BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Apr 17th, 2000 •

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Director Anthony Harvey is the commentary track focus, which makes perfect sense. The surprise is the ‘host’ conducting the chat: ace film restorationist Robert A. Harris. And herein lies yet another approach to the commentary track, and a vital one. Not that there isn’t plenty to say about Giants, but Harris’s presence suggests another agenda, perhaps an archaeological dig. And before long it begins. After all, Harvey also directed A Lion In Winter, and he also edited Lolita and Dr. Strangelove for Stanley Kubrick. So what we get is the unfolding of the flower in time lapse, an artist’s whole career being revealed as this single work unspools. Harvey is not at ease with the secondary audio format, but Harris is, and makes it work fairly well. He introduces himself just as a match ignites and illuminates a dark screen – a splendidly cinematic choice – sort of a metaphor of what his life’s work has been all about. Throughout the two hours he drops little gems of info unrelated either to the film or to Harvey’s career (eg. Radio City Music Hall’s auditorium is so huge that depending on how far back you sit, the film actually appears out of sync because the sound takes longer to reach your ears than the image does to reach your eyes.) A lot of time is spent identifying New York actors, some of whom had notable stage careers but left brief film legacies.

And it’s a nicely mastered film, and in the final analysis whether or not it is a collectable has to depend on your enjoyment of the movie. I’m not a fan of They Might Be Giants, though I appreciate the bravura of its central idea, and the presence of actors of great stature dueling their way through it. (Harvey tells us that Paul Newman wanted to play the insane Holmes opposite Joanne Woodward’s psychiatrist Watson, but it’s not revealed why he didn’t.) I am a big fan of Harvey’s A Lion in Winter, which I hope gets the royal treatment soon.

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