The sepia-toned bookends of the real world look like old photographs. The colors of Oz are quite stunning: the greens of Emerald City, the red hues of the poppy fields and the ruby slippers, and the entire spectrum of the rainbow in Munchkinland are all particular standouts. There is an amazing amount of detail I never noticed before, and I felt as if I was seeing the film for the first time. I hadn’t noticed the burlap-sack textures of Scarecrow’s face, the rust on Tin Man’s body, or the actual brickwork of the Yellow Brick Road before. Kansas offered similar clarity.
The high definition does make the background paintings more evident, but typical Blu-ray flaws are near non-existent. Dorothy’s blue-and-white-checkered dress avoids aliasing. Any softness in shots comes from the source, and there was a limited depth of field so objects easily lose their delineation.
The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and the disc offers the option of the original mono and a music-and-effects track. It’s not an immersive experience, but the sound design from the 1930s wasn’t intended to be. Still, there’s a great use of surround as the tornado roars through the system and when the flying monkeys attack. The subwoofer gives a nice booming boost to the Wizard. The songs and dialogue are well balanced in the mix.
The UCE presents over 16 hours of special features. Although all are standard definition, there is over three hours of new material. The set also offers collectibles like a replica of the movie’s budget, a 52-page commemorative booklet, a reproduction of the 1939 Oz campaign book, and a watch.
Hosted by director Sydney Pollack, the audio commentary presents historian John Fricke complemented by archival interviews with cast members covering many aspects of the film's creation.
Angela Lansbury is involved with three features. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic" (51 minutes) is a 1990 documentary she hosted. She also narrates "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook" (11 minutes), an abbreviated version of the book accompanied by pictures, and "We Haven't Really Met Properly…" (21 minutes), a series of short bios about nine of the cast members. Surprisingly, Garland isn’t included.