "The Wizard of Oz" to life, from scanning the original negative to final touch-ups, this featurette is not to be overlooked.
On disc two, you have a great selection of documentaries to choose from, starting with the full-length "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic" is another behind-the-scenes presentation that should not go unwatched, if you have never seen this documentary, it is well worth the time invested. The "Outtakes and Deleted Scenes" section features some truly remarkable footage, along with a rare audio performance and stills featuring Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast as the tin-man, but had to leave the part after falling ill to aluminum poisoning from the harsh make-up used for his character. "Memories of Oz", "The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz", "Because of the Wonderful Things it Does: The Legacy of Oz" are all great featurettes that provide a ton of information, which is sure to give you a new appreciation of just how "The Wizard of Oz" has influenced many films of our time, from "Star Wars" to my personal favorite; "Wild at Heart" from director David Lynch, you will be amazed at the impact that this film has on our culture. "Harold Arlen's Home Movies", "Stills Gallery", a "Theatrical Trailer Gallery" and an audio-only section that features radio shows and promos complete the value added materials section of disc two.
It has been a few years since I had experienced this cherished motion picture, one that will leave you with a genuine smile from ear-to-ear as you witness the pure innocence of this truly cinematic treasure from days gone by. Choosing between the two-disc special edition or the full-blown three-disc extravaganza, will be a decision left for the individual that seeks either the beautiful presentation with a great compliment of extras and behind-the-scenes content, or the film buff who chooses to double their investment and buy the limited edition with every possible item available for "The Wizard of Oz", including printed materials and deluxe packaging, etc.