Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 38.3 GB
Disc 2 Size: 17.1 GB
Film Size: 21.1 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: Free

The Wizard of Oz comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation that is spectacular on all levels, the detail can be quite incredible. There are so many things in the film I never noticed, particularly facial details that just weren't possible before a high-def format. The colors were beautiful, never looking over saturated or off.

The film is also clean as can be, without the use of any noticeable DNR or edge enhancement. Dirt and specks are no where to be found, and the differences in that alone are drastic. There is also a natural grain present throughout the film, which is never excessive and actually quite light overall.

The film can have a soft focus at times, but fans of the film ultimately know what to expect as far as the overall look of the film. Watching the Blu-ray release really had me thinking 'there is no way this is 70 years old', the quality is stunning and will leave you in denial too. You haven't experienced the Wizard of Oz until you have experienced it on Blu-ray, making this a contender for one of the best looking films on the format. 10/10.

5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio is included, as well as the original mono track. The Dolby TrueHD audio track was much better than I had anticipated, sporting a more active experience, without taking away from the original mono experience we have all come to know. They never used cheesy surround use just for the sake of making a surround track, they clearly put a lot of effort in staying true to the original film, with putting certain effects in very fitting areas.

For example, The wicked witch now comes out from the ground with some serious bass, it actually worked very well in the film. Dialogue was also very clear and beautiful, with no hissing elements present, although at times you can hear the limitations of the audio with Judy Garland's high notes.

This track was very beautiful, it's never sounded so great, and fans will appreciate the quality upgrade from the very beginning of the film. For a film of it's age, it just doesn't get much better than this. 9/10.


Disc 1:

Audio Commentary
by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic (50:49) (SD)

The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz (29:46) (SD)

Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz (25:06) (SD)

Memories of Oz (27:40) (SD)
Stories from relatives of the actors and memories from the film.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (10:28) (SD)
Reading from the book 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'.

Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz (11:28) (SD)
See what it took to restore The Wizard Of Oz, as well as how they created the 5.1 surround track. This is definitely one of the most interesting for those curious about the presentation of the film.

We Haven't Really Met Properly... (21:23) (SD)
All about the stars of the film, about them in their personal lives, professional lives, and connections before and after Oz.

Music And Effects Track
Listen to the film with just the music and effects present in Mono audio.

Original Mono Track
The original mono track is also included.

Select your favorite songs from the film, and listen to them while in rehearsal. There are mess-ups included as well, such as Judy Garland stopping to cough and restarting. Very neat feature to be included.

Leo Is on the Air Radio Promo (12:27)

Good News of 1939 Radio Show (1:01:03)

12/25/1950 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast (1:00:50)

Sing-Along with the movie
Select a specific song, or have it play throughout the film.

Another Romance of Celluloid: Electrical Power (10:32) (SD)

Cavalcade of the Academy Awards Excerpt (2:14) (SD)
Footage from the Academy Awards, in which Judy Garland among others was honored.

Texas Contest Winners (1:26) (SD)

Off to See the Wizard Excerpts (3:57)
During the 1967 television season, ABC had a primetime hour called 'Off to See the Wizard'. Included are four cartoon segments during the show, as well as segments promoting the next movie.

Stills Galleries

Trailers (SD)
Includes 1939, 1940, two 1949, 1970, and 1998 trailers for the film.

Harold Arlen's Home Movies (4:40) (SD)
Footage from Harold Arlen during portrait sittings and visits to the set, this is very neat to see.

Outtakes And Deleted Scenes (SD)
Includes If I Only Had a Brain, If I Only Had a Heart, Triumphal Return to Emerald City, Over the Rainbow and The Jitterbug.

It's a Twister! It's a Twister! The Tornado Tests (8:17) (SD)
Raw footage shot for the tornado sequences in the film.

Disc 2:

Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman (34:07) (SD)
All about the fantastic Director Victor Fleming and all his fantastic works, from The Wizard Of Oz to Gone With The Wind.

L. Frank Baum: The Man Behind the Curtain (27:46) (SD)

Hollywood Celebrates It's Biggest Little Stars! (10:24) (SD)
All about the Munchkins, including the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Dreamer of Oz (1:32:48) (SD)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) (13:19) (SD)

His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz (1914) (59:07) (SD)

The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914) (43:15) (SD)

The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914) (50:43) (SD)

The Wizard of Oz (1925) (1:11:53) (SD)

The Wizard of Oz (1933) (8:13) (SD)

Disc 3 (Double-sided DVD):

MGM: When The Lion Roars
6-hour Award Winning Studio Chronicle

Disc 4:

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The PackagingBlu-news Summary
I cannot describe the excitement and anticipation I had for this release, and to be honest it lived up to all the high expectations I had set for it. I was not disappointed at all with the Blu-ray presentation, in fact I was surprised at how much more amazing it looked than I had expected. The restoration for this release is absolutely stunning and you can tell how much work was put into making the film look this clean.

The audio is also quite the revelation, never sounding so good until now. The lossless audio brings an added clarity that just wasn't there before. This release is also packed with so many extras and footage, making this truly the ultimate Wizard Of Oz release.

The Wizard Of Oz is one of my favorite films, and the film holds up extremely well for a 70 year old film. I also have to commend Warner for proving once again that older films benefit just as much as a new release film. To those who think the Wizard Of Oz won't benefit from a high-def transfer simply because of it's age, prepare to be proven wrong once you put in this beautiful disc.

The Wizard of Oz: Ultimate Collector's Edition is a 'Must Own' for any film or high-def enthusiast.

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