Film review: The Wizard of Oz (1939) – 3D IMAX Anniversary Edition

The Wizard of Oz, 1939 (2014 re-release in IMAX 3D).

Directed by Victor Fleming.
Starring Judy Garland, Terry “Toto” the dog, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, with Charlie Grapewin and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins.

Wizard of Oz


Young Dorothy (Judy Garland) gets whisked off on a tornado, from the bland and bleak Kansas farmland she calls home, to a magical land of whimsy and colour, called Oz. Despite finally fulfilling her wish of going “somewhere over the rainbow”, and being hailed as a national hero for trampling the Wicked Witch of the East upon her landing, all Dorothy wants is to go home. Heeding the advice of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), Dorothy heads off to Emerald City, following the Yellow Brick Road, in order to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan), who is the only one who can send her back home to Kansas. In her journey Dorothy comes across a talking Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), who wishes he had a brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley), who wishes he had a heart, and a cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), who wishes he had courage. The four of them strike up a friendship and go to the Wizard together, intent on getting their hearts’ wishes granted. Yet a surprise awaits them when they arrive at Emerald City, and Dorothy’s arch-enemy, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) is hunting them relentlessly.


The spectacular 1939 production has lost none of its splendour, marking its 75th anniversary with a re-release in stunning IMAX 3D. Everything from Dorothy’s farm in Kansas to the forests and poppy fields of Oz, and of course Munchkinland and Emerald City, is vastly impressive and wondrous, and the 3D conversion is seamless, visually striking, and totally immersive throughout the film.

For old school fans of the film, seeing it in the biggest and best screens in the UK will be a fantastic experience. The whirlwind of adventure takes Dorothy to fascinating places: Munchkinland, with its  colourful inhabitants who sing her praises as she stumbles around the cobbled square; farmlands, orchards, and dark and perilous forests, where she meets her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion; Emerald City, the bright and wondrous home of the mysterious Wizard of Oz; and the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, where danger and death await.

Though the author of the story, L. Frank Baum, intended for the fairy tale to only serve as entertainment, and to have no moral lesson to teach its young audience, the 1939 film introduced symbolism that has become inextricably linked with the story, by casting Dorothy’s family and neighbours as the iconic friends and enemies she makes in Oz. Her parting line, “there’s no place like home”, echoes with significance as she clicks her shiny red slippers together and finds herself back in dull, monochrome Kansas, away from the magical Technicolor splendour of Oz, back among her family and loved ones.

Out in IMAX theatres around the UK from September 12th, this celebratory Wizard of Oz IMAX 3D release is a show not to be missed. It’s a true classic: a timeless story of childlike innocence and wonder, whimsy and magic, friendship and bravery. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the spectacle, it’s definitely going to captivate your imagination and have you humming the familiar tunes in no time at all.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★

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