So what's the big deal about Criterion Collection?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by AaronNWilson, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. AaronNWilson

    AaronNWilson Second Unit

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    I'm not being smart, I just honestly don't know what their scoop is. Is it just that they are good DVDs?

    Aaron
     
  2. JeremyJones

    JeremyJones Agent

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    To understand why people gush over Criterion, you have to go back to the heyday of Laserdiscs. Criterion put out great special editions of many movies that the studios were unwilling to make. Fast forward to the dvd revolution. Now, most studios are willing to put tons of extras on their dvds (i.e. 15 hours of extras on Snow White, 11 hours on Shrek!), thus taking what I think the real meaning of the Criterion Collection was, a disc FULL of good extras. So, Criterion is now in the business of taking rare or not so well known movies (Seven Samurai, Brazil) or movies that didn't get a decent dvd release (Armageddon, the Rock) and pack them full of good extras. There are very few movies in the Criterion Collection that I personally want, but that's what's great about it. Those few that you DO want in the collection are done up right.
     
  3. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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    If you were or are a fan of the film Brazil, you'll love the Criterion version. This was the first DVD I bought. Brazil's normal DVD release was an afterthought with ho-hum packaging. The Criterion version (3 discs) is just incredible in its packaging and presentation. One disc for the real film, one for the hacked version the studio wanted to release, and a third disc of extras. I still hold up this set as one of the finest ever released.
     
  4. Jim_F

    Jim_F Screenwriter

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    The ones I've rented weren't anamorphic and didn't have a 5.1 soundtrack. Since I don't usually care about extras, many, if not most Criterion DVDs are not for me.
     
  5. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    If I had a choice between a Criterion version of my favorite movie or a Special Edition from the movie studio, I'd most likely choose the CC.
    Their treatment on Brazil is quite simply the finest DVD package ever produced. Watch the different versions and you'll see precisely why this 3-disc set would never have been put out by Universal. (Criterion products seem dedicated to the specific film, not a studio.)
    Criterion DVDs are also particularly great for fans of foreign movies and films off the beaten path.
    Other studios have come forward to produce some truly excellent special editions, but for my money the Criterion Colleciton is still considered the cream of the crop. They make DVDs for movie freaks...like me.
    ------------------
    Scott
    Check out my Movie Reviews at Epinions. Help support my debilitating DVD addiction!
    AOL IM: TheAngryJew29
     
  6. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    The Brazil CC set is the archetype of what a SE should be. All the extras are meaningful not just there to take up space. The Documentary in the set and the hacked version along with its excellent commentary track illustrate how some in the studios just don't understand creativity or film as anything other than butts-in-seats.
    CC can be quite quirky and frustrating in its own way, they are slow to adapt to DVD trends. Although the transfer on the Brazil set is excellent, it is not 16x9 for instance.
    Also worth checking out is the Rushmore CC, another excellent but often overlooked film with a great CC treatment on DVD.
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    -- Will Work for Five Million Dollars
     
  7. Ken Situ

    Ken Situ Stunt Coordinator

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    About the only way to get some foreign films on DVD with high quality is through Criterion.

    Where else can I get Seven Samurai, High and Low, Sanjuro, etc... with very good transfers and audio?
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Criterion gives me Kurosawa movies, and they would never think about even TRYING to put an icky dub track on them
    I like Criterion [​IMG]
    (Oh, and they also do kick-butt SEs of movies I love like Armageddon and The Rock, and Rushmore, and Robocop, and Silence of the Lambs, and Brazil, and on and on)
     
  9. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    I think they state their purpose as being there to provide the "definitive versions of important films". Usually, a criterion disc looks and sounds great, and the other posts are right-Criterion almost inventited supplements. Don't know if this is the right word though, but Criterion discs (at least the few that I own) are all very "classy". Sure, other releases may have more features, but Criterion really seems to put the time into them. Everyone's already talked about Brazil, so I'll mention a few things from The Rock. Not only is there a great presentation of the film, but a commentary edited together from almost all the major players, original featurettes etc, as well as new material such as the gunplay doc made specifically for the DVD by Criterion.
     
  10. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    The Criterion FAQ
    One thing people never seem to understand is that Criterion does not mean "special edition". I defy you to find me one review of a (relatively) bare-bones, or in many cases a special edition, Criterion release that doesn't say "from Criterion, I expected a little more in the extras department".
    Criterion merely put out films in the best possible versions they can. Extensive special editions for every title isn't financially viable or there simply isn't the content available to make it a special edition.
    I'd have thought having the film in the correct aspect ratio, language and version (often in breathtaking quality and with foreign films, re-worked subtitles for greater accuracy in the translation) should be enough for most people.
     
  11. John GB

    John GB Stunt Coordinator

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    For me, Criterion is there for releases of great films that no-one else has released. The restored version of "The Third Man" comes to mind. If you want this noir classic, (Some believe it belongs in every serious film collection) Criterion is the only game in town.

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  12. AdrianJ

    AdrianJ Supporting Actor

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  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  14. Scott Wong

    Scott Wong Second Unit

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    The Criterion Collection has helped me expand my knowledge and appreciation of a good film. It's true, too. There are so many cool movies available that the Criterion Collection has gotten ahold of. Movies I wouldn't have layed a finger on if not for them.
    Scott.
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    Scott's DVD List
     
  15. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Some Criterion DVDs are truly incredible -- The Unbearable Lightness of Being for instance -- great movie, breathtaking anamorphic picture, good sound, first rate commentary. Sullivan's Travels sounds like it is going to be out of this world.
    Unfortunately Criterion continues to release non-anamorphic transfers like Mona Lisa & How to Get Ahead in Advertising so be careful -- the Criterion name is no guarantee of absolute quality. I would rather they release only movies that they can do RIGHT, and that includes anamorphic transfers for all widescreen films.
    Ted
     
  16. ChristopherM

    ChristopherM Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree that "definitive versions of important films" is the best way to describe the Criterion Collection.

    "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is a shining example. One of the finest films in the history of world cinema, and one which suffered censors, fires and misguided reconstructions throughout the last century, is available to own in its definitive form through Criterion.

    The history of the film is well-documented on the disc and the other supplements are wholly appropriate. The modern soundtrack may not be to everybody's taste, but Criterion offer the purely silent version as a menu option and draw attention to the fact that the director expressed a preference for silent screenings.

    Criterion may not have discovered the "Oslo print" or supervised it's restoration themselves, but it is to their credit that they have given this little-seen masterpiece such a fitting showcase.
     
  17. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

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    I love Criterion, because they give many films with minimal
    market potential a decent treatment. Recently, they
    have been a bit hit-and-miss with a couple of titles,
    but generally they do a superlative job.
    And like many others here, sometimes because a film
    is on Criterion DVD, I give the film a chance.
    Now some films I would've missed otherwise
    are some of my favorites:
    The Third Man,
    Brief Encounter
    Le Grande Illusion
    The Seventh Seal
    Black Narcissus
    The 39 Steps
    and on and on.
    I too, am a bit dismayed when people ASSUME
    that EVERY Criterion DVD will be a loaded DVD.
    Much of the time, I just want the picture
    restored.
    Today, nothing thrilled me more than hearing
    what their plans are for Spellbound,
    Notorious,
    and Rebecca.
    In Kind,
    Mark
    [Edited last by Mark Walker on August 17, 2001 at 04:44 PM]
     
  18. Heinz W

    Heinz W Second Unit

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    Rebecca is to be a 2 disc set! I am feverish in anticipation over this one! One of my favorite Hitchcock films of the pre Rear Window days. Now if only Criterion will do a set for Lifeboat! [​IMG]
     
  19. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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  20. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    What is so great about Criterion? I'll echo what others have said, and add some comments of my own:

    1. They release great foreign classics and obscure films that NO OTHER COMPANY is releasing on DVD.

    2. They take painstaking efforts to obtain the best possible prints for their video masters, then spend countless hours digitally removing scratches and dirt.

    3. They ALWAYS present in OAR (unless there is a mistake -- seems like there might have been some confusion about that once). All their new widescreen releases are 16X9 -- they originally were concerned about the display of a 16x9 image on a standard set compromising the image quality.

    4. Several of their titles are restored editions of films that have not been seen in their uncut versions since their theatrical premieres.

    5. As the owner of a laserdisc player since 1983 (God, I'm showing my age), I can tell you first-hand that Criterion did not "virtually" invent the special edition -- they DID invent it. What they VIRTUALLY invented was OAR. To my knowlege, the only home video that had ever been presented in its original aspect ratio prior to Criterion was Woody Allen's "Manhattan," and that was at Allen's insistance.

    The Criterion Collection was launched in 1984 with the simultaneous laserdisc premieres of "Citizen Kane" and "King Kong." Neither of these films had ever appeared on laserdisc before. They were in CAV format (the one that allowed you to freeze frame and do special effects, also provided better picture quality), in big silver boxes. Each was presented in a much better print than had ever been seen on VHS or Beta.

    Each had tons of cool extras that had never before appeared on home video, because most of it you had to frame advance through, "still/step" as they used to call it. You could single frame advance through a series of production photos, script pages, articles, etc. "Kane" had the original theatrical trailer -- unheard of in home video at that time! "Kane" had another cool thing -- as a supplement, the whole movie run at several times normal speed. I think the whole thing lasted 10 minutes.

    Each also had scratch removal done with a computer program -- Microsoft Paintbox or some such thing. I think that was a first for home video, too.

    Another early Criterion title was "2001" -- first time the film had ever been presented OAR on home video, and Kubrick personally supervised Criterion's video transfer.

    Only after Criterion began delivering these special edition titles did it even occur to the studios to start putting out special editions of their own -- of which MGM was the first to do.

    I'll admit some of Criterion's early efforts on DVD weren't all THAT impressive, but they have really come into their own. I just picked up Antonioni's "L'Avventura" the other day, and it looks friggin' amazing -- gorgeous black and white photography. Looks like it was shot yesterday.

    If anyone wants to know why Criterion kicks ass, I'd suggest renting or buying their "Grand Illusion," and immedately going to the Restoration Demonstration. This was supposed to be their premiere title, but they weren't satisfied with the print and decided to search for something better. They found someone who had the original camera negative in Europe -- long thought destroyed in WWII. The before and after comparisions give me chills every time I see them. There is no better demonstration of Criterion's committment to quality.

    [Edited last by Brian W. on August 18, 2001 at 12:23 AM]

    [Edited last by Brian W. on August 18, 2001 at 12:24 AM]
     

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