The audio on Warner’s new Blu-ray, which has finally been released months after it appeared elsewhere, is brilliantly rendered on this new disc. Andre Previn’s work, which can be heard in all its crystalline clarity on the stereo tracks has stood the test of time, and I’m not at all certain that things have gotten any better half a century later. His work is extraordinary.
Gigi was the Best Picture of 1958, and while I would so like to be able to report that the film has stood the test of time it has not.
And by the film, I’m not speaking of the production, as directed by Vincente Minnelli, nor the acting by Ms. Caron, or Mr. Chevalier or Mr. Jourdan — but rather…
the film itself.
Photographed on Eastman 5248, a stock known for its less than stellar aging characteristics, has become the nemesis of this great film. With a myriad of digital tools at its disposal, WB has not been able to bring Gigi back to life, and they have tried.
Here is something important to understand. Blu-ray has been proven to be a superior carrier of high definition information, which has created high expectations by the consumer. It is those expectations that unfortunately have not (and apparently cannot) be met by this release. The end result of the Gigi Blu-ray is an awkward, occasionally poorly colored hodge-podge of faded originals, dupes and clear attempts to pull something — anything — out of the extant elements. Reds in some cases have a tendency to posterize; blacks are uneven; blues go far too blue and flesh tones are not only extremely inconsistent, but sometimes downright unpleasant, taking on a colorized appearance.
Resolution is also a problem, possibly brought on by dupes.
Gigi, which was a glorious entertainment half a century ago, is sonically brilliant, and visually a bit of a mess. This is painful, as Gigi is still as charming as it was originally. And if one squints to avoid the image, one can still imagine what led Academy voters to make it the Best Picture of 1958.
A Great film. The failures of the disc are not failures of the people behind it, but rather a film stock and technology. Hopefully the studio will re-visit at the appropriate time. For the moment, it is what it is,
and at least we have it on Blu, albeit in an imperfect form.
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