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The Wizard Of Oz (4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review)

One of the most anticipated films in any format or technology advancement will forever 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. And finally, it has come to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. Celebrating its 80th year, it certainly was time to introduce it in the best of ways possible. The poster child for the most fabled year in cinema history, the film luckily is a part of the Warner Bros library, who takes care of their catalog titles. Though, I’d imagine anyone with rights to this masterpiece would take good care, but you never know. In fact, this one was restored and transferred with an 8K 16-bit scan for this release from the original Technicolor negative. The 4K disc of the set also carries along the 1990 CBS special about making the film, which is a nifty bonus. You’ll be able to own the film in its best presentation yet, when it hits store shelves, both physically and virtually (Well, warehouses, am I right?) on October 29th (Witches=Halloween).  You can pre-order from the Amazon link below which, of course helps me out.

Film 

When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical land of Oz. They follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, and en route they meet a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) that needs a brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley) missing a heart, and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who wants courage. The wizard asks the group to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) to earn his help.

The Wizard of Oz is absolutely magical. No, I’m not the first person to say that. In the history of cinema, its unquestionably one of the most remarkable achievements ever put on celluloid. Its the ultimate movie of all movies. As someone enamored with film and television production, a fan of the artist, imagination and crafting fantasy, the film offers absolutely EVERYTHING possible. Some may feel they outgrow it or be too cool for children’s/family films, but you cannot deny the power of this one. Its legacy and continued discovery and cherished love still to this day have only proven such.

Its crazy there is so much here going on in this one film. This is such an ambitious motion picture, its crazy. When I say its the ultimate film, its such because everything is done in such a cinematic way. While the film’s story revolves around illusions and imagination, the production of the film relies on such as well. Nothing here, aside from the actors is real. Its all fabricated. The whole thing is shot in a studio, using practical effects make-up, stunts, well built sets and camera tricks to bring the story to life. Everyone in the film buys into it and sells the whole damn thing as genuine. The vibe provides a wonderfully charming, dreamy fantasy that truly sucks you in and lets you just ease back and take a ride. There’s only one striking moment that occurs with the Scarecrow carrying a gun, but aside from the little “WOAH” moment, everything else works in its own regards.

For a film that I saw PLENTY during my childhood and have consistently returned to over the years, I still find myself seeing new details, having a new take and appreciation and overall never feeling a dull moment. Its a monumental event movie that was a complete gamechanger for film. Its up there with such big movies that pushed the technological/thematic process of film forward where nothing was the same ever afterward like Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and The Matrix. Its forever important and one of my absolute favorite films as I’m sure it is with many many many many others in this world as it continues to warm, entertain and inspired 80 years later.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC/ H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: The Wizard of Oz debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a brand new transfer. For this release, there was an 8K 16-bit transfer done from the original Technicolor negative. The image looks absolutely outstanding. Details are insanely strong and you can find them at every turn and every shot distance. Its a sharp and crisp image with a natural cinematic look. This is a truly rich experience to look at and Warner Bros has done a hell of a job with this and The Shining this month.

Depth: Depth of field is absolutely terrific here in the transfer, and you can see how it easily lent itself to a 3D Blu-ray a few years back. Movements are smooth, camera pans are incredibly confident and the background really holds its own in terrific fashion appearing pushed back from the foreground sets.

Black Levels: Blacks are well saturated, natural and present more definition to the image. The opening sepia sections look of a classic, artful beauty more than ever before. No crushing present.

Color Reproduction: The Wizard of Oz is known for how colorful and beautiful, and this transfer absolutely nails it. Everything pops but also feels natural as well. Reds, blues, greens and any sort of striking color does such. HDR handsomely puts for fire and colored smoke to good glowing effects.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and are consistently timed from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are beautifully clean and visible where you can see make-up brush strokes and if you look hard enough you can see some of the workings of the prosthetic work on the creatures in the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) Mono Dolby Digital, Czech Mono Dolby Digital, Hungarian Mono Dolby Digital, Russian Mono Dolby Digital, Arabic Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish (Latin America), Thai, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Polish, Arabic

Dynamics: The Wizard of Oz was not granted a new Atmos track for its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray makeover. It retains the previous DTS-HD MA track that was one in the form of Dolby TrueHD. Its a perfectly done track anyway, so that’s not a bad thing. And taking this originally mono track any further would probably be overkill for the film or get a bit too slap happy revisionist and not hold the film to any sort of its own true form.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Musical beats, crashing, fire and loud booms all have the subwoofer giving a nice bump.

Surround Sound Presentation: This one plays around up front mostly, but it does whisp around the room and feature some nice, unique contributions from the rear channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, carrying a bit of their little analog sound to them in terms of a little muffle here or there.

Extras 

The Wizard of Oz comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy code for the film.

4K UHD

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.

1990 CBS Special “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.” (SD, 51:38) – Hosted by Angela Lansbury, this provides a pretty definitive retrospective look back at making the movie, with plenty of interesting tid bits and factoids. There is plenty about the cast, key players, story background and legacy of the film. I actually remember seeing this the night it premiered and taping it.

Blu-ray

The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (HD, 1:09:02)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (SD, 10:27)

We Haven’t Really Met Properly… (SD, 21:23)

Music & Effects Track

Original Mono Track

Sing-Along

Audio Jukebox

Leo is on the Air Radio Promo (HD, 12:25)

Good News of 1939 Radio Show (HD, 1:01:01)

12/25/1950 Lux Radio Broadcast (HD, 1:00:48)

Stills Galleries

  • Oz on Broadway
  • Pre-MGM
  • Sketches and Storyboards
  • Richard Thorpe’s Oz
  • Buddy Ebsen
  • Oz Comes to Life
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Portraits
  • Special Effects
  • Post Production
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Original Publicity
  • 8/15/1939 Hollywood Premiere
  • 8/17/1939 New York Premiere
  • 2/29/1940 Academy Awards® Ceremony
  • Oz Abroad
  • Oz Revivals

Trailers 

Summary 

The Wizard of Oz will always remain one of the greatest films ever made as it continues to dazzle for generations upon generations. It truly is “magic”. Warner Bros update of the film features a stunning new video transfer that is the highlight of this new edition. There’s an addition bonus feature to go along with all of the former ones. This new look for the film is well worth the price tag, as this film should always be seen in its best appearance possible.

Paid Link.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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