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Sprawling epic 4 Stars

George Stevens’ epic western Giant gets a 4K upgrade from Warner Bros in this nearly bare-bones release.

Giant (1956)
Released: 24 Nov 1956
Rated: G
Runtime: 201 min
Director: George Stevens
Genre: Drama, Western
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean
Writer(s): Edna Ferber, Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat
Plot: Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.
IMDB rating: 7.6
MetaScore: 84

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), French 1.0 DD (Mono), Other
Subtitles:
Rating: G
Run Time: 3 Hr. 21 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: UHD keepcase
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 06/21/2022
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 4/5

Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean star in director George Stevens’ sprawling western epic, Giant, tells the tale of Texas rancher Bick Benedict (Hudson) who in addition to traveling north to Maryland in the 1920s to purchase a stud horse comes home with a new wife, Leslie (Taylor), the daughter of the horseman. Leslie doesn’t realize just how barren ranch country in Texas can be, and does not get along all that well with Bick’s sister Luz (Mercedes McCambridge), who shares ownership of the ranch. When Luz dies after being thrown off the horse Bick purchased from Leslie’s father, she bequests a small piece of the ranch to ranch hand Jett Rink (Dean). Bick tries to buy the land from Jett for twice its value, but refuses to do so. After years of trying to scratch a living from the small plot of land left to him, Jett discovers oil on the property, which does not sit well with Bick, who tries to get Jett off his property. As the years pass by, Bick resists drilling for oil on his ranch, preferring to continue to raise cattle, until he realizes none of his children are interested in ranching. His stubbornness over wanting his children to be ranchers drives a rift between himself and Leslie, especially when their son Jordan (Dennis Hopper) announces he wants to become a doctor. The film follows the continuing conflict between the Benedicts and the Rinks, with Jett becoming exceedingly wealthy, but also deals with racial tensions of poor Mexican immigrants during the three decades that span the film.

Giant is a very long movie, running three hours and twenty-one minutes, and definitely takes its time telling the story originally published as a novel by Edna Ferber in 1952, and it is a long and complicated story to tell. George Stevens (Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank) won the movie’s lone Oscar for Best Director, and was nominated in nine other categories including two for Best Actor (Dean and Hudson), Best Adapted Screenplay (Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat), and Best Picture. Giant was also Warner Bros’ highest grossing film until the release of The Exorcist in 1973.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

This recently completed 4K restoration premiered in April at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Warner created new 4K scans of the film’s “original camera negatives and production RGB separation master positives for the best possible image, and color corrected in high dynamic range for the latest picture display technology.” This UHD Blu-ray release showcases the film in an HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and uses HDR10 high dynamic range. The OCN shots here really pop, with excellent fine detail and vivid colors, while the separation masters are quite obvious (and seem to comprise of at least half of the movie’s running time), appearing noticeably softer. This is probably the best that Giant will ever look.

Audio: 5/5

The default audio on the disc is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track, sourced from “a 1995 protection copy of the Original Magnetic Mono soundtrack.” This is a clean track, free of any hiss, pops, or other anomalies, and has excellent fidelity and surprisingly wide dynamic range. Bass response is excellent, even without a dedicated LFE channel, especially when Jett’s oil rig hits a gusher in chapter 29. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 3/5

Warner Bros. has released Giant in a single-disc UHD only release (no Blu-ray disc has been included) and one lone special feature ported over from previous home video releases.

Audio Commentary with George Stevens, Jr., Screenwriter Ivan Moffat and Film Critic Stephen Farber: The track is a wealth of information, although some sections are repeated as filler.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere, which added the following special features as of June 21, 2022: Introduction by George StevensReturn to GiantMemories of GiantNew York Premiere TelecastHollywood PremiereGIANT Stars Are Off to TexasBehind the CamerasGeorge Stevens: A Filmmaker’s JourneyGeorge Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him and four trailers.

Overall: 4/5

This new 4K release is likely the best Giant is ever going to look. None of the special features on the 2013 Digibook Blu-ray release have been included here (except for the commentary), so owners of that release looking to upgrade to this 4K release will want to hold on to that previous version.

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Published by

Todd Erwin

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View thread (77 replies)

noel aguirre

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Thanks for the review Todd. Besides the vividness and “pop”iness of the colors is the film grain intact? If memory serve this film has a lot of it on the prior blu-ray.
 

plektret

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The soundtrack is free of hiss? That's not how it should be. Tape hiss is not an anomaly and should be left untouched!
 

Robert Crawford

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I hope it's better than what's showing on HBO Max. That looks like a 16mm print a local station would air in the 1970s.
That HBO Max stream is derived from the old scan used for the prior Blu-ray. This morning, I watched in it's entirety, my iTunes digital that upgraded from HD to 4K/Dolby Vision. It looks much better than the Blu-ray. My 4K disc has shipped from Amazon so I'll be watching this fine movie again tomorrow in its entirety. I'm interested in seeing any differences between 4K disc and stream.
 

Ken Koc

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The OCN parts of the film are stunning in clarity but in comparison it does make the other portions of the film look fuzzy and at times almost out of focus.
 

Todd Erwin

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I just amended my review, as the Movies Anywhere code went live today. A slew of special features are now available on the Movies Anywhere app, exclusively at the moment.
 

Todd Erwin

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I hope it's better than what's showing on HBO Max. That looks like a 16mm print a local station would air in the 1970s.

That HBO Max stream is derived from the old scan used for the prior Blu-ray. This morning, I watched in it's entirety, my iTunes digital that upgraded from HD to 4K/Dolby Vision. It looks much better than the Blu-ray. My 4K disc has shipped from Amazon so I'll be watching this fine movie again tomorrow in its entirety. I'm interested in seeing any differences between 4K disc and stream.
HBO Max is one of the slowest to upgrade their library to 4K, unless it has some relevance to an upcoming theatrical release (they quickly upgraded the first three Matrix films just before Matrix Resurrections was released) or is a new theatrical release. Giant is one of many films on the service in need of being swapped out for its new 4K transfer. Other titles include all 12 Middle-Earth films (6 theatricals, 6 extendeds), all of the Harry Potter films, 300, Watchmen, The Goonies, Gremlins, etc. These are all movies OWNED by their parent company and have been released in 4K on both physical and digital media.
 

JohnnyLancer

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The second half of the film looks good on this 4k. The dissolves issue or "fix", I don't really notice on this 4k. I haven't put it on my projector yet but I like this 4k. It's not perfect but it's as good as it gets with this marvelous film.
 

ArnoldLayne

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My copy arrived this morning, and I had decided to leave it unopened for return until seeing caps-a-holic comparisons. After watching the first half of the old blu-ray this morning I see the caps are up. I guess I will open the UHD :)
 

Lord Dalek

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The version showing tonight on TCM looked pretty bad, kind of smeared and almost out of focus. And even with all that the “old age” makeup and hairstyles for Rock and Liz were unconvincing, to put it kindly. That has always been the aspect that is jarring to me in an otherwise very well made film.
 

warnerbro

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The shots that are not dupes (about 50 percent) look beautiful. George Junior says they used Eastman Color and were not able to get true greens on the grass. They had to do lab work because the grass came out brown and it still does in some shots. Why are there so many dupe dissolves in this film? You lose a lot of the performance because they are so muddy and blurry. When you download the digital version, all of the extras from recent releases are there including the best one, MEMORIES OF GIANT. I never get tired of watching that documentary.
 

Robert Crawford

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That HBO Max stream is derived from the old scan used for the prior Blu-ray. This morning, I watched in it's entirety, my iTunes digital that upgraded from HD to 4K/Dolby Vision. It looks much better than the Blu-ray. My 4K disc has shipped from Amazon so I'll be watching this fine movie again tomorrow in its entirety. I'm interested in seeing any differences between 4K disc and stream.
HBO Max has finally upgraded that older HD scan to the current 4K/Dolby Vision digital!
 

Ronald Epstein

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Watching this newly upgraded digital release in 4k as I type this response.

My very first James Dean movie watch. I owned the BD set for years but never opened it. I just didn't have a huge interest in watching the films but thought at some point I would look at them.

Will comment more on GIANT after I finish watching it. I can say, thus far, I am really enjoying it.
What bothers me is how inconsistent the 4k looks. When it's good, it's REALLY good.

However, there are a few shots that are blurry and out of focus. I take it this is something inherent in the original print?