Wow, it’s crazy that the classic film The Wizard of Oz was released 80 years ago. Seems like yesterday when I was younger and it was celebrating its 50th anniversary with collectible commemorative plates and such. It was only a matter of time before it got the 4K restoration it deserved, and Warner Bros. nails it with this 4K release that will have old fans loving it all over again while newcomers get to see what the yellow brick road is all about.
For those who have never seen this classic, it’s based on the popular L. Frank Baum book and follows the life of Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland in the role that shot her to stardom), a young girl living on a farm in Kansas who decides to run away from it all during a bad storm and gets caught in tornado. After waking up, she discovers that her and her dog Toto are in the magical land of Oz, where witches, munchkins, and other fantasy beings reside. Of course Dorothy isn’t too thrilled about this and just wants to go home, but she’ll have to go on a quest to reach the famed Wizard of Oz in Emerald City and ask for his help on how to get back.
Thankfully she has the aid of one of the kind witches that gives her a pair of magical ruby slippers, and she meets some odd yet familiar-looking folks along the way such as the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley), and the Cowardly Lion (Bret Lahr). They band together as they all have something they wish to ask the wizard, but they’ll have to get past the evil wicked witch of the west (Margaret Hamilton) and her minions, as well as their own doubts and fears if they ever want their wishes to come true.
I can honestly say that it felt as though I were watching this film again for the first time as Warner Bros. really knocked it out of the park with the beautiful 4K HDR transfer. It was already a fun gimmick when the first part of the film is shot in black and white and turns to color once Dorothy arrives in Oz, but now both parts look equally amazing thanks to all of the vivid new details UHD brings. The red slippers never looked more sparkly, and the evil witch never looked more green with evil than in this version. The Dolby HD audio is also amazing, as all of the fun and memorable dialogue and songs sound rich and crisp that has to be heard to be believed.
There’s a ton of special features comprised of original material found on previous releases of the film, but some of them have been upgraded to high definition which shows how committed Warner Bros was to releasing the ultimate version of this classic. There’s audio commentary by numerous people who were either part of the making of the film or grew up watching it not long after its release in 1939, and loads of behind the scenes and the making of featurettes, as well as other fun extras such as the original mono audio track that will keep fans and film historians busy for hours.
Family and friends young and old can’t go wrong with The Wizard of Oz as it’s a timeless classic loved the world over for a reason. It was already a fun adventure back in 1939, but now thanks to the loving care Warner Bros. and other people have put into making it look and sound even better than ever in 4K, it will easily stand the test of time for another 80 years and beyond for generations to come to enjoy and pass on.