Gigi: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) is a well known ladies man, with wealth and a lifestyle that most would be envious of. He is able to woo even the finest women with ease, thanks in no small part to his financial assets and social status. Gaston is a playboy indeed, but he has grown tired of the high society world and its rules. One of his friend is Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold), who has a beautiful young granddaughter named Gigi (Leslie Caron). Madame Alvarez has plans for Gigi to become a courtesan, but she longs for love and romance, and money and power. Soon Gaston is smitten with Gigi, offering her a life of luxury and wealth, an offer most women would accept in a heartbeat. But Gigi isn’t interested in such things, so can Gaston ever offer Gigi what she truly wants, or will he learn even he cannot always get what he wants?

I am by no means a fan of musicals on the whole, but when a movie takes home nine Oscars, including Best Picture, it should be given a look. Gigi celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2008, so how does it hold up after five decades? I didn’t fall in love with the movie, but Gigi was more enjoyable than I expected. The reasons Gigi works so well are numerous, but for me, the film’s success hinged on Leslie Caron’s performance. If she had played the role a little off, the entire flow of the film would be out of balance, but she nails the part. You can see why she is so pursued, which is crucial for the plot and drives the movie. The songs are fine, the direction is good, and the rest of the cast is also solid. But Caron is the prime element in Gigi, with a performance that stands out even after fifty years. Warner’s new Special Edition boasts a new transfer, new soundtrack, and new supplements, so if you want to see Gigi, this is your best option.

Video: How does it look?

Gigi is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new transfer and it shows, as the visuals shine and the image looks excellent, especially for elements five decades old. The print looks clean, which allows for a sharp and impressive overall visual presence. The colors look bright and natural, while contrast remains in perfect balance throughout. I haven’t seen the older DVD to be able to compare, but I doubt it looks this good.

Audio: How does it sound?

This Dolby Digital 5.1 option is solid, but there isn’t much life outside of the musical numbers. But those sequences do sound quite good, as the music is brought to life in bold, sweeping fashion. So there is some spice and with numerous such numbers, this soundtrack has ample kick. The other elements might not stand out, but sound effects are fine and dialogue is clear, which is all we could ask in this case. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Japanese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary is up first, as film historian Jeanine Basinger is joined by star Leslie Caron. The session is mostly insight from Basinger, who is well researched and has ample knowledge to impart. Caron isn’t vocal too often, but it was still nice to hear the comments she did share. While Basinger isn’t the best film historian I’ve heard on one of these tracks, she is passable and Caron’s presence adds a lot as well. You can also check out two bonus shorts, one live action titled The Million Dollar Nickel and the other animated titled The Vanishing Duck. Thank Heaven! is a half hour or so retrospective featurette, which has some good interviews and should please fans. An inclusion sure to raise interest in this release is the 1949 version of Gigi, which isn’t a musical and serves as a welcome companion piece. This release also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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