My previous post, regarding Hitchcock’s Notorious, was my official entry into the #CriterionBlogathon. This has been a very fun event for me personally, and it has been gratifying to have interactions with new readers from literally all over the world.
I thought it would be fun to talk a little about what the Criterion Collection means to film lovers like me, and share a few of my favorite posts from the Blogathon. The full list of posts is found HERE.
Though there was one negative tweet I saw this week claiming that a bunch of film blowhards were sucking up to Criterion and giving them free advertisements, most of the tweets and posts under the hashtag #CriterionBlogathon have been positive and fun. The participants understand this for what it is, a celebration of great films, not really a promotion for a home video company. I think that many people’s contrarian “internet hater” lashes out at the Criterion Collection for its perceived elitism, or that their discs are too expensive, or that the selection of films admitted to the prestigious list contains this or that director whom they love to hate. Usually, the target of that hate is Wes Anderson. You may note (see Fig. 1, above) that I don’t share that particular complaint, though I also don’t in any way share the reverence for the Criterion seal of approval that compels me to be a Criterion completionist in viewing the films, much less in owning them on disc.
Criterion describes themselves as “a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films,” which begs the question, “according to whom?” Well, them, of course. But if you peruse the list of their films, you will see that it contains far more consensus “great films” than, say…..films like Scanners.
The truth is, many of the films in the Criterion Collection would be nearly impossible to see, even in the age of the internet, without their preservation, restoration, and presentation efforts. Those efforts cost money, and when the audience for the films they are presenting (read: demand) is typically only a tiny fraction of a standard Hollywood film, the discs are going to be expensive if they are to be made with care.
The Seeing and Believing podcast recorded an interesting episode where they talked about the importance of the Criterion Collection to film lovers, in the context of a discussion about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. You can see my own collection of Criterion discs above, but that only represents a small number of the many many films I have been privileged to view thanks to the availability of Criterion discs at my local library. If like me, budgets don’t permit you to buy every film you are interested in seeing, I recommend that route for expanding your film horizons.
Now for some of my favorite posts of the Blogathon, in no particular order.
- Aurora’s Gin Joint – My Darling Clementine. A great overview of Col. Potter’s favorite film.
- Criterion Blues – Apu Trilogy. One of the Blogathon’s host sites. These films are at the very top of my “to see” list.
- Criterion Affection – Children of Paradise. Short on text, but this unique blogger creates original artwork for each film she views!
- Film Ruminations – The Third Man. Great overview of the Carol Reed/Orson Welles classic.
- Old Hollywood Films – Red River. The Howard Hawks epic is given a fine review here.
- Pinnland Empire – Close-up and Taste of Cherry. Kiarostami is the most fascinating director I have been introduced to in the last couple years, and I really appreciated this piece on two of his films.
- Silverbluesnow – Certified Copy. This piece gave lots of great background info on Iranian film.
- Brian Camp’s Film and Anime Blog – Sanshiro Sugata, Parts I and II. I’ve only seen the first of these early Kurosawa films. Interesting discussion of the martial arts styles, and of the wartime attitudes towards the West on display. Also a comparison to an Anime version of the story.
- Destroy all Fanboys! – High and Low. I did not realize that this amazing Kurosawa film was based on an English language novel.
- Checkpoint Telstar – Robocop. Yep. Robocop.
- Silver Scenes – Robinson Crusoe on Mars. I’ve been curious about this one for a while based on the title alone. Based on this post, I definitely want to see it.
- Marvel Presents Salò – Beastie Boys Video Anthology. Seeing that video for “Sabotage” again really takes me back!
- Plot and Theme – Macbeth. Great discussion on the challenges of adapting Shakespeare’s text to film.
- Jahnke’s Electric Theater – “Criterion and Animation.” As a huge animation buff, I agree with his assessment that this is a big hole in the Collection. I would add Grave of the Fireflies as one other possible worthy addition to Criterion’s roster.
- //lillybelle.productions – The Lower Depths (x2). Great background info on both Renoir and Kurosawa’s adaptations. One of the few Kurosawa/Mifune collaborations I have yet to see.
- Make Mine Criterion! – “(My) Top Ten List.” Nice personal essay on a top 12, really, but with discussions of a bunch of other great films along the way.
- Yes, I Know – Seven Samurai. Personal tribute to one of the greatest films of all time.
- Criterion Reflections – “Chaplin on Criterion Through the Decades (1910s – 1950s).” Epic chronological survey of Chaplin’s entire career. Of course, no discussion of Chaplin’s films is possible it seems without discussing Chaplin the man as well.
- Speakeasy – In Cold Blood. Another film I haven’t seen, but now l intended to. From the description I feel that the director’s approach in recreating the crime using actual participants and locations must have influenced CLOSE-UP.
There were lots of great posts in the event, and it was a tremendous amount of fun. If you follow #CriterionBlogathon on social media, you can see all the related goings-on. The Criterion Collection even noted the event on their website. Tolle, lege!