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DVD Review: GIGI (BLU-RAY)



Studio: Warner Home Video
Year: 1958
Cast: Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor, Jacques Bergerac, Isabel Jeans
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:55m:28s
Genre(s): musical

ìProfession: Lover and collector of beautiful things.î - HonorÈ Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier)

GIGI (BLU-RAY)

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After going my whole life without seeing this Best Picture Oscar winner, it took Warner's Blu-ray release for me to finally give it a chance.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: A

Until now, my only knowledge of Gigi stemmed from my Stepfather having told me through the years how great it was. Now, thanks to Warnerís new Blu-ray disc of the film, Iím intimately acquainted with this classic, 1958 Technicolor musical. Based on the novella of the same name by French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, director Vincente Minnelli, the man responsible for the great films, An American in Paris, Brigadoon, Kismet, Lust for Life, and a daughter named Liza, adapted Gigi as an all-out musical that remained true to the source story. His film went on to win nine Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and the mother lode, Best Picture. Now, Warner is finally making this cinema classic available on Blu-ray in a fine, single-disc edition.

Gigi brings us into the rose-colored world of Gilberte (Leslie Caron), or ìGigiî for short. She is in training to become a Parisian escort thanks to the teachings of her Grandmother, Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) and Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans). Gigi is oblivious as to everything that goes along with being an ìescort,î but, nonetheless, she soon finds herself falling for a rich man named Gaston (Louis Jourdan). Heís just getting over a bitter end to an affair with Liane díExelmans (Eva Gabor), which has made him even more of a public gossip subject than before. Gaston is soon harboring similar feelings for Gigi, and, amid the resulting confusion, she is forced to grow up much faster than she ever anticipated.

While this song might have been a bit less creepy back in 1958, the first musical number is Chevalier singing ìThank Heaven for Little Girls.î Such a song would never be allowed in a modern musical, especially one adapted into a movie, but, given what transpires in the rest of the film, it works splendidly as a way to get this classic started. From there, weíre treated to hilarious, light-hearted banter between Gigi and Gaston for much of the film, with unforgettable musical numbers strewn in-between. There are tunes that will stick with you for days, even years after experiencing them for the first time, and youíre sure to be humming at least a few of them when you wake up the next morning.

Ah, Louis Jourdan, an actor who haunted me as a youngster growing up and watching Swamp Thing on pay-cable over and over again. Until finally seeing Gigi recently, I had no idea that Jourdan was more than a schlocky B- movie actor that can play a mean villain who can turn into a sword-wielding mutant monster with relative ease. Ok, so thatís not entirely true, as I am very aware that Mr. Jourdan was an accomplished actor for more than 50 years. In Gigi, he shows nothing less than pure professionalism, embodying Gaston in as realistic a manner as possible, despite the fact that heís asked to break into song multiple times.

The crux of the film, and the key to its effect on us is Caronís timeless performance. While I (and assumedly many, many others through the years) found her to be a chipper, cheery breath of fresh air throughout, I can see how some could be instantly turned off by her seemingly undefeatable spirit that she exhibits at the start. Still, if she captured your attention in a positive manner from the get-go, youíll see that Caronís Gigi is one of the most engaging, loveable characters in cinematic history. Warnerís Blu-ray disc features a stellar widescreen video presentation as well as a lossless Dolby TrueHD audio mix, which allows the musical numbers to burst across the sound field like never before. The disc also features some great extras, including an audio commentary track and a new documentary about the filmís production. Kudos to Warner for pulling out all of the stops for one of their most respected catalog titles.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - January 12, 2010, 7:09 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: best picture, musical




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