I saw an IMAX 3D version of Victor Fleming‘s The Wizard of Oz at 10 am this morning at Leows’ Kips Bay. The screen was fairly small so I wouldn’t call it a genuine IMAX presentation, but the 3D was real enough. I have to be honest and say that while it felt interesting to watch this 1939 classic in 3D, the experience didn’t floor me. The conversion was very nicely done, I felt — tasteful, subtle, unintrusive. So subtle, in fact, that after a while I kind of forgot that I was watching 3D. The same thing happened when I watched the 3D-converted Titanic. The 3D process just starts to take a back seat to the content of the film. You get used to it and then you start to forget about it.
A few shots were interesting. The 3D enhanced the feeling of that long tunnel passage to the wizard’s main presentation room. And Margaret Hamilton‘s castle looked great in the moonlight. But the focus wasn’t all that miraculously needle-sharp so it didn’t look much, much better than the most recent Bluray version. And then there’s that 3D blur-out effect that happens if you tilt your head even slightly to the right or left. But it basically looked fine. If they had given control of the conversion project to me I would have ordered a little Universal Home Video-style DNR-ing and made the whole thing pop a bit more.
The remastered Wizard of Oz will open theatrically on 9.20 and play for a week before the Bluray 3D streets on 10.1.
I noticed two things that I hadn’t noticed before. When Bert Lahr‘s Cowardly Lion passes out in the poppy field, his hind legs are sticking up in the air. But when he faints inside the wizard’s palace his legs lie flat like a human’s. “Hey, what happened to his lion legs?,” I said to the person sitting next to me. I also noticed that during the Emerald City finale when Judy Garland‘s Dorothy tells Frank Morgan‘s Wizard not to leave in the balloon while she retrieves Toto, Jack Haley‘s Tinman deliberately loosens the rope that is holding the balloon to the railing of the wooden stand. Whassup with that, beehive? Wouldn’t it make sense to keep the rope tied until Dorothy comes back with her dog?
The stupidest projectionist in the western world was in the booth this morning. He/she forgot to turn the lights off when the film began, and when it ended he/she forgot to turn the lights so people could see their way out. I managed, but that poor projectionist is going to have to deal with his/her lack of brain cells for the rest of his/her life.