For the ‘last great MGM musical’, Gigi is pretty full of life. As with An American In Paris, Minelli’s other addition to the BP canon, stunning imagery abounds in the form of colourful scenery and drop-dead gorgeous dresses. After seeing three films in cinemascope it has become strikingly clear how closely film has been tied to technological advances, though this should really have been obvious. Picture quality and dynamic has been hugely improved in such a quick space of time.
Lesley Caron struck me as an Audrey Hepburn doppleganger for most of this film and I can’t say I was surprised to discover that Hepburn had previously played the role in a Broadway version. It really makes you realise how packaged these stars were, though again this should be obvious in a film released by a major studio like MGM. And blimey, for Caron to be playing a teenager in this picture she must have bloody young during American In Paris.
Considering that both American In Paris and Gigi are musicals, their form is quite different. American focuses on dance and, of course, utilises a stunning Gershwin score. Gigi pulls the spectacle of dance and music back significantly, allowing us more access to the humanity of the piece. There’s still tonnes of songs, but they’re sung in more of a recitative, ‘sing-speak’ style, and the dancing is much more casual than in the 1951 film.
While Gigi looked pretty, I didn’t think the story was edgy enough for my taste. Researching a little into the history of Gigi and it’s famous French writer, Collette, I didn’t read predator or ‘courtesan’ into Gigi or her aunties. Perhaps I am just uneducated in French high society of the late 1800s?
All in all, Gigi is a tale about being true to yourself and to others. You can’t be something you don’t want, and nor should you be. A relevant theme coupled with stunning imagery completes the key ingredients needed for a worthwhile film.