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The Wizard of Oz (SE)
DVD disk
Nov 4, 2005 By: JaneBlo
The Wizard of Oz (SE) order
Director:
Victor Fleming

Actors:
Judy Garland
Margaret Hamilton
Ray Bolger

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Dorothy Gale is a pretty, gingham wearing young teen living on a farm in Kansas with her Uncle Henry, Auntie Em and her dog Toto. One day, a tornado hits and Dorothy is swooped into the Land of Oz, along with her beloved Toto. There she has a colorful adventure filled with Witches and Munchkins, talking trees, wizards, flying evil monkeys, and last but not least, talking scarecrows, lions and tin men. Click the heels of your ruby slippers three times to be merrily transported into this beautiful, classic all-American fairy-tale and most treasured childhood story of all time. Then follow the yellow-brick road…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There may be a few people in the world that don’t like this movie, but I never heard of them. The film’s star Judy Garland (Dorothy) is a masterpiece, and her singing “Over the Rainbow” is the cherry on top. This film contains so many “classics” in terms of lines, scenes, and songs that I will only enumerate a few of them just to give you an idea: “There’s no place like home”, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your dog too”, and “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” among others. The songs are the world-renowned “Over the Rainbow”, as well as the Munchkin songs, the “Wicked Witch is Dead” song, the “If I only had a Heart, Brain or Nerve” song, and of course, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” because, because, because, because…because of the wonderful things he does. The scenes are the yellow-brick road, the Emerald City, the Munchkins in Munchkinland, the Wizard himself, and the tornado among others. This film was released in 1939 and starts out in sepia-colored tone, but switches to Technicolor as soon as Dorothy (and the viewer) enter the multi-colored, fantastical Land of Oz.

The film has similarities to the other classic children’s story, “Alice in Wonderland” right down to the color of the main character’s dress (blue). Also, both girls fall asleep and have wicked, crazy colorful dreams in which there are many drug references (mushrooms, talking flowers and trees and animals, poppies…). But unlike Alice, Dorothy is very American and great at singing. After all, Judy Garland was as good an actress as she was a singer. Once in Oz and Munchkinland and on her way to the Emerald City in search of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy encounters and joins her three closest friends in the movie: the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger). These four characters are internationally known and loved as this story written by L. Frank Baum is one of the most-loved children’s stories ever told. So, once at the Wizard’s pad, each of the four requires something crucial: The Tin Man needs a heart, the Cowardly Lion needs courage, the Scarecrow needs brains and finally, Dorothy needs to get back home to Kansas and Auntie Em. Will the Wonderful Wizard of Oz grant them their wishes?

I really liked the digitally restored quality of the visuals, they were amazing. The famous ruby slippers whose heels Dorothy clicks three times in order to return home to Kansas are featured in all their glory, restored digital glory. Such a film is worth restoring, but also being faithful to, in the sense that if anyone ever tried to remake this film, that would be a bad thing. You don’t mess with a perfect thing. John Waters himself wishes that a remake of this classic never be attempted and I agree with him.
THE EXTRAS
DISC ONE:

Audio Commentary by noted Oz historian and author John Fricke and cast: The narrator walks us through many of the fascinating moments from this film which is interspersed throughout with actual, rare archival interview clips from members of the cast and crew and their families.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook: As if you’re reading the book written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow. Certain aspects are different than in the book, such as in the book they are silver shoes, not ruby slippers. Narrated by Angela Lansbury. Approx. 10 minutes.

Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz: Technical information on the new restoration of this film, including all audio and video elements. Too technical for my fun, approx. 10 minutes.

We Haven't Really Met Properly: Character biographies of the nine main characters of the film, around two minutes each and a total of around twenty minutes long. A very well-done segment with lots of fun, unknown facts about each actor/actress interspersed with original footage of the time. We even find out about Toto being a “she” in real life. Narrated by A. Lansbury again.

Music and Effects only Track (no dialogue at all), Original Mono Track and Theatrical Trailers.

DISC TWO:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Making of a Movie: Hosted by Angela Lansbury and with reminiscences by at least a dozen people who participated in its making. Interesting fact that it cost around 2.6 million to make, considered very expensive in those days. And look at today’s movie budgets! Also, isn’t the title so cool sounding in German: Der Hexer Von Oz. Approx. 50 minutes long.

Memories of Oz: A half-hour look into the characters of the film, the music, the make-up, the costumes by Adrian, etc. The real actors who play the Munchkins (the Singer Midgets) reminisce in this feature and director John Waters’s opinions on the film are also featured. The dual nature of how the characters all start out in Kansas and end up in the Land of Oz is also discussed.

The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz: Director Peter Jackson, actor Sean Astin, and composer Randy Newman are just some of the folk who discuss many of the most interesting aspects of the film such as costumes (by Adrian), music, set design, special effects and songs. A cool 30 minute feature worth checking out.

Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz: Discussions on why this film is the great all-American classic with an overview of the entire Oz phenomenon. Narrated by Brittany Murphy and approx. half an hour long.

Harold Arlen’s Home Movies: Approx. 5 minutes of portrait fittings footage from the private film (16 mm. film) of Oz’s composer Harold Arlen.

Outtakes and Deleted Scenes: Five scenes that were not included in the final film product. Boring feature.

The Tornado Tests: Raw footage of the creating of the tornado by Buddy Gillespie and his special effects team. Important feature as the tornado is crucial to the story, but boring to watch. About 8 minutes long.

Off to See the Wizard: During the 1967 television season on ABC, a one-hour Wizard of Oz-based program was featured on Friday nights which was animated by Chuck Jones. Several animated segments of this show are featured here. A cool and fun feature of around 4 minutes.

Audio Vault: All audio related material such as songs, promos, radio excerpts and music are featured in full detail here. A very flat feature lasting approximately 15 minutes.

Stills Galleries: The worst feature ever, too long and includes way too many stills for even an insomniac to enjoy. Exaggerated and way too long to sit through unless you’re bored beyond belief.

Theatrical Trailers: Six different trailers as narrated by Angela Lansbury.

DISC THREE:

L. Frank Baum, The Man Behind the Curtain: A half hour biography of a very interesting man and author of this classic American tale.

The Wizard of Oz (1910): A 12-minute silent version of this film. Extremely cool feature.

The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914): Presented by The Em Gee Film Library, this version is approx. 30 minutes long and also very cool. Silent and black and white, naturally.

His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914): Presented by The Em Gee Film Library, another silent version of the film. About one hour long and personally, one of the absolute coolest features in this collection since I’m a huge fan of silent films.

The Wizard of Oz (1925): The longest feature at approx. 70 minutes long, this is also one of the coolest to check out. I really enjoyed all these silent versions, but the 1925 version was the best one.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
You’ll love the all-new version of this timeless film, with state of the art ultra-resolution picture quality and over ten hours of bonus extras. As Danny Peary of the “Guide for the Film Fanatic” says on the back of this DVD set, “The effect this Hollywood classic has had on Americans cannot be overestimated. The ultimate family picture…”. I couldn’t agree more. Certainly, this movie is one of my favorites, and one I hope my children will watch in the future as well.

This 3-disc set is fully loaded with absolutely everything a Wizard of Oz fan could ask for in terms of complete information on the film. I don’t know what else they could have added, because they simply have it covered. Therefore I believe this to be a very complete overview of the film, its entire history and influence over the decades. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who loves this movie, and to those of you who haven’t seen it, shame on you and here’s your chance to see it in all its glory.
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