Saturday, May 3, 2008

Giant


Giant; Drama, USA, 1956; D: George Stevens, S: Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Mercedes McCambridge

At first, the rich ranching Texas tycoon Bick Benedict just wanted to buy a horse in Maryland, but the daughter of the owner, Leslie, fascinates him so much that the two get married. Arriving at Texas, Leslie has a hard time adjusting to the desert heat and hard labour, while she doesn't even see Bick that often, since he is busy working around the ranch. She only finds a friend in the young and quiet worker Jett Rink. But when Bick's sister Luz dies while riding a horse, she leaves her part of the land to Jett. He finds oil there, becomes rich and starts hating Bick. Bick and Leslie get three kids: Luz Jr. starts dating Jett, Judy goes to study while Jordan gets married to a Mexican girl.

It's truly surprising that with only 24 years the tragically deceased James Dean got major roles in three excellent and famous films, even before he became a star. His last film was the 3 hour epic "Giant" that was nominated for 10 Oscars (winning one for best director) and 2 Golden Globes (best motion picture - drama, director, yet failed to win them). "Giant" is directed conventionally and ordinary, but also ambitiously and very clearly (the impressive scene in which Leslie wakes up in train and realizes that her new home in Texas is in the middle of the desert), with an interesting structure in which every event causes a new chain reaction (Luz dies and leaves her land to Jett, then he finds oil there and becomes rich, then he starts hating the Bendicts etc.), whereas it also present a very interesting slice into the young oil industry in Texas at the beginning of the 20th century. Still, the movie is too long, whereas the conflict between Jett and the Benedicts and the critique of omnipotency of the rich class could have been a lot more elaborate, what is slightly corrected by the symbolic ending that reconciles the racist views of some characters.

Grade:+++

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