So seeing it restored for a high definition Blu-Ray release was a revelation!
Technicolor Dreams and Black & White Nightmares is the collection the cartoon is released on. It was delayed in release to ensure every featured cartoon looked its absolute best. (Screen captures are from the DVD edition.)
The title is very well earned. All of these cartoons date from 1917 to 1947, a very different time in cartoon animation. Without strict regulations, animators let their imaginations go wild, and in such an experimental time, you can see many styles develop. Thus, you have beautiful cartoons such as "Mendelssohn's Spring Song," to some with disturbing undertones, such as "The Magic Mummy." Some of the DVD-exclusive cartoons get quite disturbing, such as a Mutt and Jeff cartoon featuring a long line of stray cats and dogs being caught and fed to a sausage grinder.
The cartoon also has three other distinctions: it is the first animated adaption of Oz, the earliest existing color Oz film, and the first Oz film with sound. And—as you'll see in a moment—it had a motif that later appeared in the MGM film.
Shortly, they find a rusted Tin Woodman, who is quickly oiled (his cap is his oil can here) and brushed off with a clump of the Scarecrow's straw. He then points out that they are not far from the Emerald City. After taking in some sights, they enter the city, where they are greeted with a parade before being shown to the Wizard's palace.
People wonder why the Cowardly Lion, Wicked Witch and Silver Shoes don't appear. The answer is simply that this wasn't a straightforward adaptation, but an entertainment based on the public's knowledge of Oz. The Lion was not a major character in the famous stage production, and the Wicked Witch and Silver Shoes were nonexistent. Thus, Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were the four major characters to focus on. Good or bad, the production is what it is, and is actually quite enjoyable, and now looks even better than ever on this Blu-Ray/DVD set.
"But wait," you might be saying, "how much better does it look?"
Well, here's a screen capture from Warner Brother's presentation, specifically the 2009 Emerald Edition DVD.
This does bring up a wish of mine that all of the existing pre-1939 Oz films could get high definition home video releases. Maybe a certain company specializing in silent films on Blu-Ray can take care of the 1910-1925 films, while I hope the Meglin Kiddies Land of Oz eventually gets a public release.
So, should you put down the $18 + shipping for this set? I already have, but the fact is clear that the Oz cartoon is one of many featured cartoons on this set, so Oz fans who aren't too interested might be giving this a pass. Diehard Oz fans will snatch it up just for the Oz content alone, while Oz fans who also enjoy classic animation will find the set a treat. It can be easily found with a search on Amazon.