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Darthcanuck Calls THE WIZARD OF OZ IMAX 3Dization '...Nothing Short Of Astonishing' !!




Merrick here...

I’ve been hearing nothing but good thing regarding THE WIZRD OF OZ’s upscaling/conversion to IMAX 3D.  Even hard-to-please, slightly cynical critics and Geeks are saying the film works surprisingly well in the format and looks pretty spectacular.  I can’t wait to take my 6 year old to see it - who has never seen the film all the way though (yes, I tried), and never gotten a chance to see it on a big screen.  Certainly not like this.  I may even see it a few times - perhaps going back with my mom, her late reeling from the effects of a stroke she suffered this Summer.  OZ holds a special place in our relationship.  Something to revisit, perhaps, before it’s too late.  

AICN reader Darthcanuck sent in some thoughts on the newly restored and freshly presented masterpiece...which opens in IMAX 3D theaters today.  

Here’s Darthcanuck...





Hey. Long time reader. First time writer. Probably a little late on this as people will have the opportunity to experience the film tomorrow but I felt compelled to send a line about the 3D reissue of The Wizard of Oz having caught a screening at TIFF last week. 
There was a lot of cynicism about the appropriateness of TIFF screening the film this year with many deriding it as a marketing endeavour unworthy of inclusion in the fest (even if it was presented as a Special Event). And we can add to that another layer of cynicism about converting the film in general. With so many shoddy, underwhelming conversions hitting theatres these days, why sully what is arguably one of the greatest films of all time by imposing a tired gimmick in the interest of selling a few Blu-rays? Personally, I was excited that the festival was celebrating a classic by returning it to the big screen but I shared some of those reservations about imposing the third dimension.
Then I saw the film.
I grant that seeing a film through the eyes of your 3 year old might dampen your critical faculties but I feel possessed of relatively sound mind and body when I say that the result is nothing short of astonishing. I've had several conversations with people who bridled at the notion of attending the screening saying, "That's not the way it was intended to be seen." So answer me this folks - do you think it was meant to be seen on a television screen? Because that's the way people have been watching it for years. My misgivings about 3D aside - the prospect of seeing it on the big screen was irresistible and the obvious care and attention to detail that have gone into the restoration/conversion render any quibbles I might have had moot.
The beauty of the presentation is that it really draws attention to the craftsmanship of the original production. Colour and clarity reveal tiny details that I've never noticed before, particularly in terms of makeup. The amazing burlap texture on the Scarecrow's face, the yellow highlighting on the Cowardly Lion, and this may sound odd but - this was the first time I felt that Dorothy looked like a young girl as I was watching the film. Perhaps it's the baggage of latter days Garland grafted onto past viewings but here, her flawless freckled skin and genuinely moving performance reminded me just how young she actually was when they shot the film. Going in I was concerned that 3D would draw attention to the "flatness" of the sets and heighten the sense of artificiality but the conversion opens things up remarkably. You're never not aware that you're looking at sets and drops but there's a sense of depth to the environments that you don't get in 2D (obviously) on a tv screen. And yet, while it's all quite striking - it never tinkers with the source material or imposes any sort of Dr. Tongue "jump out" effects to "enhance" the original. Glinda's bubble is still somewhat one dimensional but damn if it doesn't seem to move from back to foreground as she first appears to the munchkins. And nothing is "fixed". Wig lines are visible, a black mark on Dorothy's arm is visible late in the film, you can see the Tin Man's undershirt at one point in the haunted forest. There's no George Lucas style revisions here. It's the movie as it was made, lovingly restored and vibrant as ever. What's particularly impressive is the colour. I, like many, wince at the muted tones that invariably emerge from 3D conversion but there is no sense of colour loss here whatsoever. The image is sharp with little to no "blur" and the sound, while still firmly rooted in the technological limitations of the time is remarkable present.
As I mentioned - I have a three year old and this is a movie that we have watched MANY times. To say I know it inside out would be an understatement. And yet I managed to have two "aha" moments - one laughable and one quite striking. 
SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't seen the film a) Why are you on this site? and b) proceed with caution.
1) Watch the Tinman near the end when the balloon with the Wizard "accidentally" takes off. I'm not sure how much of an accident that really was. 
2) I've never seen it like this before but when Dorothy tells the Scarecrow "I think I'll miss you most of all" - IT'S A SECRET!  All these years I've thought it was a callous thing to say at that moment but blown up to IMAX dimensions - it's clear she leans in just before she says it. My wife and I both gasped and turned to each other with the exact same thought in that moment. A small detail but how often does your perspective shift like that on a movie you've seen over and over again?
So there you go. Shameless enthusiasm - that's my response to the film and my daughter's delight. About 10 minutes into the screening she turned to me and said, "Daddy, it's like they're so close."
She was right.
If you use this, call me Darthcanuck!
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