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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Giant [Blu-ray]

 

(George Stevens, 1956)

 

In Standard Blu-ray Case:

  

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: A George Stevens Production

Video: Warner Bros.

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:21:07.513

Disc Size: 46,243,175,680 bytes

Feature Size: 42,752,071,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.94 Mbps

Chapters: 56

Case: 48-page Book-style Blu-ray case

Release date: November 5th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2071 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2071 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by George Stevens Jr., Critic Stephen Farber, screenwriter Ivan Moffatt

George Stevens: By Filmmakers Who Knew Him (45:40)

Introduction by George Stevens Jr. (2:55)

Disc 2 (DVD)

George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him
Memories of Giant (51:39)
Return to Giant (55:11)
New York Premiere Telecast (28:53)
Hollywood Premiere Featurette (4:21) & Giant Stars are off to Texas (:38)
Stills (7:12) and Documents Galleries

Disc 3 (DVD)
• George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey (1:51:30)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: George Stevens' sprawling adaptation of Edna Ferber's best-selling novel successfully walks a fine line between potboiler and serious drama for its 210-minute running time, making it one of the few epics of its era that continues to hold up as engrossing entertainment across the decades. Giant opens circa 1922 in Maryland, where Texas rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Rock Hudson) has arrived to buy a stallion called War Winds from its owner, Dr. Horace Lynnton (Paul Fix). But much as Bick loves and knows horses, he finds himself even more transfixed by the doctor's daughter, Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor), and after some awkward moments, she has to admit that she's equally drawn to the shy, laconic Texan. They get married and Leslie spends her honeymoon traveling with Jordan to his ranch, Reata, which covers nearly a million acres of Texas. Once there, however, she finds that she has to push her way into her rightful role as mistress of the house, past Bick's sister, Luz (Mercedes McCambridge), who can't accept her brother's marriage or the changes it means in the home they share. Also working around Reata is the laconic ranch hand Jett Rink (James Dean) -- from a family as rooted in Texas as the Benedicts but not nearly as lucky (or "foxy"), Jett is dirt-poor and barely educated at all, and he fairly oozes resentment at Bick for his arrogance, although Luz likes him and for that reason alone Bick is obliged to keep him on.

 

 

The Film:

The film version of Giant (1956), Edna Ferber's epic, Texas-based tale about the Benedict family and their numerous internal conflicts over a twenty five year period, is famous for many things; It was Rock Hudson's first important dramatic role (He received a Best Actor Oscar nomination), it marked a significant turning point in the film careers of two young actors, Dennis Hopper and Caroll Baker, and the movie earned ten Academy Award nominations and won the Academy Award for director George Stevens. However, Giant is best remembered as James Dean's final film. Like Hudson, it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor but he never learned of the honor. Two weeks after his last scene for Giant was filmed, Dean was killed in an automobile accident while speeding in his Porsche 550 Spyder toward a road race in Salinas, California.

It was said that Edna Ferber's book was inspired by Texas oilman Glenn McCarthy who was a millionaire by age 26. Ferber had received numerous Hollywood offers to film her tenth novel but rejected them all in favor of George Stevens' proposal: he promised to remain completely faithful to her book. For locations, Stevens chose Marfa, Texas (The Benedict mansion was built at the Warner Bros. lot and shipped on five railroad flat cars to the set) and Virginia (the scenes on the Lynnton estate). The only other exterior scenes were filmed at the Statler Hotel in Los Angeles and the Lockheed Airport in Burbank.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

"Giant" (1956) offers extensive pleasures - it had better, at 201 minutes - not the least of which is watching James Dean age from a misunderstood, penniless youth into a mean, rich, middle-aged alcoholic. Add Rock Hudson as a landowner and Elizabeth Taylor as the woman both men love, set it all in Texas, and you have some kind of amazing spectacle.

Director George Stevens has been knocked for stodginess; Andrew Sarris wrote that his technique "once looked almost like an official style for national epics." But there was clearly another side to Stevens, one that allowed him to depict an ecstatic Dean sopping with oil from a gusher he discovers on his land.

Dean was killed shortly before filming ended (this was his third picture) and "Giant" shows why he was quickly canonized as an American icon. For his fans, it's a joy to watch him employ the Method to create a character that's both vulnerable and hard-edged.

Excerpt from the SF Gate located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Giant arrives on Blu-ray from Warner and fans of the film were in great anticipation from the lowly letterboxed, flipper, DVDs of the past. Unfortunately, I wasn't even born to have seen this premiere theatrically over 57-years ago.  The film is 3-hour 20-minute film is, naturally, transferred to a dual-layered disc. Colors seem brighter and truer than SD could relate although it can tend to look blocky at times. As I felt about the old SD - the beginning of the film can look soft-ish but visuals do tend to improve as the film passes the first 30-minutes. It would be easy to blame DNR as it can, initially, have a very waxy, flat look - but I don't think this is the fault of the transfer. Skin tones warm notably in comparison to the DVD and we may lose a slight amount of information from the bottom of the 1.66:1 frame. I'd prefer to believe this appearance is close to the original and the increase over letterboxed DVD resolution is impressive even though details don't crisp up as demonstratively as most would have hoped. There is grain - a bit blocky at times but it is there. The DVD had a green/yellow leaning - which appears to be gone. On my 60" plasma it looked pleasing with the Texas country impressive - as always. There is a lack of depth but I could appreciate the film's thickness. I doubt we will ever see Giant looking glossy and sharp-as-a-tack. This is probably it - whether accurate to production technicals or the elements have been compromised to some degree. I still thoroughly enjoyed the 1080P presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Original non-anamorphic Warner DVD TOP - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Original non-anamorphic Warner DVD TOP - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Original non-anamorphic Warner DVD TOP - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Warner give us a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2071 kbps along with a host of foreign-language DUBs and subtitle options. The score by Dimitri Tiomkin (Angel Face, Strangers on a  Train, The Men, Dial M For Murder, The Thing From Another World etc. etc.) is proud with nobility hailing Texas at every turn. There are others - The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You, Oh Susanna, The Yellow Rose of Texas and much more supporting the grandoise expressions. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Mostly extras are from the past SE with the commentary by George Stevens Jr., Critic Stephen Farber, screenwriter Ivan Moffatt. We get a 3-minute intro by George Stevens Jr., plus a DVD (one of two) with the 50 minute pieces Memories of Giant and Return to Giant. Included is the 45-minute George Stevens: By Filmmakers Who Knew Him which, is less necessary as it has excerpted interviews from the almost 2-hour George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey - which is included as a new supplement on a 3rd DVD disc. The package is a book-style DVD case with 48-pages of photos, essays, adverts and more.

 

 

DVD 1

 

 

DVD 2

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I loved revisiting this film in 1080P even if it does not have the crispness that I might have hoped. It is from an age gone-by in Hollywood. Imperfect but captivating with larger-than-life scenes and dialogue exported by a master storyteller. Let's talk about the iconic stars - indelible performances all around.  The Warner Blu-ray is an integral part of the James Dean package - his last film that is worthy of multiple viewings.  

Gary Tooze

October 20th, 2013

In Standard Blu-ray Case:

  

  

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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