THE WIZARD OF OZ: 70TH ANNIVERSARY 2-DISC SPECIAL EDITION
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
Judy Garland as DOROTHY GALE
Frank Morgan as THE WIZARD
Ray Bolger as THE SCARECROW
Bert Lahr as THE COWARDLY LION
Jack Haley as THE TIN MAN
Billie Burke as GLINDA
Margaret Hamilton as THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST
Studio: MGM/Warner Bros.
Directed by: Victor Fleming
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is just a small and meek girl from Kansas who dreams to travel “over the rainbow” and find a fascinating world. When a twister hits her farm, she gets her chance. The tornado lifts up her house and transports her and her dog Toto to the Land of Oz, which is full of fascinating and magical creatures. In order to get home, she joins with the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man to seek the help of the Wizard of Oz, who might be able to get her home. On the way, they make enemies with the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants revenge for Dorothy’s house crushing her sister.
WHAT I LIKED
What’s not to like about “The Wizard of Oz.” It is one of the greatest movies ever made, and even today it stands the test of time as a quality family flick. Although it takes great liberties from the original book, it is a brilliant piece of work and has contributed more to our ongoing popular culture than almost any other film in American history.
This is a sweet story that can be enjoyed on many levels by people of all ages. I remember empathizing with the Tin Man as a younger child, but moving on to the Scarecrow in my later years. I’ve shown it to my kids several times, and they love it as well. Growing up in the days before VCRs, I remember the television broadcast of this film was an annual favorite of mine which I almost never missed.
There are themes in this film that children can relate to, about being an individual and being grateful for your own family. Still, there are greater themes that adults can relate to as well, including the loss of innocence and the dreaming of a child.
“The Wizard of Oz” has some of the most endearing songs in cinema history (with the exception of the “If I Were the King of the Forest,” which I never liked), and you can’t help but sing them to yourself after even your umpteenth viewing of the film.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not to knock on a classic, but let’s face it… this is the ultimate “it was all a dream” ending. I don’t remember this from the original book, and I loved the series as a whole. There is a certain part of me that wishes we could have a more true adaptation to the novel, which was achieved to a certain degree with “Return to Oz.”
So, the cliche ending (which wasn’t really a cliche when the film was made, of course) aside, there’s very little I can complain about.
This 70th Anniversary edition of the film has been released on both DVD and Blu-ray. The Blu-ray includes a massive boxed set with dozens of hours of special features. A trimmed down DVD release includes two discs with the restored film, which looks fantastic on both formats.
Disc one includes the movie with a commentary by historian John Fricke. There’s a restoration featurette and a video storybook as well as supporting cast profiles.
Disc two includes the TV specials “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic” and ‘Memories of Oz.” There’s also several featurettes on the archiving of the picture, the making of the film and a retrospective of the film. Additional features include home movies, outtakes, deleted scenes, loads of stills, audio recording sessions, radio shows, promos and theatrical trailers.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Kids at heart and fans of the film.