There’s a terrific documentary about George Stevens
that was put out on laserdisc years ago. It offered reflections from many
actors and actresses associated with the director, and many gave vivid
descriptions of the man, demonstrating his concern for the human condition, both
in film, and in life.
Stevens made many a great film, but “GIANT” may very well stand out as his finest work, and the film stands as a testament against racism, as well as a tribute to American ideals as well, if not better than any other film of the 20th century. And, while James Dean has become an icon, after only three films, “GIANT” offers the greatest example of the young man’s versatility as he is seen transforming in age from a carefree, reckless youth to an old, rich man. Those who question Rock Hudson’s acting ability need look no further than here, to witness his genuine charisma and talent. And, of course there’s Elizabeth Taylor, looking as beautiful as ever. We even get to see a very young Dennis Hopper give a standout performance.
While this reviewer still questions why an epic as big
as “GIANT” wasn’t filmed in 2.35:1 or a larger ratio, it feels like an
epic as it is. It’s also almost three hours, but never gets sluggish.
WARNER BROS. has preserved the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, but for some reason, it’s not enhanced for 16:9 screens. Colors are solid and contrast is excellent, offering great detail in darker scenes. Fleshtones appear natural throughout. There are no artifacts, but it’s a bit disappointing that the film is spread out over two sides of a disc, rather than all inclusive on one.
WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby 2.0 stereo mix as well. Sure, we wish it had been remixed for Dolby Digital 5.1, but the fidelity is improved upon over the laserdisc version, and previously released Canadian dvd. There’s not a whole lot to say about the mix, other than the incredible score stands out, and is well complimented. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
WARNER BROS. has provided an audio commentary with George Stevens, Jr., critic Stephen Farber, and screenwriter Ivan Moffat. Stevens’ commentary is entertaining, providing the background information regarding the film’s production that fans will want to know about. Even as good as “GIANT” is, Farbers’ comments feel a bit over-indulgent at times. It’s Moffat’s insight into the script, however, which makes this a commentary worth listening to, albeit, not all at one time.
A documentary, “GEORGE STEVENS:FILMMAKERS WHO KNEW HIM” is offered as well, featuring plenty of interviews with great directors.
The 2nd disc of this 2 disc set offers two documentaries. “MEMORIES OF GIANT” and “RETURN TO GIANT.” The first documentary offers a self-promotional look at the film via cast and crew interviews. The 2nd documentary explores the film’s location shoots and the overall atmosphere that the TEXAS background provided.
A half-hour tv airing of the New York premiere offers a lot of nostalgia, as well as some unintended laughs! There’s still lots, and lots more, including stills, a newsreel and more!
This is a must for every dvd collection!