The Wizard of Oz Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of The Wizard of Oz, from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, the classic and timeless film adapted from L. Frank Baum’s timeless children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 1939
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 102 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC: DV, HDR10+
Video Aspect: 1.37:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English/French/Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Music by: Herbert Stothart, E.Y. Harburg, Harold Arlen
Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 29, 2019

“There’s No Place Like Home”

Synopsis:

“One of the best-loved movies of all time, The Wizard Of Oz (1939) stars Judy Garland as Dorothy, a young Kansas farm girl who is whisked away by a twister to the land of Oz. Accompanied by a brainless Scarecrow, a heartless Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, follow the Yellow Brick Road seeking the Wizard of Oz, in order that he may grant her wish to return home.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

“Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s timeless children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz officially premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on August 15, 1939. The film was directed by Victor Fleming (who that same year directed Gone With the Wind), produced by Mervyn LeRoy, and scored by Herbert Stothart, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Ray Bolger appeared as the Scarecrow; Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman. Frank Morgan was seen in six different roles, including that of the “wonderful Wizard” himself. Dorothy was portrayed by a 4’11” sixteen year old girl who quickly earned her reputation as “the world’s greatest entertainer”– the incomparable Judy Garland.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

Based on L. Frank Baum’s treasured book series, The Wizard Of Oz was judged the best family film of all time by American Film Institute and literally needs no introduction. It truly is a timeless classic and a glistening diamond in American Cinema. It is a personal favorite that I never grow tired of watching and I am absolutely thrilled with the job that Warner Home Video has done in bringing it to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this latest offering that includes remastered video derived from a new 8K 16bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative.

The Wizard of Oz received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and captured two Oscars® — Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Original Score — plus a special award for Outstanding Juvenile Performance by Judy Garland. The film was an overwhelmingly popular and critical success upon its initial release and repeated its ability to captivate audiences when MGM reissued the film in 1949 and 1955. Released to wide acclaim and recognition, and with a long-lasting legacy in the film world, The Wizard of Oz owns a place in multiple AFI lists, including: 100 Years… 100 Movies (#6); 100 Years… 100 Thrills (#43); 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains (#4); 100 Years… 100 Songs (#1); 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (#4); and Greatest Movie Musicals (#3).

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

This is appropriate for general audiences and contains mild thematic elements.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

The Wizard of Oz comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

According to the press documentation The Wizard of Oz was remastered using state of the art technology to derive a new 8K 16bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative which became the basis for the 4K UHD scan. The process was overseen by MPI colorist Janet Wilson, who has overseen every remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Wizard of Oz has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of cinematography that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

The Wizard of Oz is a visually compelling film that successfully illustrates the look and feel of Victor Fleming’s vision. The video restoration featured on this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. This is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. The film’s gorgeous cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. Dorothy’s arrival in the land of Oz looks stunning and provides a glimpse of what lies in store.

Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. The rendering of the finest minutia in the film’s variety of textures are reproduced with stark realism. Captured on film, grain and minor innate softening are present. Neither are compromising.

The use of sepia in the film’s opening and closing segments is beautifully reproduced, while whites and grays appear gradational and vibrant. The quartet’s arrival in the city of Oz, after they pass through the gate and are being made more presentable before meeting the wizard, is the presentation’s spectacle. It shows off the video’s superb combination of color and fidelity.

The wide color gamut and crisp, bright, imagery, enrich the sense of fantasy and wonder when looking at the differing environs featured in the story. Fleshtones are reproduced beautifully throughout the course of the presentation. As impressed as I was with the previous restoration, I found this presentation took it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized.

This Ultra HD presentation is marvelous, adding a lustrous visual element to the experience of watching The Wizard of Oz. Ultra HD renderings like this should give fans contemplating the switch to an Ultra HD capable set up, the nudge they need.

Note: The Blu-ray bundled with this offering is the 2013 release.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player (both in DV and forced HDR10 playback). The title looked outstanding on both formats. I simply wasn’t disappointed with either and gave each my highest rating.

Multi-Channel Soundtrack:

The utilized the high resolution DTS-HD MA 5.1 channel mix which does a terrific job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialogue has appreciable vocal character and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes use of the entire system to deliver a rewarding audio experience that is highlighted by the richness and defining clarity of memorable musical set pieces and score. The surrounds are utilized for atmospheric extension while lightly applied dynamics and upper level bass combine to provide solidity that enhances the music without sounding unnatural. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation. It highlights the strengths of the source material without ostentatious display and sounds great.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: The Wizard of Oz Ultra HD Blu-ray
    • 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.”
  • Disc 2: The Wizard of Oz Blu-ray
    • Commentary- 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
    • The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    • 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
    • Trailers
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Based on L. Frank Baum’s treasured book series, The Wizard Of Oz was judged the best family film of all time by American Film Institute and literally needs no introduction. It truly is a timeless classic and a glistening diamond in American Cinema. Its widely anticipated release in Ultra High Definition has arrived and the results are spectacular. Celebrating its 80th anniversary, it comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Comb Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring newly restored video quality that befits its status, complimentary lossless sound and, legacy supplements. The Wizard of Oz on Ultra HD Blu-ray is simply a must have for the collections of film enthusiasts.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems


Ralph C. Potts