Anyone who has been collecting movies since the early days of LaserDisc will be familiar with The Criterion Collection.The specialty label has probably done more for film fans and collectors than any other over the last two decades, releasing classic and contemporary films on home video in their correct aspect ratios and with documentaries, deleted scenes and other interesting behind-the-scenes content. The entire idea of commentary tracks was pioneered by Criterion and many recent filmmakers have identified those early Criterion LaserDiscs as being influential, allowing them to listen as great directors like Martin Scorsese described how they made their classic films.
More recently Criterion has moved into DVD and now Blu-ray distribution, not only continuing to include exclusive content and a strict adherence to the creator's original intention but also championing restoration and preservation of many classic and contemporary movies. The only problem until now has been that Criterion DVDs were locked to Region 1 and their Blu-ray releases were locked to Region A. This meant that film fans wanting to buy Criterion Blu-rays from the US either needed a Region 1/A player or one that had been modified to play Region 1/A.
Although even if you could play Region 1 DVDs or Region A Blu-ray discs, you also had the additional cost of importing them from the US. Thankfully fans of Criterion here in the UK can now start collecting the label's classic Blu-ray releases on Region B and at a far more sensible price, as The Criterion Collection finally arrives on our shores. The first titles were released on the 18th of April and include the exact same transfers, features and cover art as the US versions. They are also locked to Region B and are available at a far more reasonable price of £17.99. The first six Criterion Collection titles are:
Tootsie - read the review here
Speedy - read the review here
Grey Gardens - read the review here
Only Angles have Wings - read the review here
The Tragedy of Macbeth - read the review here
It Happened One Night - read the review here
Whilst Criterion clearly doesn't have a language barrier when it comes to releasing content in the UK, there was always the problem of the UK using PAL rather than NTSC for DVD. That isn't a problem with Blu-ray and the UK is a strong market when it comes to collectible film releases, even in the face of falling disc sales and more streaming services. The arrival of Criterion is certainly good news for film fans and the label plans to reach a point of critical mass quickly by dipping into its 800 plus back catalogue of titles and releasing six films every couple of months. So which classic or contemporary films would you like Criterion to release from their inventory? Let us know in the discussion thread.
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