By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
The Wizard of Oz
I’m really impressed with The Wizard of Oz on Blu Ray. Let me qualify my expectations for it. If they had found some way to make it look like The Dark Knight, that would have been cool but it wouldn’t have been The Wizard of Oz. This Blu Ray is the perfect example of how to maintain the aesthetic of a classic but bring it up to HD standards.
The Wizard of Oz in HD
The opening black and white sequences actually appear sepia. There are gorgeous shades and you still see detail in the farmland, the planks of wood around the house, even Toto’s spiky frays of hair. You see grain, but they are pure, tiny evidences of film authenticity. The twister tinged sky stretches the ability to preserve the presentation, but it holds up.
Once the film goes to color, you still see grain but now it’s colored grain. The colors are so bright, it must be what Technicolor always imagined. It’s not a simulated reality but it elevates these colors that only existed on film stock back then. The yellow bricks are bright, the green leaves are deep, the flower petals shine. When the horse changes color, each one shines from purple to yellow to red. The lavender poppy fields glow with the studio painted sky in the background.
You see the crisp depth in the set so it’s more three dimensional. The dance numbers fill the screen and the background sets remain clear as characters prance across the foreground. You can tell where the backdrop of the soundstage wall is but still appreciate the detailed paint and construction.
Details are priceless as you see the holes in the green makeup where flesh pokes through. The brush of Judy Garland’s red cheeks reveals her freckles. You see the detailed scarecrow makeup, the rusty Tin Man costume with a shiny painted face and the fur suit and face makeup of the lion. You’ll see the threads of all the fabric.
The sets are full of detail too. The apples shine against the wrinkly tree suits. The darker forest lighting is a distinct grade of contrast but still awesome. You can notice the bubbles of studio paint. The green Emerald City shines purely. You see the fuzz of the monkeys, the feathers of the castle guards. That castle model shot looks gorgeous, and the crusty walls of the interior set are exquisite. In the castle light, the Tin Man shines even greater.
There’s a lot to look at in The Wizard of Oz and Blu Ray has given the studio a reason, and viewers an opportunity to see it in more detail than ever before. That might have been an inconsequential distinction for previous releases, but on Blu Ray they really stepped it up for our enjoyment.