THE WIZARD OF OZ Celebrates 80 Years with Magnificent 4K Blu-ray

We’re off to see The Wizard in Ultra High Definition with HDR10+

The Wizard of Oz released to 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray from Warner Bros Entertainment on October 29.

Note the screenshots in this review are taken from the Blu-ray disc and are not representative of the 4K image.

Like most kids I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz from time to time, usually as a perennial TV event, but aside from checking out the Dark Side of the Moon synch-up in college (an altogether different experience that doesn’t really count), I don’t think I’ve seen it since childhood.

As a youth, I kind of lost interest in the film after reading the novel, deeming it inaccurate. But viewing it now, I realize its subtext (heck, its text) is much richer than I ever realized. Decidedly different, but also with its own cohesive theme that works beautifully in this dream logic context.

Dorothy and her three Vaudevillian companions (who, like the Witch and the Wizard, mirror the real-life people she encounters in Kansas) each seek a particular missing piece of themselves that they believe will fix their perceived brokenness (a brain, a heart, da noive, a home) — but they already have that which they seek. Though he seeks a brain, the Scarecrow is the most cunning member of the team, constantly making plans and formulating strategies. The Tin Man seeks a heart, yet demonstrates great passion from the very moment we meet him. The Cowardly Lion is outwardly fearful, but stands up when it matters — perhaps what he really needed was motivation. And Dorothy, of course, who ran away, has her home to return to, and family and friends who love her.

Obviously none of these are incredible insights (the movie even points them out), but they’re the sort of thing I missed as a kid and have really loved to discover on a late revisit.

The 4K presentation certainly brings out the detail of the picture. I’m amazed by the incredible makeup effects employed on Dorothy’s companions. Tin Man truly looks like a being of rusty metal. Scarecrow’s elaborately detailed face paint, which allows his expressiveness to be conveyed, is almost indistinguishable from the frilly cloth of his sack head, and while the Cowardly Lion’s makeup is the most whimsically comical with its pronounced jowls, his actual costume looks stunningly realistic (as I’ve learned from the disc’s features, it was constructed from actual lion skins).

In some spots the great detail does also show some seams — the Munchkins’ bald caps and various set backdrops and matte paintings demonstrate a degree of artifice — but what a worthwhile trade-off.

The Package

Celebrating its 80th Anniversary, one of MGM’s crown jewels, The Wizard of Oz, makes its way to 4K UHD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers. This is a true 4K presentation, restored from an 8K scan (I believe this to be the same version used on the 75th Anniversary). The package includes the 4K disc, a Blu-ray Disc, and Digital Copy. My copy included a slipcover which has an eye-catching holofoil design.

The included Blu-ray is the full 75th Anniversary edition, an extremely packed disc with a feature length making-of doc, many varied extras from over many decades, tons of vintage radio content, and possibly the biggest stills gallery I’ve ever seen.

Special Features and Extras — 4K Disc

  • Commentary
    Hosted by Sydney Pollack and commentary by John Fricke, with lots of archival audio from many other cast and crew also inserted . Fricke proves exceptionally knowledgeable and the expertly curated archival bits peppered in that provide dimensionality and primary-source perspectives (and a fair bit of humor).
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: the Making of a Movie Classic (51:39)
    A 1990 television production hosted by Angela Lansbury. Note this feature is not on the Blu-ray disc.

Special Features and Extras — Blu-ray Disc

  • Commentary (the same)
  • The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1:09:02)
    2013 feature-length making-of documentary narrated by Martin Sheen mixes new and old interviews for a modern retelling of the film’s creation
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (10:27)
    An reading by Angela Lansbury depicting the illustrations with limited animation
  • We Haven’t Met Properly… (21:23)
    Supporting cast profiles highlighting the careers of Frank Morgan (Wizard), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Bret Lahr (Cowardly Lion), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Billy Burke (Glinda), Margaret Hamilton (The Witch), Charlie Grapewin (Henry), Clara Blandick (Em), and Terry (Toto)
  • Music and Effects Track
  • Original Mono Track
  • Sing-Along
    “Sing-Along with the movie” or “Select a Song” from the full list
  • Audio Jukebox
    A novel feature to listen not only to the film’s soundtrack, but also some extra bits of rehearsals and tests, and music removed from the final cut
  • Leo is On The Air Radio Promo (12:25)
  • Good News of 1939 Radio Show (1:01:01)
  • 12/25/1950 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast (1:00:49)
  • Stills Galleries
  • Trailers
    1939 “What is Oz?” Teaser (:32), 1940 Lowes Cairo Theater Trailer (1:59), 1949 Reissue Trailer (2:50), 1949 “Grownup” Reissue Trailer (2:22), 1970 Children’s Matinee Reissue Trailer (1:35), 1998 Reissue Trailer (2:05), 2013 75th Anniversary Trailer (2:30)

A/V Out.

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Buy The Wizard of Oz 4K UHD Blu-ray

All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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