Photo: Criterion Channel
First off, the question must be asked, what is Criterion? Criterion was founded in 1984 and is a company that distributes home-video products. The Criterion Collection is another name for Criterion and is a series of films that the company re-releases onto their streaming platform, The Criterion Channel. Criterion also releases films every month into stores in DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD formats. Each film is packed with exclusive special features which could include audio commentaries, essays, trailers, or full documentaries. Needless to say, Criterion puts a lot of effort into these releases and it shows.
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Criterion releases a number of films into the collection each month. On the fifteenth of each month, or more recently days after the fifteenth, Criterion announces which films it will be adding to the collection. The films that are added to the collection each month vary greatly but most are of the arthouse variety. Though, as of recently, Criterion has started to release some newer films which fall a little out of the arthouse genre. A film like ‘One Night in Miami’ comes to mind as a recent release which some may argue either does not deserve the Criterion treatment or one that does not belong in the collection altogether. But most of the time Criterion goes to the effort to release little-known films without established home-video releases to the collection. This provides fans of The Criterion Collection with access to new cultures and film styles that they may not already be familiar with.
All in all, Criterion is a blessing to the film world and a collection that many film lovers benefit from, especially in the months of July and November since that is when Barnes and Noble have their bi-annual 50% sale on the entire collection. Criterion does a great job of expanding the horizons of film from all over the world and introducing many people to films and auteurs that they may not have ever even heard of before. I can speak from personal experience that the Criterion Collection has changed my life for the better and I believe that it has changed the lives of many fellow cinema lovers as well.
The Criterion Channel vs. The Criterion Collection
After writing that love letter to Criterion, I would like to expand on the differences between Criterion’s two main money-makers, that being The Criterion Channel and The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Channel is a paid subscription-based service that works to release new films every so often so that they may be streamed and enjoyed by people all over the world. As I mentioned previously, most of the films which are released there are indie films that I have never heard of, but also films which I love to learn more about and explore. This is one of my favorite parts about The Criterion Channel. I love that it exposes me to new aspects of cinema and that it allows me to learn and experience more about cinema. I am also not alone in this love. I am sure that many people also share in this drive and passion for learning more about movies, and that we share the same feelings about The Criterion Channel since it allows us to indulge in these ambitions to learn. There is no doubt that The Criterion Channel is a complete blessing to cinema lovers all over the world and one of the best parts of the Criterion brand. But there is another part of the Criterion brand which I love dearly, and that is The Criterion Collection itself.
The Criterion Collection is essentially the physical version of The Criterion Channel, and quite frankly, it is just as lovely as The Criterion Channel. The Criterion Collection not only works hard to expose avid cinema lovers to new areas of cinema from all over the world but it also serves as a fun hobby. I am among many people who love to collect Criterion Collection media. I love the extensive extras that are included with every DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD movie. I feel that they allow me to learn even more about the cinematic process and about the movie which I have just experienced. But the extras are not the only thing that makes the physical Criterion Collection special. The Criterion Collection media also all come with new restorations of the movie that is being re-released. Whether it is a 2k or 4k upgrade depends on the movie being rereleased but nevertheless all Criterion Collection media come with some sort of restoration. This allows these films that are being released to be seen in even greater detail than they were upon release. This is incredible and, again, one of the many reasons why I love The Criterion Collection so much.
The Criterion name is one that is extremely special to me and many people all over the world. The opportunities to see new and important movies that the collection and channel provide are unmatched by any other company out there. Not only do the two provide many with a great hobby to indulge in but they also allow many to dive into their wildest cinema fantasies and experience pure film nirvana. I do not know where my cinema knowledge would be without Criterion or where my love of movies would be either. I feel as if I am a more cultured cinema observer as a result of Criterion’s existence and that Criterion has made me a better filmmaker as well. Altogether, Criterion has changed my life and the home media landscape for years to come. The effort and vigor that they put into each release on The Criterion Channel and The Criterion Collection are unmatched and show Criterion’s dire devotion to cinema and the cinematic experience.
By Nathaniel Lee
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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