This week marks the re-release of The Wizard of Oz in 318 theaters nationwide to promote a Blu-ray re-release next month. The new version, a painstaking 3-D IMAX restoration of the 1939 classic (which was originally released one week before World War II broke out in Europe and was not a huge success at the time), is a visual marvel and a great way to catch up with the film if you haven’t seen it in a few years. Here are a few things that are wonderful about Wizard (and one that’s pretty lame).
1. It’s fast-moving without being jumpy.
Oz gallops right along from adventure to adventure — the Kansas scenes, the introduction of the witches and the Munchkins, the friendship with Scarecrow and the others, the Emerald City and the Wicked Witch’s castle. There’s barely a chance to catch your breath before the next episode of peril (or the next sparkling musical interlude). Yet the movie is composed of relatively long takes. There are only 650 edits in the entire movie — less than one-third as many as you would expect to see in a contemporary equivalent. It’s a film that consistently rewards the uninitiated with surprises (and the repeat viewer with dazzling set pieces that rank among the most justly famed images in the history of film) without any wasted moments.