For better or worse, 3D is all the rage right now. I thought I’d seen it all when a copy of Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder 3D” crossed my path. Words can’t begin to describe how ridiculous the idea is to me. Why does a classic movie like that need to be seen in three dimensions?
With every vaulted Disney film being converted to 3D, it was only a matter of time before one of the greatest masterpieces of all time got the treatment. If it worked for the prequel, why wouldn’t it work for the original? Therefore, it’s no surprise Warner Bros. has released “The Wizard of Oz 3D” on Blu-ray.
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a 3D TV, so I didn’t see it in that format. I’m sure it looks just as good as any post-converted 3D movie. There will be added depth to the picture for sure. The witch’s broom of fire will stick out of the screen and other classic moments in the film will leap out at the viewer.
My review of “The Wizard of Oz 3D” will concentrate on the high-definition conversion of the film presented for its 75th Anniversary in 2D. First, let it be known this is the same version released in 2009 for its 70th Anniversary. Of course the picture looks better than it ever has before. I have to say I was expecting there to be a little less grain than there is. I’m sure there’s no way to fix that when it comes to converting 70-year-old film to high-definition. I’m just happy it’s been preserved and cleaned up as well as it can be for future audiences to enjoy.
The 5.1 surround sound is something filmmakers in 1939 never even dreamed of or thought possible. It would be a great pleasure to see how they would have reacted to their under-estimated masterpiece now with the vivid sound effects and musical numbers bounding out at them from all directions. I’m not a fan of musicals at all, but even I make an exception in the case of “The Wizard of Oz.” The “Over the Rainbow” song is a bit tedious for me, but all the upbeat songs are a lot of fun.
Consumers will be very happy with the special features included on “The Wizard of Oz 3D” Blu-ray. Bonus material on the 3D disc include a 69-minute documentary entitled “The Making of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz” narrated by actor Martin Sheen. There’s also audio commentary provided by the late Sydney Pollack. It’s enhanced with interview clips from “Oz” historian and author John Fricke; actress Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) and her son Hamilton Meserve; actor Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow); actor Jack Haley (the Tin Man); John and Jane Lahr (children of actor Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion); performer Buddy Ebsen; Munchkin actor, Jerry Maren and many more. The isolated music and effects track and original mono track are found as well.
The 2D Blu-ray features the above audio commentary, isolated music and effects track and original mono track. It also includes Angela Lansbury narrating biographies of the cast and reading a condensed version of L. Frank Baum’s book accompanied with original art and presented much like a motion comic. Original recordings and outtakes, Sing-Along Mode, still galleries, trailers, a theater broadcast, and radio promotions round out the bonus material.
“The Wizard of Oz 3D” Blu-ray is the perfect combo pack for classic film collectors since you get the movie in both 3D and 2D versions. Everyone needs to experience the movie at least once in 3D. Even though I haven’t yet, I plan on finding a way to do so. The 2D version gives viewers the best possible presentation of the movie available right now. It’s a must-own item for any family’s home entertainment library.
“The Wizard of Oz 3D” is available now on Blu-ray in 2-Disc and Limited Collector’s editions..
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Blu-ray Review: “Oz the Great and Powerful”
Movie Review: “Oz: The Great and Powerful”
Blu-ray Review: ‘The Witches of Oz’