The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming 1939), produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Documentary heritage submitted by United States of America and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2007.

© George Eastman House, Motion Picture Department
The Land of Oz Theme Park Beech Mountain, North Carolina, 1970-1980

In 1939, as the world fell into the chaos of war, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released a film that espoused kindness, charity, friendship, courage, fortitude, love and generosity. It was dedicated to the “young, and the young in heart” and today it remains one of the most beloved works of cinema, embraced by audiences of all ages throughout the world. It is one of the most widely seen and influential films in all of cinema history. The Wizard of Oz (1939) has become a true cinema classic, one that resonates with hope and love every time Dorothy Gale (the inimitable Judy Garland in her signature screen performance) wistfully sings “Over the Rainbow” as she yearns for a place where “troubles melt like lemon drops” and the sky is always blue.

George Eastman House takes pride in nominating The Wizard of Oz for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register because as custodian of the original Technicolor 3-strip nitrate negatives and the black and white sequences preservation negatives and soundtrack, the Museum has conserved these precious artefacts, thus ensuring the survival of this film for future generations. Working in partnership with the current legal owner, Warner Bros., the Museum has made it possible for this beloved film classic to continue to enchant and delight audiences. The original YCM negatives have been conserved at the Museum since 1975, and Warner Bros. recently completed our holdings of the film by assigning the best surviving preservation elements of the opening and closing black and white sequences and the soundtrack to our care. All current prints and video and digital access copies are derived from these materials.

The Wizard of Oz was to have been the official United States entry at the 1940 Cannes Film Festival, but the event was cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II. Over the years, The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most well known films ever produced and is the quintessential film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland’s Dorothy, Frank Morgan’s Professor Marvel/Wizard, Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West, Billie Burke’s Glinda, the Good Witch, Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow, Jack Haley’s Tin Man and Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion have become an integral part of global culture. It is fitting that this singular achievement in filmmaking should be added to the Register.

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