Remember it Well

5 Sep 2013: Gigi (DVD, 1958, Vincente Minnelli)

This has the color, the romantic charm and the style of the other work of Minnelli I’ve seen – but, perhaps because this I watched on digital disc, unlike the others with the warmer textures and broader screens of projected film, things on the whole feel a tad flatter than those other films (Designing Woman, Brigadoon, Meet Me in St. Louis, Some Came Running). Independent of the technological format, however, the drama here never quite reaches for the agonies and the suffering that make most of those others so inspiriting in their triumphs or profound in their tragedies – apart from from a few short-lived and seemingly minor arguments, everything remains effervescent in the characters’ aristocratic paradise. The musical numbers stand out as clever and unconventional – particularly one that is almost exclusively internal monologue, the only such one I’ve seen in which the singer does not open his mouth – both in staging and in lyrical content (“I remember it well” is a refrain in one song in a familiar scene [in life, but not in film] of two people reminiscing with disagreement as to the particulars of each memory). Although this is a Hollywood production, and the lyrics and dialogue are almost entirely delivered in English, most of the principal actors are native French speakers, as they should be, though this authenticity is almost unheard of in American films from the classical period, as far as I’m aware. The wide ensemble shots in which they perform certainly demand a larger scope (a Cinemascope, perhaps) than this computer can manage, so this is a film whose judgment I’ll reaffirm should be left for after a theatrical viewing.

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