The James Dean Classic Giant Is Getting A 4K Restoration

"Giant," the 1956 classic starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, is getting a 4K restoration as a part of the expanding partnership between Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation (via The Hollywood Reporter). The partnership has been augmented with a multi-year financial commitment to fund education and the restoration of classic films in general.

The 4K restored version of "Giant" will be screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival, with Steven Spielberg and George Stevens Jr. in attendance at the screening. Based on Edna Ferber's eponymous, sprawling novel, "Giant" is an ambitious undertaking in film history, given how its narrative spans three decades of Texas history, from the 1920s to the 1950s. Bick (Rock Hudson) and Leslie (Taylor) attempt to raise a family amid an ever-shifting socio-economic status quo, while a ranch hand named Jett (Dean) becomes infatuated with Leslie. The film provides in-depth commentary on the emergence of big oil while tackling the racism prevalent during the time, alongside the issues within a patriarchal social order. The prints of the film deteriorated over time, which has now been remedied as a part of the TCM-The Film Foundation collaboration.

Restoring 'an epic American Story'

Prior to the screening of the film, TCM's Ben Mankiewicz will be hosting a discussion with Spielberg, Film Foundation executive director Margaret Bodde, and George Stevens Jr., whose father won an Oscar for directing "Giant." Stevens Jr. talked about how his father's film "stood the test of time:"

"I was with my father during the writing of the Giant screenplay, and he measured films by how they stood the test of time. Giant has more than met that test, and he would be grateful that Steven, Marty, The Film Foundation, and Warner Bros. have achieved this brilliant restoration so a new generation can see Giant on the big screen, streaming, and Blu-ray."

Spielberg also expressed his sentiments about the legacy of the film:

"Anything that presumes to call itself 'Giant' better have the goods to keep such a lofty promise. Both [novelist] Edna Ferber and George Stevens far exceeded the title to bring such an epic American story to the big screen, and I'm proud to have been a small part of the restoration team of this classic motion picture."

One of the many reasons why the restoration of "Giant" became possible is the fact that Spielberg handpicked the film as one of the group's projects to work on, collaborating closely with the Warner Bros. archives team to achieve this feat.

Apart from its screening at the festival, "Giant" will also be available for streaming on HBO Max sometime this year.