As I continue with my Criterion Challenge I want to take a moment to explain the collection and its mission. It’s only been within the past year that I started to understand the goals of the company, and when I heard the name prior I just thought it was some film elitist thing.
I purchased my first Criterion Bluray a couple years back and it was the cover art that drew me in. The fact that it was 50% off also didn’t hurt. This is how I ended up with a new version of The Princess Bride. I was impressed by the packaging and all the extra content so I searched for more. Soon I added Pan’s Labyrinth and Silence of the Lambs to my budding collection.
The Criterion Collection was founded in 1984 with the goal of preserving film from around the world and making it accessible to the public. This could be classic or contemporary films, but the company looks to find extraordinary films of all kinds, whether it be B horror or French new wave. Criterion negotiates with whomever has the rights of the wanted movie, which could take years, and they take care to work with the filmmakers and film historians to put out a product that the director would approve.
Due to the nature of the collection, there’s a vibe of film snobbery, but I genuinely feel like the company loves film and is working hard to preserve it. The only actual snobbery I’ve come across is not from the company itself but other film lovers who don’t like that the Collection includes ‘popular’ or newer films. The argument is that Criterion should be for movies that need help.
I think you need movies that get people’s attention and make them look twice. I mean, I feel like I’m a poster child for this, since we are now two years from my first purchase and at present I’m participating in a year long Criterion Challenge. They also need movies that will help pay the bills. It takes lots of money to buy rights, gather all the supplementary material, transfer older movies to dvd/bluray, and market.**
And honestly these so-called ‘popular’ movies have a place in the Criterion. The only movie that keeps me up at night is Armegaddon. The one with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. Yeah, that’s in the collection. Why? *the biggest shrug* Your guess is as good as mine.
Because of my own love of movies I’m trying to push my own boundaries with film challenges. There’s always duds along the way but getting a surprise makes it worth it. I know the 52 movies I’ve chosen for the Letterbox challenge are only a slice of what the Criterion has to offer, but I’m confident this will be an exciting ride.
If you wish to see the prompts for the Criterion challenge, the movies I’ve chosen for them, and my progress, you can find my list here. Movies can leave the collection but I’m not going to be that strict with the challenge. All the movies were a part of the Criterion when I made the list and that’s what matters to me!
Cheers to 2022!
**Just today Criterion announced their upcoming movies for April. Some complained that there weren’t any ‘popular’ titles since all the titles weren’t well-known and felt disappointed. You just can’t win!
Edit: Added the link and a picture. Geez, must’ve been tired last night.