Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The New Oz DVD...

Yeah, so this year marks the 70th Anniversary of MGM's The Wizard of Oz movie musical. I don't blog much about the MGM movie, very much for the reason that it's SO popular, almost everyone talks about it, so there's not much more you can say about it that hasn't been said before. And I also tend to shy away from things that are overtly popular. There's also how much I appreciate Baum's vision of Oz, and how I feel that while the MGM movie nicely retold the story, it did not present the same vision of Oz.

But anyways, as I am also an Oz movie collector, here is my sum-up and thoughts on the press release of the inevitable 70th Anniversary DVD release, which was just announced. (Please note I refer to the press release, which I've seen on the International Wizard of Oz Club's Message Board, and on an e-mail list.)

There's going to be three editions, a 2-disc DVD, a 4-disc DVD Collector's Edition, and the Blu-Ray Edition.

Disc 1 of the DVD contains everything the 2005 contained, plus a sing along feature (which, in my own opinion, will probably be pretty useless, seeing as you could probably get the same thing by watching the movie with subtitles).
(The following is what was on the 2005 edition's first disc.)
  • Audio Commentary hosted by John Fricke with archival audio interviews
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook
  • Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz
  • We Haven't Really Met Properly
  • Music and Effects Track
  • Original Mono Track

Disc 2 is exactly the same as Disc 2 of the 2005 edition.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic [1990 TV special]
  • Memories of Oz [2001 TCM documentary]
  • The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz
  • Because of the Wonderful Things it Does: The Legacy of Oz
  • Harold Arlen's Home Movies
  • Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
  • It's a Twister! It's a Twister! The Tornado Tests
  • "Off to See the Wizard" Clips
  • 3 Vault Shorts
  • Audio Jukebox Selection
  • Leo Is on the Air Radio Promo
  • Good News of 1939 Radio Show
  • 12/25/1950 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast
  • Still Galleries
  • Six Theatrical Trailers

Discs 3 & 4 is where new content finally turns up:

Disc 3's probably most-awaited feature is the 1990 movie "The Dreamer of Oz," based on the life of Oz author and creator L. Frank Baum. Also a new feature is "Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman," a documentary about the director whose name appears on the movie. (Albeit not the only director...)
"Celebrating Hollywood's Biggest Little Stars," a featurette about the midgets who portrayed the Munchkins, culminating with their receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Ported over from the 2005 DVD for this one is "L. Frank Baum: The Man Behind The Curtain," a short documentary that might get a little muddled in it's presentation, but is much more factual than "The Dreamer of Oz." There is also the 1910 silent movie "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," and the 1933 cartoon "The Wizard of Oz."

Disc 4 contains the other Oz silent movies. It's noted that "The Magic Cloak of Oz" (1914) will contain footage that has not been available on home video. The disc will also contain "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" from 1914, which was not on the 2005 DVD. So, directly ported over from Disc 3 of the 2005 is "His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz" (1914), and the 1925 "Wizard of Oz" silent movie.

The press release says "Blu-ray Hi-Def will have Discs 1 & 2 and Discs 3 & 4 combined," so don't expect the special features to be remastered in HD.

Also, exclusive to the Blu-Ray is a documentary called "MGM: When The Lion Roars."

And yeah, a "Digital Copy" will either be on one of the DVDs or on a bonus DVD-ROM.

And like the 2005 edition, actual print material and other physical items will be with the Collector's Editions:
  • Collectible and numbered 70th Anniversary Wizard of Oz watch with genuine crystals
  • Replica of the original film budget
  • Behind the Curtain, A 52-page, coffee-table book
  • Reproduction of the original 1939 campaign book

(This doesn't sound like it's going to contain the print materials from the 2005 DVD set. Those were reproductions of the premiere program, ticket, invitation, the issue of MGM studio news that featured "The Wizard of Oz," a Photoplay Studies Guide about the movie, reproductions of publicity photographs, and postcard-sized card that showed tiny versions of publicity posters.)

The release date for the sets is listed as September 29.

So, yeah, there's a bit of an upgrade from the 2005 edition, though I suspect casual movie fans might skip the DVD, unless they want "The Dreamer of Oz" and the bonus non-DVD goodies. (Me, I'm interested in the new version of "The Magic Cloak of Oz.") Oz collectors will probably get it and also hang on to the 2005 set. (MANY Oz fans have many copies of the movie on VHS, DVD, and laserdisc.)

People who are in to Blu-Ray will be glad that the Blu-Ray didn't skip anything from the old DVDs, though I doubt the one Blu-Ray-exclusive special feature will make people want to jump over to the new format.

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