Posted 03 October 2009 - 10:48 AM
*The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition (Blu-ray)*
I got my Blu-ray Ultimate Collectors Edition box set from Wbshop.com and I must say, this is a very attractive package. After I carefully removed the plastic wrap, I could feel the excitement pouring out of the box as I opened the lid (the inside of which is decorated with a color photo of Dorothy , the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, The Lion, and the Wizard).
The first thing you see inside the box is the book, ?The Wizard of Oz: Behind the Curtain of Production 1060.? The book is slender (only 52 pages) but LAVISH in photos. This is truly a nice item to appreciate for the on-set photos, script excerpts, and more.
Another item in this box set is a tin case holding the watch, which is actually quite nice looking (but I won?t be wearing it any time soon). (I did check and it does work fine.)
You will also find a very nice reproduction of the Campaign Book, filled with exploitation ideas and advertising from 1939. (Ah, so many great posters and standees that would be wonderful to own today.)
There is also a one-page budget sheet, which strikes me as an odd item to include.
There is also a digital copy disc, as well as some advertising sheets; one of which is for the upcoming Gone with the Wind Ultimate Collectors Edition set.
(Note: this Oz UCE does not include postcards or photos that are in exclusive packages issued by places like Amazon and Best Buy, but is otherwise the same.)
Then there is the heart of the whole thing, the case containing the lovely silver foldout containing the two Blu-ray discs and a double-sided DVD.
Now on to the movie itself. If you have been reading the reviews about how amazing, glorious, spectacular, etc. the restoration is?you don?t know the half of it until you see it. Warner Bros. has done a MAGNIFICENT restoration of the film. The Blu-ray release is sharply detailed, the colors are so beautiful that it makes every other motion picture look pale by comparison, and you can see jus the right amount of grain in the image to show all the fine details. I can barely tell you what a joy it is to watch this on Blu-ray, as my words fail me. The audio is available in its original mono or a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. For the latter, the audio separations come into play mostly with the music only sequences, but it is still a sound treat. There is also a ?Sing Along? feature available through the menu (according to the package insert, you will need a Blu-ray player that has BonusView or BD-Live capability?in other words, if you have a Blu-ray player that is only Profile 1.0, it will not play the sing-along feature).
And you?ll be glad to know that it looks like all of the extras available on the 2005 DVD set have been brought over and they are on both of the 2 Blu-ray discs (but in standard definition).
Disc 2 has the new documentary on ?Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman? and it is an interesting overview of the director?s career. Also new to the set is ?Hollywood Celebrates Its Biggest Little Stars!?, a featurette about the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the Munckins. A few of those actors who played the Munchkins attend the ceremony and offer their thoughts on the making of the movie and its afterlife.
Another new addition to this set not on the 2005 set is a 1990 TV-movie starring John Ritter as L. Frank Baum. ?The Dreamer of Oz,? is, if you have read the reviews elsewhere of this set , is quite poor in video quality. It looks like they wanted to add in everything they could that was Oz related for this 70th anniversary, and despite the picture quality it is watchable (with a screenplay by Richard Matheson). It begins and ends at the premiere of The Wizard of Oz at Graumann?s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with the stars being cheered on by the fans, but the arrival of Mrs. Baum (played by the lovely Annette O?Toole) is only recognized by one reporter who proceeds to interview her about their life together, leading into the longest flashback before the start of a movie premiere that I can recall.
Also on disc 2, they have carried over from the 2005 release silent versions of The Wizard of Oz stories, plus one new addition for this set??The Patchwork Girl of Oz? from 1914, a 51-minute movie.
The double-side DVD in the set contains the wonderful 6-hour documentary, ?MGM: When the Lion Roars.? This is a must-see.
You will find there are a number of versions of the 70th anniversary release in the stores, but not all contain all of the items, so my advice is to get one of the Ultimate Collectors Edition. But whatever you do, get some version where you get to see the movie in glorious high definition on Blu-ray.
This could go down as the Blu-ray release of the year (though we still have Snow White and GWTW still to go.)