Oscar’s First Best Picture Winner, ‘Wings’, is Heading to Blu-ray and DVD for the First Time

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Wings on DVD and Blu-rayWings on Turner Classic Movies’ “31 Days of Oscar”, a gem of a month for anyone looking to catch films that are hard to find or are unable to find entirely. At the same time I also caught Cavalcade, a film that actually is on DVD, but only as a part of Fox’s 75th Anniversary Collection, which will run you $389.99 based on [amazon asin=”B0041T4LZQ” text=”current pricing”]. No thanks.

Wings, however, is about to become more readily available.

Just as Paramount did when they released African Queen on March 23, 2010, which, at the time, was probably the highest profile studio feature not available on DVD and Blu-ray, the studio will now release Wings for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray on January 24, 2012 with a brand new restoration, which was detailed in today’s press release:

Because the original negative was lost decades ago, contemporary audiences have only seen Wings in a compromised form. The restoration process utilized a duplicate negative housed in the Paramount archive, but despite this being the best element available, the negative was beset by damage, including entire reels that were strafed with scratches and printed-in nitrate deterioration that was literally eating into the edges of the frames. Using state-of-the-art digital tools normally used to create special effects, the film was meticulously restored frame-by-frame. Original tints and effects, such as colors that were embossed onto the film strip to give flames and explosions a fiery look, were also digitally recreated based on a detailed continuity script that still existed and tinting/toning guides from the period.

For this release, the film’s original paper score was procured from the Library of Congress and recorded with a full orchestra. Like many silent film scores, the music was a combination of original composition, popular songs of the period and themes from classical music. Musicians with expertise in silent film music were chosen to recreate a truly orchestral experience.

In addition, Academy Award-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and the outstanding team of sound engineers at Skywalker Sound added World War I sound effects as authentically as possible using library sounds from earlier eras to give viewers a true-to-the-period experience.

Included on both the DVD and Blu-ray release will be the new documentary “Wings: Grandeur in the Sky,” which gives perspective on the cinematic achievements of director William Wellman and his team of filmmakers and exclusive to the Blu-ray release will be “Dogfight”, which explores the history of early aeronautics; and “Restoring the Power and Beauty of Wings“, which details the restoration process.

Wings stars Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen and to put it simply, the World War I-set film centers on a pair of air jockeys that fall in love with the same girl. As I mentioned when I wrote about it back in February, it does feature some spectacular aerial combat and battlefield scenes and just might surprise today’s audiences with some of its intensity.

With the upcoming release of The Artist and Martin Scorsese’s ode to silent films, Hugo, on the horizon it would seem the silent film feature is making something of a comeback… at least for now.

Both editions are available for preorder right now. You can order the Blu-ray [amazon asin=”B0067MLCEI” text=”here”] and the DVD [amazon asin=”B0067MLCD4″ text=”here”].