Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wizard of Oz returns to cinemas

Judy Garland, Jack Haley and Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland (l) was 16 years old when she made the film
A digitally restored version of 1939 Hollywood classic The Wizard of Oz is to open in UK cinemas next month.

Working from the original three-strip Technicolor negatives, experts at the Warner Bros studio have removed dirt, dust, debris and scratches.

The result, according to the British Film Institute, boasts "amazing image clarity and breathtaking colour".

Based on L Frank Baum's 1900 novel, the film stars Judy Garland as a farm girl transported to a magical kingdom.

Winner of three Academy Awards, it opens in 40 cinemas across the country on 15 December.

Lavish costumes

The three-strip Technicolor process - which combined three strips of coloured film - yielded excellent colour quality but was expensive and difficult to handle.

That, combined with the lavish sets and costumes, swelled the budget to a then enormous $2.7m.

Judy Garland was 16 years old when she won the part of Dorothy - a role she won after MGM decided Shirley Temple's talents were not extensive enough to do it justice.

Wicked, a musical based on the witches in The Wizard of Oz, is currently running in London's West End.


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