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DVD SAVANT

RESTORING VERSUS REVISING
FAMOUS MOVIES



I'm a huge fan of THE WIZARD OF OZ and I want to know if there are any plans to try to put it back together again, the way the movie was originally shot. I know most of the original music and songs still exist, but the filmed footage seems to be lost forever. Using the original scripts and such, do you think current computer graphics could be used to replace all of the missing scenes? I had really hoped that both the 50th Anniversary version and then the Deluxe Laser set would have been somewhat restored, but they only brought back the original color and sepia tone. They did it to STAR WARS, can you do it to THE WIZARD, please? Thank You. -- Geoff Calvert, Shaker Heights, Ohio

The basic problem with your concept is that what George Lucas did with STAR WARS is a unique situation of a filmmaker who revises his own work, which is comparable to an author like Charles Dickens, who updated his books as it suited him.

But the original creators of OZ are all gone, and the wealth of data, film outs, music takes and sound recordings that remain, while being excellent research material for compilations like THE ULTIMATE OZ, do not help to make 'more complete' versions of the same movie. Fleming, et. al., made OZ, cut it into the shape in which it was finally released and that shape it has kept all of this time. Even if cut scenes or lines or music were found, their proper place is really in research archives. Putting them back in against the wishes of the creators of the film would in some ways be a mutilation of their work. Your question implies that some mythical, lengthier version of OZ once existed, or was repressed or something, and that is simply not the case.

Often films are finished and are then cut up, censored, or trimmed for all kinds of purposes and reasons. Putting back the missing parts in these instances is good film husbandry. But taking someone else's work and 'revising' it sounds like a job for the Ministry of Truth in 1984, and not the work of film restorers.

Savant helped find a lost ending to the film KISS ME DEADLY that went missing for 42 years. Research confirmed that it was the correct original ending, so putting it back on the film was a worthy act of cinema restoration. But if we decided to invent our own ending from the original book, or create what some individual now wanted to see, it would be a very wrong thing to do.

We all have ideas for alternate or different versions of films we like the most; perhaps in the future there will a genre of interactive films we can customize to our individual tastes. For now, I am happy that most studios are simply maintaining the originality of films like OZ, so that they won't be lost, or revised into some meaningless form. It has been reported that the theatrical reissue of OZ will not contain the extra business in the Scarecrow dance number that was discovered a number of years back, a decision Savant applauds.


Note: Mr. Calvert's inquiry nicely opens the door to a controversial subject. I think it's really too important for just my own opinion, and I welcome the thoughts of others, which I would be happy to report in a later entry.


Text©Copyright 1997 Glenn Erickson




DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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