Giant is a movie of huge scale and grandeur in which three generations of land-rich Texans love, swagger, connive and clash in a saga of family strife, racial bigotry and conflict between cattle barons and newly rich oil t... more »ycoons. It's also one of the most beloved works of director George Stevens, who won an Academy AwardO* for this film, one of 10 Oscar nominations** the film earned.« less
The story of Texas itself in this star-studded family saga
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 1956 film is aptly named; everything about it is huge. Three years in the making, and a full 202 minutes long, it's the sweeping story of a Texas family that starts in the 1920s. Elizabeth Taylor is the young bride from East who, after a whirlwind romance with Rock Hudson, comes to his huge 595-acre Texas ranch. Here, she finds his unwelcoming sister, prejudice against the Mexican servants, and a condescending attitude to her as a woman. James Dean is here too, a sullen ranch hand who yearns for her as well as wealth. She's feisty though, as well as beautiful, and the rational center of the film, which spans a quarter of a century, as she and Rock Hudson quarrel, make up and raise their three children. Texas changes too. James Dean, the ranch hand, is the first to discover oil, and all of their lives change dramatically then. After a while all the land in the area is gushing oil wells where cattle used to roam.During the course of film the makeup changes to show the cast aging, and Elizabeth Taylor, who was only 23 at the time, is shown as a mature woman. Dennis Hopper plays her grown son and Carol Baker her daughter. There's even a small part for Sal Mineo, who plays a grown up Mexican-American boy. By then the story is a family saga with the son choosing to be a doctor and the daughter finding the older James Dean an attractive man. This is the stuff of soap opera, which I usually don't like. But somehow, I was completely captivated by this film, which shows how everyone's character develops through the years.I was impressed with the quality of all of the actors, including Mercedes McCambridge, who has a small role as the sister. Sometimes I forget how talented Elizabeth Taylor is as an actress and even Rock Hudson, who is known for his rather stilted performances, was able to show some real feelings. James Dean, however, stood out above all the rest. The scenes he had with Elizabeth Taylor in which he showed his awkward vulnerability were ripe with nuance. It demanded mastery of his craft. His performance was indeed outstanding.However, it is almost half a century since the film was produced. I now know what Elizabeth Taylor really looks like as a mature woman. I have to smile at her gray-haired persona in the film, in which she remained slim and elegant. I can't help thinking about Rock Hudson's super masculine image as he dukes it out in a diner when his Mexican-American daughter-in-law is refused service. And I'm saddened to think of poor James Dean, who died tragically in a car accident at the age of 23 shortly after the film was made. His movie image of aging alcoholic millionaire is the only hint we have of what he might have looked like if he lived. The film even brought out thoughts of our own President Bush, himself a product of a Texas background and his own mixed Mexican-American family.The video consisted of two reels, and included about an hour's worth of features in addition to the more than three hours of the film itself. I stayed up late into the night to watch it all, including a short documentary about the small town in Texas in which part of the film was made, an interview with Dimitri Tiomkin who wrote the music for the film, an interview with the son of the director, George Stevens, and a long telecast of opening night both in Hollywood and New York with Jayne Meadows interviewing different stars as they entered the theater. Although the film itself was in color, all of these features were in black and white and brought back memories of live television shows, bouffant hairdos and mink stoles.I never saw "Giant" when it first came out. Videos and DVDs were years away in the future and, in those days, if you didn't catch a film in the theaters when it first was released, that was that. I'm so glad that this film was so easily available all these years later because I totally enjoyed the experience of spending a evening watching it. I was able to sit back, relax, and return to a time, place and cinematic point of view that doesn't exist anymore. The world is changed now. And so have I. But I absolutely loved this film. Highly recommended."
THIS DVD IS AN INFERIOR TRANSFER OF THIS CLASSIC
David B. Bennett | The Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, USA | 07/27/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The two stars that I rate this DVD is simply for the terrible transfer of this classic motion picture. This movie is a 10 star movie, but this particular DVD release is simply terrible. It seems as if they used third generation, or even fourth generation negatives to create this transfer, with absolutely no regard for consistancy. Some scenes are tolerable, at best, and seem that the transfer might have come from a decent third generation negative, and some scenes are totally dismal and seem as if they were done from a fourth generation negative that was found on the cutting room floor. There is absolutely no consistancy of the colors and brightness from one scene to another. But this is only the half of it. The transfer to this disc was done in a near full screen picture which cuts so much of the scenery off of the sides of every frame. It was a shame how this disc was done. This beautiful Hollywood epic deserves such better treatment. The roles played by Rock Hudson, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor are classic Hollywood roles, and the original shooting of this epic was done in a beautiful way, (which you can enjoy on laserdisc if you find a copy.) This movie tells the story of racial injustice and trys to teach a morality lesson of racial tolerence, all set in the by-gone days of depression era rural Texas. The story of us-and-them as played out by Mexicans and Anglos, and as seen through the eyes of Hollywood, dosen't get any better than this motion picture. For that reason alone, if you really must own this movie, buy this DVD. Otherwise you would be better off waiting for a better transfer or buying a good used copy on laserdisc or buying this movie on the 1985 VHS put out by Warner Brothers, (do not buy any VHS tape of this movie other than the 1985 version, the rest were terrible). I love this movie, and it hurts me to see this terrible transfer."
An Epic of the Flatlands
D. Mikels | Skunk Holler | 05/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those of us who live on the dusty, windswept plains of western Texas and Oklahoma readily appreciate a moving, gripping, well-made film that portrays the harsh, yet aesthetic abundance of this region. Equally enjoyable is the portrayal of what was once a titanic clash of two industries: cattle ranching and energy. Throw three young, very capable actors into the mix, and suddenly you've got an epic as entertaining today as it was forty-plus years ago.GIANT is the story of a west Texas ranching dynasty, the sprawling Reata Ranch, overseen for generations by the Benedict Family--currently run by Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson). Bick takes as his bride an "Easterner," petite and pretty Leslie Lynnton Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Leslie's transition from Maryland to the dusty flats of west Texas is the epitome of culture shock, yet she's up to the task, even to the point of challenging the ingrained bigotry toward the local Hispanic population. Bick's conservative stubbornness is at odds with Leslie's progressive beliefs; their numerous "disagreements" are some of GIANT'S most delightful, amusing moments. Yet the couple endures--endures through love. Jett Rink (James Dean) is one of Bick's quiet, surly, unreliable ranch hands. Jett becomes infatuated with Leslie from the first moment he sees her; his attraction to her motivates him to better himself. Inheriting a patch of land from Bick's older sister, Luz (played wonderfully by Mercedes McCambridge), Jett leaves Reata and does the unthinkable: he drills for oil. And when he strikes paydirt--when his first "gusher" comes in--the stage is set: the grand ranching tradition of the Benedict clan versus Jett's rapid accumulation of wealth and power via dotting the west Texas landscape with oilwells.James Dean simply dominates this film. The fact that he was able to so completely and effectively portray Jett Rink as a shrewd, hard-drinking businessman when Dean himself was only in his early twenties is astonishing. The range and complexity Dean brings to this role is spellbinding--and tragic: tragic in that we are given a glimpse of his phenomenal talent that was extinguished forever in an auto accident before GIANT was even released.I also enjoyed a very young Dennis Hopper as Jordan Benedict III, Bick's son and reluctant "heir apparent" to the family business. And Chill Wills is a bona fide scene stealer as crusty, cantankerous Uncle Bawley. He gets the best line in the movie; after Bick angrily rejects Jett's latest offer to drill for oil on his ranch and slams the telephone down, Uncle Bawley quietly says: "Most expensive phone call you ever made, Bick. Probably cost you around a billion dollars."GIANT is highly recommended.
Giant Is Not A Widescreen Film
Peter L. Winkler | North Hollywood, California USA | 05/18/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The product information here should be carefully read, as it reveals that this edition of Giant has been transferred in a 1:1.66 letterbox transfer. This is a travesty. Giant was filmed and released in the classic 1:1.33 "Academy" aspect ratio, which also happens to be the aspect ratio for NTSC analog television. George Stevens disliked widescreen processes, although he was forced to use them by studios on later films.
The time has come to put a stop to these unnecessary, phoney "restored" versions of classics. It's just a marketing ploy to squeeze more money out of old warhorses. Going back to the good old days of the laserdisc, I never much cared about the extras that were first introduced by Criterion and later imitated by the major studios. I've always responded to a high quality video transfer taken from the best film elements available. Getting the aspect ratio wrong and mutilating the images of Steven's classic film makes everything else irrelevant.
Thank goodness I still have my laserdiscs. Failing that, grab a copy on VHS."
The quintessential Texas epic loaded with stars!
D. Mikels | 01/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 202-minute slow-paced drama exemplifies the lives of three generations of cattlemen on a grandiose west Texas cattle ranch at the onset of the oil boom. Being a native Texan with relatives living close to the area near Marfa, Tx where GIANT was filmed, I LOVE this movie for the sheer drama and myth of our state. (and yes, there ARE some exaggerations) But it's also a well-crafted movie with exemplary performances by Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and a very young Dennis Hopper! Viewers seeking a fast-action adrenaline-pumping film probably will be bored by GIANT, but viewers who enjoy classical performances, historical sagas, (and old movies) will cherish this movie. It's sort of like a western "GWTW"! They don't make 'em like this anymore!"