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  • Valentino The Last Emperor

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on October 28th, 2009

    (out of 5)

    No one who knows me will find it terribly surprising to hear me admit that I know very little about the fashion industry, nor do I have a particular interest in it. Having said that, I was, to my pleasant surprise, gripped by this documentary. It tracks the final year of legendary designer Valentino’s career as he prepares his new line and the big celebration of his 45 years in the business. But there are clouds on the horizon, too. He and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti are no longer the owners of the Valentino company, and the pressures of the new corporate world are bearing down. The films is thus a fascinating look behind the scenes of numerous facets of the Valentino’s world: his life, how he works, his explosive temper, and the sad fact that the world of design is changing in ways that are forcing individual creative artists to the margins. Well worth watching.


    As a general rule, once can’t expect the same standard of picture quality in a documentary as one is used to in a fictional piece, where all the time and money in the world can be spent on having the look of the film be just so. But in this case, and appropriately enough, given its subject matter, the colours are very strong, as is the sharpness. There is very little grain, and only the occasional minor bit of edge enhancement. In sum, this is a fine looking documentary.


    As with the picture, so with the sound. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve reviewed documentaries and have had to explain that the video and audio ratings were rather meaningless, as it was unfair to apply the same standards to docs as one does for the other movies on this site. But again, the sound is surprisingly good, with a very active surround aspect by documentary standards. The background music, of course, sounds great, but there is an actual sense of environment as well.

    Special Features

    The Perfect Life: Around the World with Valentino: (30:00) This piece expands the on the scenes in the feature where we see Valentino’s luxurious lifestyle. His major domo is our guide here through various palatial homes and the like around the world.

    The Last Collection: (8:00).

    The Red Dress: (8:00). Both of these featurettes, though short, follow the long one’s strategy of expanding on briefer moments in the film. The first’s title is self-explanatory, and as for the second, red dresses are Valentino’s signature item.

    Final Thoughts

    I don’t think I’ll be taking out a subscription to Vogue anytime soon, but this is pretty fascinating, and at times quite moving, material.

    Posted In: 1.78:1 Widescreen, Disc Reviews, Documentary, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), DVD, Phase 4 Films

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