Gigi Blu-ray Review
'Gigi' cavorts on to Blu-ray with a fine 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer that's framed attractively at 2.40:1. The colour leaps off the screen at you in places, such as the interior of Gigi's Grandmother's house which isn't red, it's RED. Fully saturated red that makes you go 'Wow!' Skin tones look nice, although they can occasionally take on a contrasty appearance in some shots. Blacks are lovely and deep, so there's no grey mistiness to behold. The film is generally very sharp, although occasionally I noticed focus going out during a dissolve (or mix, in old movie terms) - a very odd effect. There is no perceptible ringing around faces or contours, so it looks as if the sharpening tool was left alone.
The movie has a significant amount of noticeable grain throughout. Initially I thought it was only on the main title sequence, which could have been explained by the use of colour mattes to produce the superimposed red titles - but it carried on throughout the movie. It was almost as if someone had become fed up of people complaining about the use of DNR techniques to reduce grain and decided to leave it untouched, to see what they would then say about it. Well, it's noticeable but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the movie. It may be something to do with Metrocolor, but I don't know enough about this process to comment further. Overall - a nice transfer.
The audio on 'Gigi' comes in two flavours, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Of the two, I found the former to be clearer and with more 'oomph' than the latter. I stuck with the TrueHD track for most of the movie as I felt it provided a very crisp, clear rendition of dialogue - mainly locked to the front centre channel. The main stereo pair jumped into life with the excellent musical numbers and while there was a noticeable increase in clarity on such occasions, it wasn't so much as to take the audience out of the movie. The surrounds aren't really given much to play with, due to the main focus of the soundstage being front centre. Instead we have nice effects. Particularly memorable are the horses hooves clip clopping in the streets of Paris and also the very nasal crunching of the bones of ortolons (little birds) in an eating scene.
The soundtrack has been well and truly cleaned up for this Blu-ray release, with no hint of hiss, pops or other audio undesireables. It's nice to see a bit of TLC being given to a movie that deserves the effort. Well done, Warner.
- Audio Commentary
Film historian Jeanine Basinger and (to a lesser extent) Leslie Caron provide a fairly interesting commentary. Ms Basinger tends to repeat herself and spends a lot of time telling us what's happening on the screen. We do, however, get some interesting production details such as the censorship issues the film had to contend with, and the background of main cast and crew members. Leslie Caron's input is very limited and her comments may have been pinched from the documentary below. I'd rather have heard more from her.
- "Thank Heaven!: The Making of 'Gigi'" (HD, 36 minutes)
Here we get a nice, chunky doco on the making of the movie that's a treasure trove of interviews, rare stills, and film clips. It takes us from Colette's original novella, through the 1949 French film it inspired, on to location shooting in Paris, the work of designer Cecil Beaton and to the movie's Broadway premiere. Leslie Caron shares some recollections and we also get to hear for ourselves exactly why she was dubbed for the singing part.
- 'Gigi' (1949) (SD, 83 minutes)
Here we have the full length original French non-musical version of the movie which parallels the 1958 version quite closely. It comes from the only remaining print so nicks, scratches, and missing frames leap out in comparison to the Blu-ray.
- "The Million Dollar Nickel" (SD, 9 minutes)
Coming from the country that gave us the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950's we have a short propaganda piece, involving MGM stars Pier Angeli, Ricardo Montalban, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Leslie Caron that promotes the power of the written word. It explains how letters extolling the virtues of American freedom sent to relatives living in Communist countries can help stem the Communist threat in Eastern Europe. Yup, this really happened folks.
- "The Vanishing Duck" (SD, 7 minutes)
This 1957 Cinemascope Tom and Jerry cartoon follows the adventures of a baby duck as he tries to beat Tom by using vanishing cream. Not as good as the T&J cartoons from the 1940's.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3 minutes)
Nice to see how the movie was promoted but also to see the difference between this unrestored 'Gigi' trailer and the movie itself.
The multi- award winning MGM musical 'Gigi' arrives on Blu-ray with a very good, if a little grainy 1080p VC-1 transfer, framed at 2.40:1.
The Metrocolor photography leaps off the screen in some scenes with vibrant reds, generally good skin tones and solid blacks. It's nice and sharp without the aid of artificial help.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track ensures we have clear dialogue and punchy musical numbers in this mainly front centre weighted mix.
The extras provide us with a decent 'Making of..' doco and there's also the full length 1949 French version of 'Gigi' taken from the only remaining print to fascinate film buffs.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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- Audio Commentary