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I purchased the filmed version of Giselle w/ Carla Fracci and Erik Bruhn recently and, while I found it quite marvelous as a whole, I found some of the directorial decisions odd to the point of eccentricity (and, in the case of the peasant pas de deux, well beyond it.)

If you've seen the DVD you'll know what I mean -- cutaways during dance sequences to close-ups of nondancing characters eating fruit or cheese, dancers filmed through (closed!) windows of cottages, dancers filmed in the background while two nondancing characters are chatting in the foreground, etc. These bizarre filmmaking decisions are especially noticeable in the peasant pas de deux. Ted Kivitt's first solo is marred by excessive cutaways and strange compositional choices. It's a shame, too, because what you can see of his dancing is quite wonderful. Kivitt should have sued the director for malpractice! :unsure:

If you're an ABT fan, I would heartily recommend this DVD as it really stands on its own as a film and it's chock full of great dancers from one of ABT's golden ages. Just be prepared for some very disorienting directorial choices!

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I purchased the filmed version of Giselle w/ Carla Fracci and Erik Bruhn recently and, while I found it quite marvelous as a whole, I found some of the directorial decisions odd to the point of eccentricity (and, in the case of the peasant pas de deux, well beyond it.)

These bizarre filmmaking decisions are especially noticeable in the peasant pas de deux. Ted Kivitt's first solo is marred by excessive cutaways and strange compositional choices. It's a shame, too, because what you can see of his dancing is quite wonderful. Kivitt should have sued the director for malpractice!  :unsure:

Just be prepared for some very disorienting directorial choices!

I saw this the first time shortly after it was released, maybe the Summer of 1969 as part of an opera/ballet film series in Avery Fisher Hall (at the time Philharmonic Hall.

The audience was outraged by all the excessive manipulation of the camera and the cutaways.

Booing started soon after the start of the film and continued for most of the evening. Although the Kirov Swan Lake film got a lot of booing too the night that was shown.

I have to say I no longer find the second act so distracting to watch, actually I sort of enjoy the manipulated camera work. But I just can't watch the first act.

Richard

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I've been warned! I just bought this video as a VHS tape on ebay a few days ago. At least now I won't be ranting at the TV screen as much while I'm watching it, especially when I see what they've done to my beloved peasant pas de deux. Misery loves company..... :unsure:

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Oh well, I must thank canbelto and aurora for pestering me on 'Giselle', because whatever may not be thought wonderful about filming matters, this is the first time I've ever been sold on 'Giselle'. To me, it is close to perfect, and light-years beyond anything I ever saw in person or other DVD's.

I got it out of NYPL because aurora said look at clips of Fracci's Giselle, but I avoid the terrible quality of YouTube except when unavoidable, and I think this is just gorgeous. It, of course, reminds one of some of the Zeffirelli opera movies like 'La Boheme' and 'Cav/Pag' with Domingo. The Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, conducted by John Lanchberry finally makes the score sound convincing as a simple rustic accompaniment to all those country girls and their swains. I'm not even through with anything but the much-maligned 1st act, and have fallen in love with 'Giselle' purely on that.

Well, this is the prettiest ballet partnering I may have ever seen, so that now Ms. Fracci becomes one of my 3 or 4 favourite ballerinas, and I already liked her a lot. Had she the best pirouettes on the planet at one point? And I can imagine that other people, upon seeing Erik Bruhn dance for the first time, may know the sensation. Well, he goes all the way to the top of the Most Handsome Thread for me, but I'll leave it be.

I much prefer this to Baryshnikov/Makarova and so here I finally get to see real Golden ABT. I saw Martine van Hamel with ABT in this, and, as usual, a big rambling barnlike feeling at the Met. None of the lethargic moments allowed here, they treat the Adam score and all the endless corps things as if the Holy Grail, and it sure did pay off.

But since I'm always complaining about bad ballet orchestra, this unfortunately (and some Kirov Orchestra too, and POB and RB) does vindicate me, because the plink-plonk sounds have to be PERFECT or they sound tacky. Here, it sounds so good, the music becomes an integral part of the whole ballet so that I can now understand canbelto talking about the 'emotional punch' of the ballet. But if they do not get this very simple melody focussed and concentrated in the performance, the performance doesn't work for me, because Adam is no Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev (even the pickup orchestras at the Met at their worst can't quite ruin some parts of those scores, but they sure can ruin this one.)

Interested to hear other remarks about this film as I continue watching it. Very surprised there are only a couple of comments for it. Ms. Fracci and Mr. Bruhn are just dreams.

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I haven't seen this video in a while... but I remember being struck by how... when the director wasn't absurdly over-doing special effects.... when the director wasn't trying too hard... how good the camera work and editing actually was... The bad is so bad you can't miss it, but the good is so good that you only notice how vibrant the dancing is. When it's bad, it's not bad in the standard "were they blind?" way... it's bad with truly innovative levels of mistake :smilie_mondieu: The peasant pas de deux is one of those jaw dropping moments! (come on, there must have been a story behind that decision!!) But honestly, where it's not bad, it's much much better than most dance videos.

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I'm a learner and so i buy what I can of the same ballets done by different people.

I first watched the Metsensva version and loved it - particularly Myrtha, and then the Australian ballet one with Kelvin Coe and Christine walsh which i found very moving although not a technical tour de force. The The Fracci Bruyn one? Well I love the dancing - what one sees of it. I was really rather horrified when they moved away from the glorious chugs on to some water!!!. For me the whole white ballet magic was completely lost although as I said what one could see was good.

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Llike carbro, I haven't seen this, but am now looking forward to it.

I saw this the first time shortly after it was released, maybe the Summer of 1969 as part of an opera/ballet film series in Avery Fisher Hall (at the time Philharmonic Hall.

The audience was outraged by all the excessive manipulation of the camera and the cutaways.

I'm still trying to bend my mind around the idea that a ballet film would actually be shown in a huge hall like Avery Fisher -- and that large audiences would be involved enough, and knowledgeable enough, to care about how it was done. Those were the days!
The peasant pas de deux is one of those jaw dropping moments!
Amy, tell us more, please!
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Llike carbro, I haven't seen this, but am now looking forward to it.

Clarification: I have seen it, but a long time ago. My memories of it include trying to watch dancing filmed through foliage. The needless obstruction became increasingly frustrating, and you couldn't help thinking that the director felt so proud of his creativity. :smilie_mondieu:

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This is a really good production. And I'm glad I was finally able to see Bruhn/Fracci. The camera work is a shame though; I was most upset over the camera moving to water during the Wilis' glorious dancing. Terribly distracting.

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Terribly distracting.

Exactly. While I'm sure the film director won awards (don't they always?), he has entirely missed the point; the recording isn't about him. With the performing arts, the film director's job isn't 'creating a work of art', it's making the best possible display of someone else's work of art.

So, distracting - which it most certainly was - is exactly the last thing it should have been.

Having said that, it is a fine performance, even with the all-too-often amputated feet :)

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Since most object to the directorial intrusion, I challenge anyone (in friendly spirit) to recommend another Giselle which has better principals and dancing and a better orchestra. I can see what all of you are talking about, but since I am no Giselle purist, I am just glad I was able to see a production that really excited me about the ballet, which I usually find interminable and boring. I also usually hate the costumes (as Makarova's on the DVD with Baryshnikov, and she's nowhere near as pretty as Carla Fracci--this may not be the most important thing, but for this part I should think perhaps it enhances it a bit more than usual) and both men's and women's were so much more charming and Breughelish than what one sees in the current ABT Swan Lake, you wonder what's happening in terms of costume fashion. I can't stand the costumes in the Mackenzie Swan Lake, think they're all unattractive, unsexy and garish. The dancers in this 'Giselle' all look very naturally sensual. Makarova's costume made her look like a giant little girl IMO, whereas Fracci is just perfect.

Only DVD I've liked as well was recently watching the 1989 Kirov 'Sleeping Beauty', and that's more impressive because it was a live performance and still flowed forward almost like a film, without getting all chopped up. Plus film looks a lot more magical than videotape, which a lot of these videos must be. Most of them don't look like 16mm or 35mm film.

Not trying to be tiresome, and respect people's dislike of the director's 'creativity', but it still is the first time I've ever enjoyed Giselle. But I'd be glad to hear if there's another good Giselle DVD. If not, I'll wait for POB or RB to come here. I'm not enough of a balletomane to believe I'll see anything I like at the current ABT.

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Not trying to be tiresome, and respect people's dislike of the director's 'creativity', but it still is the first time I've ever enjoyed Giselle.

That is wonderful though that this version drew you into the ballet, papeetepatrick. :) Giselle has always been one of my favorites.

But I'd be glad to hear if there's another good Giselle DVD.

Alesandra Ferri's Giselle at La Scala (1996) is the production that has always touched me. I own this one VHS, so I don't know how it looks on DVD. The Kirov version starring Galina Mezentseva is also quite good in my opinion.

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I challenge anyone (in friendly spirit) to recommend another Giselle which has better principals and dancing and a better orchestra.

This is precisely what makes the directorial intrusions so frustrating. The performance is stupendous, which is why I can't understand why anybody would want cut away from it, or force the audience to watch it through puddles of water.

Nonetheless, I watch this version of Giselle more often than the others I have on my shelf (though I am also fond of the Ferri/La Scala and Walsh/Australian Ballet).

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Yeah, but what do you mean by it?

Yeah, well, this has some of the colours, especially in the woman's dress at right and the man at left seated holding this pole or musical instrument or whatever it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pieter_...%C3%84._014.jpg

The colours are not all of it (some dancers not in this Giselle production would exemplify this on a regular basis, some not, but that's too subjective possibly, so I won't name them), but they are the most literal given that real peasants and ballets peasants do not project plumpness of the same order--although there are plenty of other Breughel peasant paintings that illustrate some of that aspect more. It's probably that these warm earthy colours do allow the dancers certain freedoms of a more 'naturist' sensuality than the more severe colours used for princes and the starched look some ballerina-tutus for princesses have, and which are perhaps more vertical and stately. The peasants are a little 'easier' than Siegfried's parents, for example.

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The director is the infamous Hugo Niebling, the man responsible for the crazy editing of the Balanchine ballets filmed in Germany during the early 70s. He seemed to think his vision was more important than the choreographer's. In those films, we got close-ups of ears and toe shoes and shots of dancing through chandeliers. It's frustrating because the dancing in many of his films is so good, one just wishes it could be enjoyed without Niebling poking his way into it.

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I'm with Volcanohunter on this.I do watch it for the snippets of great dancing but I find myself drawn to the Christine Walsh one. I dont really know why. Walsh is not a great technician and yet her overall performance is so emotionally moving and the whole ensemble works well. I am sort of at a loss to know why i am drawn to this one over the Fracci - Bruyn one when their actual dancing is so much better. It is probably that the Gielgud production with Walsh has more actual integrity because the filming is better.

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The peasant pas de deux is one of those jaw dropping moments! (come on, there must have been a story behind that decision!!)

It would be very interesting if some enterprising company rereleased this with a commentary track featuring Carla Fracci, Bruce Marks, Ted Kivitt and Eleanor D'Antuono, all of whom are all still with us.

I challenge anyone (in friendly spirit) to recommend another Giselle which has better principals and dancing and a better orchestra.

This is precisely what makes the directorial intrusions so frustrating. The performance is stupendous, which is why I can't understand why anybody would want cut away from it, or force the audience to watch it through puddles of water.

Exactly. I was watching this recently and it is obvious that ABT was surging through this. Show me the dancing and not some gnarled peasant eating cheese!

One wonders where the outtakes are stored....

I would love it if there was a 2-disc Criterion release. The theatrical cut would be on disc one. Then, if the cut footage still exists, release a new cut excising all of the weird directorial choices (hello gnarled cheese-eating peasant!) or release the dances, uncut in their entirety, as extras.

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