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Why I collect DVDs

I was struck by Tambay’s recent comment, on his recent post about the new Apple iPad, that he does most of his movie watching on his laptop and  hasn’t rented a DVD from Netflix for the longest. I must assume he’s speaking for a lot of people who do the same thing. However, I must be getting old (…no I AM old) because I can’t imagine myself ever doing that. I LOVE my DVDs (That’s not my collection the photo but it comes damn near close and it gets bigger every week). In fact, believe it or not, I’ve never once rented anything from Netflix and that’s because I buy DVDs, not rent them and will never give them up. Now I did stop long time ago renting DVDs from rental stores (when they were still around) mainly because the selections were always so poor. Their selections usually consisted of a 1000 copies of whatever came out six months earlier and lousy straight-to-DVD titles usually starring Vivica A. Fox, Val Kilmer or Steven Segal that I had no interest in.

I buy at least 2 or 3 a week and  never ever at full price. Who does? Thank God for Ebay, used DVDs stores like Reckless Records and online stores where something is always for sale at a big discount. And if I happen to buy something I’m not crazy about, straight it goes to an used DVD store where I can trade it in for something I know I’ll like that I can get for a 50 cents difference or get a few bucks back.

I have a feeling that people are downloading more and more films and watching them on their computers or iPhones or what have you because they’re not that good. If something really means something to you wouldn’t you want to keep it? Not surpringly the majority of my collection is made up of films made before 1980. I’ve got everything from the 1930′s through to the 1970′s back when they really knew how to make movies.

I think same goes for why people download music instead of buying CDs. Years ago when you bought an album every cut was good. Nowadays you’re lucky if you have 3 good cuts on a CD today, so why bother wasting money buying one?  Just download the songs you like, forget the rest and save yourself some money. No wonder Rhianna’s and Mariah Carey’s latest CDs flopped, but Susan Boyle’s album became the biggest selling album by an female artist in years. Laugh at her all you want and call her squarer than sqaure, but a lot of people love those old standards well sung.

But that also goes to why I buy and collect DVDs (not to mention my larger collection of CDs and lately I’ve now been buying LPs again). I can’t rent a film from Netflix, have it arrive in the mail and just send it back or watch a film on a computer. Doing that to me is to treat and regard movies as an ephemeral, transient, unimportant thing that just comes and goes in your life with no effect. They definitely aren’t to me. I LOVE MOVIES. They are my life. I still remember the very first film I ever saw  which was  The Vikings with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis (and yes I have that in my collection too) to the one I saw yesterday which was Edge of Darkness.  (And while we’re at let me give all praise to Turner Classic Movies Channel. I don’t remember how I lived before without it) I respect films too much and all that they mean to me to treat them as just something I get in the mail and drop off in a mailbox. For me a life without films is not living at all.

And I’ll be honest,  I love the cases DVDs come in. Nothing thrills me than to see my collection lined up on the wall like a prized possession, which they are to me. I have friends who have even bigger collections than mine that strike me with awe. One friend with an incredible collection has multiple copies of several films inclusing three different versions  of both Hostel and Hostel 2 some even signed by the director Eli Roth. Now THAT’S a collector!

So I’ll go on buying and collecting my DVDs. And In case you’re wondering,…yes I always have a bunch I haven’t had a chance yet to watch. I will eventually, but in the meantime it’s nice to know that they’re there.

7 comments to Why I collect DVDs

  • Nikki

    Well, I watch movies on my laptop, but I usually have the DVD and pop it in. I know plenty of people who download films illegally, but if they really like it they’ll buy it. I really don’t have the cash to buy DVD’s very often. I only buy 5 or 6 a year, so I definitely have to watch the film twice before I decide to buy it. On the other hand, I love books and I buy them very often.

    Here’s an Interview movieline did with Anthony Mackie, he talks about Night Catches Us, The Hurt Locker (Why Kathryn Bigelow will win best director) and his upcoming projects including Bolden.
    http://www.movieline.com/2010/01/anthony-mackie-the-sundance-interview.php?page=1

  • I’m really committed to doing both. Here in Slovenia we don’t have conventional video stores and the version of Netflix someone just started is just getting off the ground with like 100 films or something. So I do download and watch a lot of movies, because some films just don’t make here or come through too quickly.

    That said, I am still committed to buying DVDs. If I find a film I do like or if there is something I really want to see and can’t find too download, I just buy it. I bought Premium and Brother to Brother from Amazon (had a friend bring it to me from the states) for that reason. The other reason I want to buy more DVDs is because I remember how important those cabinets full of black movies on VHS was to me as a child, my cousins amd I wore out movies like Coming to America, Lean On Me, and Lady Sings the Blues. We knew them word for word and took their messages to heart. For me, living on the edge of the Balkans, it is even more important to seek the important films out, so the next generation can grab the disc, look at the cover (not a file name!!), and give those old gems a try.

  • Agreed! I’m a film purist: meaning I like to watch films in their correct theatrical aspect ratio (generally 1.85: 1 or 2.35:1) and on a decent sized screen (I have a 34″ Sony HDTV with up to 1080i capability).

    I don’t understand the notion of wanting to walk around with smartphones or even netbooks/laptops and watching films on those tiny screens. Films to me are about being in the experience and a small 3.5″ or 10″ screen don’t cut it.

    I just upgraded several months ago from a regular DVD player to an Oppo Blu-ray disc player. I, too, like the sense of ownership and having my DVD/Blu-ray cases lined up; that and (again) watching films at a certain large size.

  • Great article, you raise some good points. I love movies too but Netflix isn’t the enemy. When you hook your computer up to a big screen TV, it’s fun! The instant watch feature is like having a Blockbuster in your house. I can watch French New Wave, Bollywood and a cheesy rom-com all in the same day.

    Blu-rays make regular DVDs seem lame and it’s just a matter of time before a new technology comes along to replace (or remix) them all.

    My love is for the art of filmmaking, I’ll always want to collect and watch as may great movies as possible. The feeling I get from viewing amazing stories isn’t tied to the technology of the moment.

  • I should have added in my post that I buy the digital files of the movies I own, instead of the physical dvds. The digital files are essentially the format films exist in before they go to dvd. So with the digital file, you CAN burn it unto a dvd as well if you prefer it in that format. Or you store the files on a hard drive which allows you to watch them in a myriad of ways – whether on a TV screen, projected, on your laptop, or most importantly, it makes them easily portable and transferable. I can carry around 100 movies on a tiny drive, wherever I’m going, and then watch them however I want to; you can’t do that with dvds.

    This is where we’re headed. Just as physical stores are quickly disappearing, phyiscal media is going the same way. It’s only a matter of time before dvds disappear. Even bluray hasn’t quite captured consumer attention. Eventually even those films from cinema’s early days will all be in digital format. Many of them already are.

    Maybe it’s partly a generational thing. However, I also love cinema… as content… and I love being able to experience it in a variety of formats and environments. I’m not necessairly married to the idea that film has to be viewed in specific surroundings or media.

    But I wanted to at least make sure folks know that films exist in digital format before they go to dvd. As it is, we’ve just been given the option to purchase them in that digital form, which then allows us to do with them as we please, whether it’s transfer them to dvd, or keep them in digital form, which is what I do.

    I guess it’s also just individual preference.

  • Digital format is the way things will be going.
    Once President Obama makes broadband in homes
    a national priority, as part of giving Americans equal
    footing in education and jobs, then more and more
    people will turn to watching films and tv on their
    laptops and mobile devices, like the new iPad.

    I have well over 4000 movies in my collection, and for
    the last 7 years have been converting them to
    digital format. I’m only a little over 1/3rd done,
    and I agree with Tambay…having a hard drive
    that is 500GB has all my favorite movies made the difference
    for me, and actually recovered a Bedroom that was once lined with
    Bookshelves like the picture above, to now only two shelves,
    where I store my HDs with my movies on them in. LOL!
    My wife can’t believe it! I love movies, not the format
    they’re delivered in, so whether its dvds, vhs, iPod, or
    laptop w/HD, I enjoy a good movie still!

  • Great post. I do both as well. There is a tactile joy of opening a new DVD, uncovering the wrapper like its Christmas morning and popping in the disc and waiting for those stupid mandatory screens to go by and then selecting if you want to whether you’re going to watch the behind-the-scenes features this time, listen to the commentary or just straight up watch the film.

    Yet, I have to co-sign on Netflix. I’ve watched a lot of classics from them over the past 6 years, things you’re not always readily able to find on Amazon or even in stores here in NYC that practically don’t exist anymore. It’s good for films that some people say are mediocre, but for certain aspects of filmmaking – cinematography, editing, etc – you still want to check it out.
    And it’s hard to wait for something to air on TCM, though I’ve watched a lot of westerns I never thought I would there and have become a true fan of the genre.

    And while I’ll never watch a whole movie on my phone – heck I’m already blind enough – I agree with Tambay on, “I love being able to experience it in a variety of formats and environments. I’m not necessarily married to the idea that film has to be viewed in specific surroundings or media.” That’s real talk.