The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition)
70th Anniversary Special Edition, Special Edition
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The original 1939 classic film, brilliantly restored and remastered! In this charming film based on the popular L.Frank Baum novel, Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado's path and somehow end up in the land of Oz. Here she encounters some memorable friends and foes in her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz who everyone says can help her return home and possibly grant her new friends their goals of a brain, heart and courage. The Ultimate Collector's Editions are filled with bonus features, including over 16 hours of wonderful wizardry about this movie classic, the life and times of original author L. Frank Baum and other early screen adaptations of the Oz books - with such new-to-DVD delights as a documentary profile of director Victor Fleming, the TV-movie The Dreamer of Oz: Starring John Ritter, Annette O'Toole and Rue McClanahan and the 2007 Hollywood Walk of Fame Salute to the Munchkins.
When it was released during Hollywood's golden year of 1939, The Wizard of Oz didn't start out as the perennial classic it has since become. The film did respectable business, but it wasn't until its debut on television that this family favorite saw its popularity soar. And while Oz's TV broadcasts are now controlled by media mogul Ted Turner (who owns the rights), the advent of home video has made this lively musical a mainstay in the staple diet of great American films. Young Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), her dog, Toto, and her three companions on the yellow brick road to Oz--the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger)--have become pop-culture icons and central figures in the legacy of fantasy for children. As the Wicked Witch who covets Dorothy's enchanted ruby slippers, Margaret Hamilton has had the singular honor of scaring the wits out of children for more than six decades. The film's still as fresh, frightening, and funny as it was when first released. It may take some liberal detours from the original story by L. Frank Baum, but it's loyal to the Baum legacy while charting its own course as a spectacular film. Shot in glorious Technicolor, befitting its dynamic production design (Munchkinland alone is a psychedelic explosion of color and decor), The Wizard of Oz may not appeal to every taste as the years go by, but it's required viewing for kids of all ages. --Jeff Shannon
On the discs
The 2009 Wizard of Oz Two-Disc Special Edition DVD has the sharp 2005 restoration using Warner's Ultra Resolution process and an accompanying featurette on how it's done. The technicians also discuss how the sound was remixed, though that would have been more effective had it included surround-sound demonstrations (the featurette is in 2.0). Other features include a commentary track by critic John Fricke supplemented by vintage cast interviews (he offers a lot of trivia, and debunks the myth that Shirley Temple was ever close to getting the Dorothy role); profiles of nine cast members and clips of other movies they appeared in (including Toto); a lightly animated 10-minute storybook narrated by Angela Lansbury; and the original mono track and a music-and-effects track. New for 2009 is a sing-along track that you can turn on as you watch the movie or you can select from 10 numbers to sing along with karaoke-style subtitles. The second disc has the Lansbury-hosted documentary The Making of a Movie Classic; outtakes and deleted scenes, including Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" reprise and the home-movie recording of "The Jitterbug"; sketches and stills and composer Harold Arlen's home movies; audio underscores and radio programs; 1979 interviews with Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, and Jack Haley; 2001 and 2005 behind-the-scenes featurettes; a 1950 Lux Radio Theater broadcast; and other items too numerous to mention. --David Horiuchi
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition, the sound could not be more perfect. In fact, everything about this DVD is just extraordinary. And, on top of that, my granddaughter not only watched this with me but sat there as we explored one of the many 'extras' to listen to the songs over and over so she could memorize them. Nothing is sweeter than having the apple of your eye singing, "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" or "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as we're riding in a car.
My late mother, who was born in 1926, counted this movie as one of her favorites and could not wait to share it with her 4 children. I loved watching it with my 2 kids and now, another generation feels the same way. There is nothing worse than building up something and having that person say, 'meh' whether it's a restaurant or an attraction or a movie. So, it makes me happy that someone I adore also gives her stamp of approval on this movie that I hold so dear.
As for the feature, I don't think it has been presented any clearer, but it falls a bit short of my expectations. Unless I'm mistaken, this must be a result of the quality of the focus in the original film.
I do notice much more detail than I ever have before. I never noticed the turkey in front of the cage that flew past Dorothy's window as the tornado hits - I'm sure I can make it out on a standard definition transfer now, but until now I had never noticed it because it blended into the background. You can see Dorothy's freckles too. There are numerous details that you catch that you never caught before.
If you expect to see each individual brick of the yellow brick road in distant shots, don't necessarily count on it. Although cleaner than ever before, many images look a bit softer than what you would see in a modern production, but again this is what I blame on the cameraman's abilities, who I would make responsible only because my standard DVD of the last "Gone with the Wind" is from the same era, and the sharp, incredible detail is astonishing enough to easily see the lace on articles of clothing and so much more.
So either they're holding out on this release or it's as true to the original as it will possibly ever be. It does look astonishingly vibrant and wonderful, but just know going into it that this remarkable film is unfortunately shows its age. It is for this reason I deduct the one star (duly justified because the machine smooshed my exterior sleeve for the discs).
The audio, as astonishing as it is, presents a similar situation. The sound is truly magnificent. The munchkin's trumpets blare triumphantly, the witch really explodes into the scene with magnitude, the tornado tears through Kansas with no mercy sending chills down my spine like never before. The higher bit rate of the audio makes such a wonderful enhancement to the film. It also reveals the age in lower ranges such as during dialog, where it sounds somewhat distant, as if listening to an old Victrola. Would it be better to consider it rustic charm? That's what I'll do. On the plus side, there's no ambiguity when it comes to what was said - you can make out every word, as clear as a bell! With what there is to work with, I give the audio five stars, and reason to upgrade alone if you've got any sound system beyond built-in television speakers. I absolutely love how this movie sounds.
I'm not too much of a bonus features guy, but I have so far viewed the MGM standard DVD feature on side one about the historical aspects of the studio, narrated by Jean Luc Picard [Patrick Stewart] in a smoking jacket with a big, poufy handkerchief. It features MGM stars of yesteryear in rare interviews revealing insider details of the studio in its heyday. It makes for a very interesting addition to the package as well, and I do plan on eventually getting around to all the bonus features.
I recommend the "The Wizard of Oz" 70th Anniversary Limited Edition set for the magnificent feature and its wonderful presentation, and for the outstanding bonus materials that accompany it. It's well worth it in value for what you receive, and the experience is as good as it's going to get with the brilliant picture quality and the astonishingly remarkable audio.
movie with a passion. It is unfortunate that children today don't look forward to the innocence this movie offered when I was a child.We didn't
have video games back in my day. Just playing and being creative outside was all we required.
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