For someone who touts himself as a film buff who has seen many different kinds of movies throughout many different eras, the one style that I have always had a problem sitting through are silent movies. Masterpieces such as Nosferatu and Metropolis have only garnered my attention for roughly half of the showing before I quit—perhaps I should give them another go. Nevertheless, to date, I have only been able to sit through two in their entirety: Carl Theodore Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (I am also a big fan of his groundbreaking horror flick Vampyr, which is nearly silent, save for a few sounds and lines of dialogue here and there that do not really advance the story), and after last night, The Phantom Carriage, directed by Victor Sjostrom. I decided to take a gamble and buy the Criterion Collection edition of the film on Blu-Ray, after being captivated by its eerie cover picture of a ghostly carriage, with a sickle in the hands of its driver. I have never been so engrossed by a silent film, and never thought it would even be possible. The background music certainly helped it along, and overall, it was an outstanding viewing experience.
No brand of DVD’s has ever gotten me more excited or caused me to sing songs of praise like the Criterion Collection has, since I first discovered them a few years ago. On this site, whenever I have reviewed a movie released by the CC I have made special note of it, because the product they put forth is superior to any other kind on the market. But they do not just release good movies, that would be too simple. They turn movies into an art-form, something that film should have always been considered.
From classic masterpieces to long forgotten silent and foreign films, the Criterion Collection has had their hand in it. Aside from the high-definition transfer and the amazing cover art work that accompanies all of their movies, the discs are loaded with extras that make you appreciate the film that you are watching. There is not a DVD company out there that has taken so much time to carefully examine a film and set it up to perfection. This leads to the only real problem I have with the Criterion Collection—the price.
Because of all the extras and care given to every DVD, the prices for most of their movies are higher than what one would normally like to pay. This is why I resign most of my viewings to Netflix, who despite the many problems I have had with, supplies Criterion movies. Every so often, though, Barnes & Noble will have a 50% off sale, and there is actually one happening right now as we speak.
This is the time to make your purchases, as I did the last time they had one of these sales over the summer. I was able to pick up Vampyr, Che, and The Last Wave. I also bought The Seventh Seal, but had to bring it back and return it several times because it would not play entirely on my DVD player. There must have been a defect in the certain batch shipped to that store, but they gave me my money back. Nevertheless, I didn’t want my money back—I wanted the movie. The only other Criterion movies aside from those three that I own are Brazil and Salo: or the 120 Days of Sodom.
After counting off the top of my head how many Criterion films I have watched over the years, I came to 24, but I know it is more than that. Among those are the ones mentioned above, and also A Night to Remember, the best movie made about the Titanic to date, The Passion of Joan of Arc, a silent masterpiece that still holds up to today, and Solyaris, the Russian science-fiction epic that would later be adapted by Steven Soderbergh in 2002. I also currently have two of their films from Netflix that I have yet to watch: Black Narcissus and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
I cannot recommend that you check out their movies enough. If you want to experience the world of film making, don’t waste hundreds of dollars on a film class, where the same films are shown over and over again (Citizen Kane, Metropolis, and The Searchers, to name a few), go get yourself Netflix, or better yet, run to Barnes & Noble and take advantage of this latest sale. You will not be disappointed in what you find. These are not movies, but works of art.
About two hours ago I received an email from Barnes and Noble announcing a major sale of all Criterion Collection DVD’s; a whopping 50% off. I swear by movies released by this company, because they put forth a superior product, and dedicate themselves to the preservation and restoration of films as an art form.
Criterion DVDs are also very expensive, meaning that I do not often by them. Out of the hundreds of films I own, I have only two from this company: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s shocking Salo: or the 120 Days of Sodom, and Terry Gilliam’s dystopian comedy Brazil. But today, I got so excited after getting this email that I ran to the store and bought two more (and will no-doubt be back again).
The two films I had been wanting to buy for the last few months were very pricey, but this sale put a dent in that. So I picked up Carl Theodore Dryer’s Vampyr and my recently reviewed Che. Even with the 50% off they still came to more than what I would normally spend on a DVD, but they cannot be bought anywhere else for cheaper, so I consider it a wise investment.
The sale will continue now through August 2, and I highly suggest you take a trip to your local Barnes and Noble and check out their foreign or Art House sections to find terrific films at the best price they will ever be sold at.