I may be stripped of all credibility for admitting this but prior to this past week I had never seen The Wizard of Oz from start to finish. In all fairness, I thought I had. As it turns out the movie I remembered seeing was actually Michael Jackson’s The Wiz (My wife didn’t understand why I was so adamant that the flying monkeys were supposed to be wearing roller skates, this would be why). So this past week I popped in the latest Blu-Ray release of ‘Oz’ which Warner Bros. was kind enough to send me and began my trip down the yellow brick road.
I don’t think I really need to go in-depth with a review of a film which is the accepted definition of Hollywood classic so I’ll keep my thoughts on the film to a few lines. In short, the reasons for which this film garnered the reputation we all know is still readily apparent some 70 years later. Judy Garland is surprisingly easy to watch for the modern viewer as her performance doesn’t have that over acting feel that many of the stars of that time gave due to working mostly in silent film and stage where you HAVE to over act. She’s just gorgeous, genuine, and innocent the three most important factors for someone taking that role. I’m stumbling here on how to point out my favoirites without writing a whole review but the song and dance numbers have to be next on the list. The one place where you loose most adult men is at the musical theater portion. The song’s are kept important but short and the whole thing is lifted miles thanks to the performances, the kind of film that will have you saying to yourself “Am I really ENJOYING this?? I’m a 30year old man!. Yes you will, and I’ll explain why. Simply put, no matter how old you get that little kid you lost so long ago isn’t gone, just laying dormant until the proper time. Movies like Wizard of Oz have the perfect mix for pulling the inner child to the front. A movie about never giving up, how friends are good to have, and not judging others without knowing them and of course, that there’s no place like home.
The Blu-Ray is what I watched and am I glad that I waited until Warner Bros. was ready to release the film to see it. The Blu-Ray transfer provided by Warner Bros. is hands down the best transfer I’ve ever seen. Usually if you transfer a particularly old medium to something higher res, like blu-ray, some things are much crisper, others just simply show its age whether it’s from degradation of the film or simply that the props weren’t made to be seen that clearly. This is not the case with Wizard of Oz, the transfer is so amazingly flawless you can at the same time feel what it was like to see this on opening day and imagine you’re on set…it looks that good, honestly I can’t lodge one sincere complaint against either the audio or the video, 10/10 on both. The audio is actually much more important than you would think…the right from the studio clarity with which the songs are brought into your home really brings you inside the world of Oz as opposed to watching some 70 year old film in your livening room. Oh, you are a special features buff you say? Got ‘em by the truck load and then some with great features, commentary tracks, even a sing-a-long version that would be great for introducing the little ones to Dorothy and her magical time in the land of OZ.
Quite simply I’m amazed. Something done SO lo-tech, SOOO long ago, still maintains the same level of magical wizardry on its viewers. I couldn’t be happier suggestions this as viewing material for your little ones, with all that’s going on in our faced paced world we have to work harder and harder to preserve the innocence of our children so that they may have a chance at enjoying their childhood fully, as is their right, as is our duty.
Film 10/10 Audio/Video- 10/10 Special Features 6/10