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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Literature > Musical > Comedy > Children > The Wizard Of Oz 4K (1939/MGM/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

The Wizard Of Oz 4K (1939/MGM/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- 1080p Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B* Film: B+

If you have been a fan of the original 1939 Wizard Of Oz in the last 10 years, you have been treated to some great releases of the film. Ten years ago for its 70th Anniversary, it finally arrived on Blu-ray based on the totally restored three-strip Technicolor version that was released around the 60th Anniversary and that batch of prints remains some of the best photochemical 35mm prints issued in the last 45 years, even if you include the best digital projection of any film made. Those prints have become valuable in the six-figure range if you can get one.

Then having spent the money for 8K scans of all three strips of that priceless camera negative, Warner created a 3D version when we had the big series of 3D discs and 3D movies hitting theaters. We reviewed that version and the new 2D version at this link for its 75th Anniversary:


In both cases, there were box sets and regular releases.

Now, it is the 80th Anniversary of the film and we are now in the 4K era of Ultra High Definition TV and discs, so Warner has issued the film in a stunning 4K edition and whereas I felt the 2D version on the 3D disc allowed you to see the color and money on the screen like never before, this new 4K edition does so in an even richer, more profound way and is easily the definitive way to see the film, unless you have one of those real 35mm three-strip prints I was talking about before.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.33 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image has the early part of the film still in sepia-toned black and white to suggest the dust and age of the old farmland of Kansas where Dorothy lives in 'real life' which only has so much going for it and is only so exciting. When you tint or tone a black and white film, it can look nice in the chosen color, but it cuts into the definition and depth. Though this is the most refined way you can see this early part of the film, as rich as that single color can be, you also can see some limits from that process.

Now, when in 4K you jump from that to color (especially in 12bit Dolby Vision color), it is stunning as the film is designed to be when Dorothy arrives in Oz, but you can get the jolt here all over again since it is the transition to color is even richer and more pronounced as the depth, detail and fullness of the image remain, then the Technicolor kicks in and you will be floored all over again as if you never saw it before. It is so vivid, it looks like it was shot decades sooner than 1939, the color as definitive of 'Glorious Technicolor' as you'll find on any disc in print or ever made all the way to the Criterion Blu-ray of The Red Shoes.

Then each actor turns up in their classic rolls looking better than ever and it becomes more than just never having seen it before like this or with the best color you have ever seen it in, but like you are there, more than any previous 2D version and definitely the 3D version. More than just 3D without the glasses, it is really like being in Oz. The better your system, the better the effect. It is amazing and anyone with a serious 4K system need to get this disc.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer comes from the 8K scans of the three Technicolor negatives Warner made a few years ago for preservation purposes and the 3D edition, but you can really see the benefit of scanning the original nitrate negatives this way. Some actually thought the 8K was more than the film needed, but 8K is actually the least any film negative should eventually be scanned at, though plenty of 2K and 4K scans have looked great and those keep coming in too.

The dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor process remains the greatest of all time and is much duplicated, as well as being a palette for all kinds of color restoration. Warner will use this for all theatrical engagements henceforth.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix from the previous editions is also here, but I think it sounds a bit better here since it is a soundmaster they have likely retransferred (maybe at a higher bitrate?) and is as fine as the original monophonic soundmaster will likely ever sound.

As for extras, I already noted the various editions released each of the last few anniversaries and a 4K box set has been issued, but it looks like it will be harder to get than usual. With that said, the extras for this double set include what is included in each formatted version:

The Wizard of Oz Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

Commentary by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren.

1990 CBS Special ''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.''

The Wizard of Oz regular Blu-ray has those extras and adds:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (narrated by Angela Lansbury)

We Haven't Really Met Properly...

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Frank Morgan"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Ray Bolger"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Bert Lahr"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Jack Haley"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Billie Burke"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Margaret Hamilton"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Charley Grapewin"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Clara Blandick"

o We Haven't Really Met Properly: "Terry"

Music & Effects Track

Original Mono Track

Sing Along Tracks

Audio Jukebox

Leo is on the Air Radio Promo

Good News of 1939 Radio Show

12/25/1950 Lux Radio Broadcast

Stills Galleries

o Oz on Broadway

o Pre-MGM

o Sketches and Storyboards

o Richard Thorpe's Oz

o Buddy Ebsen

o Oz Comes to Life

o Behind the Scenes

o Portraits

o Special Effects

o Post Production

o Deleted Scenes

o Original Publicity

o 8/15/1939 Hollywood Premiere

o 8/17/1939 New York Premiere

o 2/29/1940 Academy Awards Ceremony

o Oz Abroad

o Oz Revivals

and Trailers

*That box set noted above has even more than this set, including a CD and some other goodies, so diehard fans will want to hunt that one down, but this is still a solid set and any 4K copy of Oz is more than worth your time!

- Nicholas Sheffo


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