The economy has gone to hell, but you can still afford to splurge on the latest in High Definition treats. The CHUD Home Entertainment Team has taken upon themselves to draft the Top 25 Blu-Rays released in Region A thus far. From the 1st of December until Christmas, we’ll count down to the greatest Blu-Ray release of all-time. Join us and marvel at the treasures of the 1080p set.
LIST POSITION: #3
TITLE: The Wizard of Oz
Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton
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WHY IT’S ON THE LIST
The Wizard of Oz was a watershed achievement in motion picture history when it came out. Over 70 years later, it is still one of the greatest fantastical movies of all time. From the opening scenes, rendered in a sepia tone, of Dorothy as she feels unloved and ignored to the amazing Technicolor landscape of Oz, this movie remains a highlight of a time gone by.
Last year, my wife and I went to see The Wizard of Oz in theaters with the new restoration right before this Blu-Ray was released. Seeing it in a theater on the big screen blew me away. This movie, at 70 years old, looks immaculate. When I received the Blu-Ray in the mail from Amazon, I popped it right in and it looks just as amazing.
There are few movies deserving of the love and dedication it took to restore this movie to such a pristine state.
I’ll just take a few minutes to talk about the movie because there is not much to say about it that hasn’t always been said.
When The Wizard of Oz was released, it received scathing reviews. It is one of those cases where a movie took years before people appreciated it for the masterpiece it is. Child star Judy Garland was perfect in the role of the Kansas farm girl who ended up lost a long way from home. Her supporting cast, from the trio of Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley to the amazing Margaret Hamilton, were magnificent in their roles as well.
The movie is geared for kids and Rated G but there is enough in this movie to keep it a dark story, aimed just as much towards the adults in the audience. I don’t believe a movie with the themes of this would receive a G Rating today, and that is a compliment.
The direction by Victor Fleming is also wonderful. The man released two of the most revered movies in cinema history with this and Gone with the Wind in the same year. There are questions about how much of the movie Fleming was responsible for but it still is a wonder that he put out such great movies in such short time.
The set pieces and choreography in the movie are also amazing and the restoration of this Blu-Ray really brings that to the forefront. From both the theatrical release and the Blu-Ray, the team that restored this movie should be commended because this looks breathtaking. The original footage was like nothing Hollywood had ever seen and it has been brought back to all its Technicolor glory.
There are movies made today with the latest in technology and equipment that can’t hold a candle to the look of The Wizard of Oz.
The edition I own is full of extras. Included with my boxed edition is a 52 page book with numerous photographs and literature from the release of the movie. That book is something I love and have looked over it many times since making the purchase.
On the Blu-Ray itself is a commentary track led by film historian John Fricke. Also distributed throughout the track are sound bites from most of the talent involved with the making of the movie. It is a fun listen that gives a lot of information you might not have known about the movie.
There are outtakes and deleted scenes presented in standard definition as well as a 51-minute making of. Unfortunately, the making of is also in standard definition but that presents the viewer with a fun game. I watched clips from the making of and then immediately jumped to that scene in the movie and was amazed again at how incredible the Blu-Ray restoration of the movie is. The scenes are night and day and make me appreciate the restoration process even more.
There is also four hours of extra features on the first Blu-Ray alone.
The second Blu-Ray features a number of interesting features as well. The John Ritter TV movie The Dreamer of Oz is included in its entirety. There are also features looking at Victor Fleming and L. Frank Baum that average a half hour each and six shorter films centering on the Oz universe, one of which was directed by Baum himself.
The third Blu-Ray is the monstrous 1992 documentary called When the Lion Roars. This is a six-hour documentary about the rise and fall of MGM. For fans of cinema history, this is one of the most rewarding documentaries you might ever see.
WHY DIDN’T IT RANK HIGHER?
The only reason this did not rank higher on the list is because the two above it are so amazing. The Wizard of Oz on Blu-Ray is something any movie lover should own. It’s that damn good.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENT
The six-hour documentary about the rise and fall of MGM is amazing. However, I really enjoyed the 51-minute making of the movie, despite its inferior picture quality. There is a lot to love about this release.
It’s just a brief restructuring plan. Everything is fine. FINE! The check is in the mail.
Limited technology is the Lulz.
Tornado (n): Proof that natural selection is real.
I see in my crystal ball, something terrible. Your daughter is going to marry a homosexual not once, but twice. She’ll have small career highlights, but she’ll remain a camp figure until the day she dies. You’ll crash and burn harder than the Challenger. Don’t get the reference? Well, you’ll be dead by then…who cares?!?
By accepting this medal, you automatically re-enroll into whatever crazy adventure that this girl dreams up. If you reject this medal, we take your legs and beat you with them. The Marines call it a Kabul Tomahawk.