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Why I Collect


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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Stu Rosen

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Posted August 10 2009 - 12:10 AM

Thanks to the many of you who took the time to read my blog piece on The Criterion Collection.  Here's something I wrote last month on collecting - I know you'll relate to this:

http://toomuchcultur...ersions-of.html





 

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted August 10 2009 - 01:47 AM

Stu,

I'll closed the copy of this thread you posted in "Movies & Documentaries" and redirected anyone who's interested to this version.

As I already said there: our members generally do not "promote" their own personal sites (see the HTF rules - link at the bottom of my post), but we'll allow this for old time's sake, and because the "commercial" intentions seem minimal to me. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif">

And I do like some of your obsevations about collecting films (most apply to book collections as well).  <br /></span>
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#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted August 10 2009 - 04:27 AM

I liked the honesty of your piece, it was free of the kind of delusional justification that usually goes along with these arguments.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted August 10 2009 - 04:40 AM

Good piece, and very on the mark. Reminds me of a scene in a Warren Zevon documentary. Zevon, who is dying of cancer, walks through his house, and passes bookshelves full of books, and quotes someone else as saying "We buy books because we think we are buying the time to read them."

Also reminds me of the great Twilight Zone episode, Time Enough At Last.


#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted August 10 2009 - 04:53 AM

I can relate to that article on many levels, Stu. 

Do I really need to own every version of Blade Runner, or 2001: A Space Odyssey, Chariots of Fire, or The English Patient?.  Probably not, but every incremental upgrade has been worth the purchase price for a favorite film.

For instance, The English Patient
- Origiinal Laser Disc release
- DTS Laser Disc release
- 1st R1 DVD (flat, letterboxed)
- Japanese Import with 16x9 enhancment
- 2nd R1 DVD SE release on DVD
- Alliance Blu-Ray


- Walter.


Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#6 of 37 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 10 2009 - 05:12 AM

Quote:
Collecting is the act of making a wish - it's a wish that you will have all the time in the world to watch each and every movie; read every book while every song you own plays just loudly enough in the background to assert itself.
That strikes me a euphemistic way of saying that collecting is a continuing irrational act by someone unable to exercise self control. You know you won't use these items, that they will simply collect dust in shelves and boxes, but you spend your limited money on it regardless.

Now, I don't mean to attack. We're all irrational in our interesting ways. I spend money pursuing a verdant lawn. You might think that literally buying dirt is a far less sensible thing than buying unwatched DVDs.

But, the aspect of this "collecting" that most confuses me is that it's not actually a pursuit of art or beauty. My purchases of dirt and grass seed are in the attempt to create beauty (in my eyes) by cultivating a lush, green yard. The art collector, be it classic or pop, ostensibly is acquring pieces that are displayed, seen, and enjoyed. The other sort of collector that makes sense buys items, locks them away safely, and anticipates their value to increase for future profit.

But the media collector described in this essay neither enjoys the art nor invests in it. The collection is apparently boxed and shelved and not seen by anyone. And then eventually sold at a nearly total loss or simply put in the trash.

So while I can rationalize my purchase of dirt from the hardware store, :) I can't see the "collecting" of DVDs in this manner as much more than an irrational waste of money. But that may say more about me than the essayist. :)


#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted August 10 2009 - 05:37 AM

I've pretty much stopped collecting films now. Having amassed something like 1500 DVDs (I stopped counting at 1200), I realised it would take me around five years to rewatch everything I already have just one more time. So I've come to the conclusion that collecting, for me, is a waste of time and money. There are simply too many films that I haven't seen that I'd rather watch over something that I have seen.

Now that blu-ray is taking off, I've bought a handful of particular favourites ("Blade Runner", "2001", "Ghostbusters") that I know I'll pull out and watch at least once every couple of years, and I can see amassing a collection of about 50-100 films. But otherwise, it's rentals and the movie channels for me from here on out.

Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife. Doomed is your soul and damned is your life.

#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Big Ben

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Posted August 10 2009 - 05:58 AM

Collecting movies for me is like a drug.  About 6 years years ago I took this to a new extreme when a local video store started selling used DVD's for killer prices.  This was especially tempting since it would allow me to check out smaller films that never made it to my local theaters.  I myself have now amassed so many many DVD's I've lost count (and I've been collecting DVDs since April 1998), and don't even get me started on the number of DVD's that I have'nt even gotten around to opening out of their shrink wrap.

In my defense, now that I have Hi-Def viewing equipment and have been sucked in completly by it's undeniable improvment in PQ and AQ, I need to look into somehow returning or exchanging any of my unopened DVD versions for Blu-Ray editions.  I'm finding myself watching at least one Blu-Ray every night.  Now that I've experineced 1080p and DTS-MA (the latest new drug), and can never go back to plain 'ol DVD.
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#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Hollywoodaholic

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Posted August 10 2009 - 08:39 AM

Good piece. And a topic I've often tried to explain or rationalize myself.

First, I find the process more rewarding than the object. The hunt is everything. Not just the hunt to gather a favorite title, but the hunt to score it for a discount price. Then it sits on your shelf. You may or may not watch it at some point. But it's there. It's part of your libary. It's part of the overall reflection of you.

Second, on that note (and this truly is a rationalization), I think of it as a library for my son (now 12) to access as a film class unto itself. This, of course, is a delusion. The idea that he will be interested in the same films as I am is completely narcissistic. Will he care about the lovely French farce, "King of Hearts?" Doubtful. Right now he likes "Transformers 2," which was painful for me to sit through. No story. No plot. No characters I gave a shit about. Sigh. But hope does spring eternal. And there is the hope that, if my son every really does want to know the old man inside and out, he can just check out my DVD libary. And then he might understand "A Clockwork Orange" as a filmmaker's masterpiece and not a teenage rebellion instruction manual.

My final rationalization is that my library is somewhat ... organic. It's never static or un-evolving. I am constantly trading in the favorites and replacing them with Blu-rays, or just filtering out the stuff I never imagine watching again, or that I bought on a whim (my expensive 'rentals' I call them). My book library is the same. Someone once suggested that your library should never be anything but the books you INTEND to read, or read again. Anything else, already read, just pass it on.

Let's face it, this stuff is just passing through us anyway. It really is a delusion to think our particular collection will mean anything significant to anyone other than ourselves. So let's enjoy the moment, enjoy the hunt, take a snapshot, and then let it go or pass it on.

One of my great joys now is to just pluck something from the DVD or book library and GIVE IT to someone at work or in the family whom I think might enjoy it - because of something I already know about their interests or tastes as a friend or relative. I don't want to reach my final breath and let go of the proverbial snow globe while this big collection just sits there collecting dust, and no one else cares about it. If I'm completely successful, one by one, those books and DVDs will find new homes as seeds planted in other ... organic libraries.

But for the moment; for now ... I'm still enjoying mine.


#10 of 37 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted August 10 2009 - 11:35 AM

 Sharing movie experiences, whether through talking them up, or loaning them to trusted parties, is about as close as I'll ever come to spreading a gospel. In this regard I do have a library, both DVD and BD, though far more limited than many other members. To some degree, it seems to go along with caring enough to own a home theater set-up.  

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted August 10 2009 - 02:21 PM


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF ">

That strikes me a euphemistic way of saying that collecting is a continuing irrational act by someone unable to exercise self control. You know you won't use these items, that they will simply collect dust in shelves and boxes, but you spend your limited money on it regardless.

Now, I don't mean to attack. We're all irrational in our interesting ways. I spend money pursuing a verdant lawn. You might think that literally buying dirt is a far less sensible thing than buying unwatched DVDs.

But, the aspect of this "collecting" that most confuses me is that it's not actually a pursuit of art or beauty. My purchases of dirt and grass seed are in the attempt to create beauty (in my eyes) by cultivating a lush, green yard. The art collector, be it classic or pop, ostensibly is acquring pieces that are displayed, seen, and enjoyed. The other sort of collector that makes sense buys items, locks them away safely, and anticipates their value to increase for future profit.

But the media collector described in this essay neither enjoys the art nor invests in it. The collection is apparently boxed and shelved and not seen by anyone. And then eventually sold at a nearly total loss or simply put in the trash.

So while I can rationalize my purchase of dirt from the hardware store, :) I can't see the "collecting" of DVDs in this manner as much more than an irrational waste of money. But that may say more about me than the essayist. :)
 
At first, I was inclined to agree w/ you -- and I do find myself regularly conflicted between both my more irrational side of collecting (akin to Stu's) and my need to justify my collecting (more akin to yours).

However, I wonder though whether the justification of pursuing art/beauty isn't anymore a (unconfessed) rationalization than the (confessed) one that Stu offered.  Just the fact that you admit that such pursuit is likely merely one to satisfy one's own self and nobody else seems to suggest it's not much different than Stu's compulsion to collect.  It's just that Stu has decided to admit the conceit that whatever justifications he used to have (and might still like to hold to) are merely just that and likely nothing more.

I'm of course basically delving here into the question of "what is art?" and/or "what is beauty?", which I do find fascinating even as I look at it from the POV of amateur photography (among other things).  Also, I find the question interesting wrt the cinema itself -- and it's something to which Stu also vaguely alluded in his rationalization (particularly as it relates to sharing films w/ others).

And also, how is the process that Stu goes thru all that different from the process that an artist goes thru?  Perhaps, there is indeed "art" and "beauty" in the very process (and life journey) that he has undertaken.  I've been told by some that a photo w/out an underlying (likely time/effort consuming) "process" is merely a snapshot regardless of how pretty, interesting or whatever-you-choose it may seem.  Some others feel that there only needs to be a (interesting) "vision" and effective execution of it w/out necessarily a lot of "work" involved.  But it seems to me Stu's approach to collecting might in its own way satisfy both of these requirements.  Certainly, for myself, I do find the entirety of it (including his thoughts on it) more interesting and closer to "art" and a certain (odd, but very human) "beauty" than my nextdoor neighbor's pretty lawn, etc. <br /></span>
<br />
To each his own I guess... /img/vbsmilies/htf/smiley_wink.gif <br /></span>
<br />
BTW, Stu, I also enjoy this read just as I did the other one on your take about Criterion titles. <span rel='lightbox'><img class='bbc_img' alt=

_Man_

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"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Stu Rosen

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Posted August 10 2009 - 03:37 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong ">


BTW, Stu, I also enjoy this read just as I did the other one on your take about Criterion titles. <br /></span>
<br />
_Man_</div></div>
Thanks!  I'm surprised, and happy, to see it sparked some debate (I certainly debate myself on this topic).  
					
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#13 of 37 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted August 11 2009 - 01:05 AM

 When you think about it, we dont need any of this stuff. All we need is food, and a place to sleep. Everything, and i mean everything else is bonus. Its what makes work worth doing, and it makes life easier. My ex always liked to tell me i dont need all my movies and music. Of course she was right, i didnt need it, but it made me happy to have it.

#14 of 37 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted August 11 2009 - 01:32 AM

Parts of my collections (books and movies) are practical--I'm an historian (so I have a LOT of history books) and one of my research areas is historical feature films (so I have a LOT of such films).  Parts are very inexpensive (I have a lot of movies that I've purchased at prices lower than a rental and far lower than a cinema ticket--and I have a lot of used books that I've gotten for little money).

I share a number of "rationalizations" with posts above--RickER is right, all we NEED is food, clothing and shelter.  And should some catastrophe come along that strips me of my possessions, I'll be sad, but life will continue.  I collect some films and books because I think my children will also benefit from exposure to them.  I collect films because I like to have people over to watch them with me in the "man-cave" (I have one good friend who is not financially well-off and I enjoy sharing my set-up with him whenever we can do so).  I collect films and books because I can afford them and enjoy them (same goes with music--I have no professional need for music, so my practical reason above does not apply--but I've attended few symphonic concerts that cost less than any particular CD of a symphony I have on my shelf, for example, so I guess there is one measure of practicality involved).

I harbour no illusions that my personal "library" will be of interest, as a whole, to anyone but me.   However, the pursuit of pleasure--and my books, music and movies provide me with pleasure--is, so long as it is not harmful to others or one's self, not something for which I feel any need to apologize or justify nor is it something I begrudge others.

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#15 of 37 OFFLINE   David Deeb

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Posted August 11 2009 - 06:15 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywoodaholic View Post

Let's face it, this stuff is just passing through us anyway. It really is a delusion to think our particular collection will mean anything significant to anyone other than ourselves. So let's enjoy the moment, enjoy the hunt, take a snapshot, and then let it go or pass it on.
 
This is very true.  I read threads about how people showcase & store their collections (especially limited editions); or how "such-and-such" disc is demo material.  

But the truth of the matter is very few people (besides other collectors) are that interested in it.  Our collections are about as interesting as going over to a friends house and seeing dozens of golf bags lined up, or seeing how they have a "reference" or "demo" putter.  I could care less.

My collection (probably rather small compared to those with 1,500) and my home theater is a great hobby, but its not an investment. 

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted August 11 2009 - 01:15 PM

BTW, if (any of) you are like me, you can easily justify buying many movies (especially when done at good sale prices) as a substitute for buying a couple tix (and maybe also paying for childcare) to see each movie at the local theater. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smiley_wink.gif"> <br /></span>
<br />
Personally, I rarely feel a need to see something on a bigger screen than what I already own -- and most times, I can wait the 5-6 months for new day-and-date releases.  Spending the $$$ to go to the theater usually requires a bigger leap of "rationalization", IMHO (at least in my case), than buying some BDs, but plenty of non-collectors happily spend the $$$ at the boxoffice anyway. /img/vbsmilies/htf/tongue.gif

Of course, that does bring us back to the issue of knowingly buying way more than we could reasonably watch.  But hey, I guess shopping is part of the fun too -- most women have their shoes and handbags, etc., and I guess many of us here have our movie (and music) collections. <br /></span>
<br />
An acquaintance, who does seem to enjoy films a bit more than the avg casual movie-goer, recently asked if I'm "one of those movie nuts", and after a moment's thought, I admitted w/ a smile, "I guess so" although I'm probably at least as much a collecting nut as I'm any other kind of nut. <span rel='lightbox'><img class='bbc_img' alt=

_Man_

Edited by Man-Fai Wong - 8/12/2009 at 01:26 am GMT
Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   Big Ben

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Posted August 11 2009 - 06:59 PM

This thread is really starting to make me feel like a loser.


"After Fight Club, watching football on television will feel like watching pornography when you could be having great sex." - Jack the Narrator
 

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted August 12 2009 - 12:43 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Ben 

This thread is really starting to make me feel like a loser.

I would hardly go that far. I have a friend who has a large collection of comic books and action figures and he was thinking about getting rid of them once because his girlfriend at the time didn't think it was cool. (His current girlfriend thinks it is cool that he has things like that that make him happy.) I'll tell you what I told him: Life is too short and too hard to let anyone else tell you what you should enjoy.


#19 of 37 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted August 12 2009 - 01:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Favate ">

I'll tell you what I told him: Life is too short and too hard to let anyone else tell you what you should enjoy.
 

I agree.

As someone who spends his time, money and energy on all kinds of crazy crap, I think you're good to go as long as you're not letting your hobby interfere with real life. If it comes down to paying your mortage or getting the Battlestar Galactica Blu-ray series set, choose the mortage. 
					
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#20 of 37 OFFLINE   John Sparks

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Posted August 12 2009 - 03:02 AM

I love walking into my game room closet and looking at my 900+ SDs and my 75+ BDs/HDDVDs and wonder what I'm going to watch today.

I'm retired and I have the rest of my life to enjoy them. My passion is sci-fi/horror with animation and comedy with a sprinkling of old TV shows.

I love sitting down in my home media center surrounded with sci-fi/horror old movie posters which I collect too!

This is my hobby and has always been...collecting and watching movies. Now, my wife would like to take down some of the posters, but it's my room.

I have over 500+ LDs, quite a few I've never even watched, like many of the serials. It's tough to watch the color ones, but the b&ws aren't to bad. Haven't watched a LD in over 2 years. Anyone want to buy them plus the LD/DVD player? Pickup only.

I've upgraded as the industry has moved along and I'm a happy camper.

This afternoon is the SD serial of "The Green Hornet Strikes Back" and tonite is the BD of "Big Trouble in Little China"...the best of all worlds!


Edited by John Sparks - 8/12/2009 at 03:45 pm GMT
...retired at last...and Ray Harryhausen at my side!!!

 

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