Directors: Victor Fleming
Studio: MGM / Warner Bros.
Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
Let’s start a hunt right now for the crew that came up with the notion to give the 3-D and IMAX restoration treatment to the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. Why? Because, despite the fears of many a film purist who had practically called for heads on pikes when Warner Bros. announced a 16-month restoration process, The Wizard of Oz blown up on a ginormous screen with 3-D effects turns out to be a full-on wow experience. By now, the movie’s credentials as a time-tested family fantasy perennial are ironclad.
Based on the book by L. Frank Baum, adapted by an army of screenwriters, at least five directors and made at the pinnacle of MGM’s powers as a Hollywood giant, the movie is everything contemporary fantasy films rarely are—richly imaginative; beautifully structured; filled with superb, witty songs and dialogue and wised-up but full of heart.
Then there are those indelible, full-out performances from Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke and Frank Morgan, among others. To boot, it’s also one of the head-trippiest movies of all time. But this beautifully buffed, subtle, painstaking and classy 2013 restoration is definitely a horse of a different color. Not only does the movie look and sound sparkling, but watching it is also now an almost immersive and startlingly intimate experience. We don’t simply enjoy, marvel and fret during the discontented little Kansas farm girl's journey through Munchkinland, the Haunted Forest and the Emerald City.
The size, sound and dimensionality now make us feel like we’re traveling right along with her and the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. If you love the old 2-D, non-IMAX version of The Wizard of Oz, join the club. It’s not going away. But kick your doubts to the curb alongside the Yellow Brick Road if you doubted that the movie was ready for its multidimensional close-up. It’s only playing in IMAX theaters for a week, and, trust us, it’s more than worth the trip.