I wanted to update the post I released last year for a couple of reasons. I recently released some videos on IGTV and You Tube about films I’d take into quarantine (working through the alphabet). There is a high proportion of DVD’s in those lists. The reasons are very well explained in this original article therefore I wanted to push this up to the fore on the blog so people could see it.
It is also very interesting that in the current climate streaming services are getting a lot of business. I read an article the other day about Disney+ blurring or removing a fraction of a second shot of Daryl Hannah’s Bottom in the film Splash. This scene was so quick that I’m pretty sure no one even knew it was there. It also did not stop the film getting a PG rating on it’s original release. Overall it doesn’t affect the film but it is in my opinion changing the Historical record of the film. I have no problem with there being different cuts of films out there but I do think that the original cut of the films should always be available. Sadly with some films it is difficult to find the original versions but in a link to this article a lot do exist on DVD. I shall leave this here and let you delve into the original article which I hope you enjoy and find informative.
Originally Published November 2019
Why Collect DVDs in 2019?
I keep hearing about the Death of physical media, reading this site you’ll find I’m a huge fan of it, be it Blu-ray/DVDs, VHS, Books, comics CDs and vinyl. In fact if I can touch it I normally like it, to me it’s not about some nostalgia based love (though I’d be lying if I said I had no nostalgia) it about control and access to media I want to watch , listen or read.
It was reported in 2017 streaming and downloads had overtaken the sales of physical films, it was going to happen at one point so it is unsurprising. There is though still a big market out there for those of us that remain in the market for physical media, this is unlikely to go anywhere soon despite the rise of streaming and digital downloads. I’m not against streaming or downloads, I use services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, however I see them as a complimentary service rather than my main source of viewing films. A word I use a lot is ‘Access’ I’m for the access to media and being able to watch, read, listen to it in the version you want when you want. The rise of labels such as Arrow, 101 films, Eureka and of course the Criterion collection show there are a lot of people willing to search out titles and extras that either streaming can’t or wont supply. On occasion you will get extras on streaming services, Disney Life for example provide them and I have seen Amazon sometimes provide them on specific titles. This however is sporadic at best and not the norm.
I have seen the death of the DVD format prematurely announced numerous times since Blu-ray became the go to format. In October 2018 it was widely reported that John Lewis (A major U.K. Department store) was to stop selling DVD players due to lack of demand. The press had a high old time telling everyone that this was showing that DVD as a format was dead. They seemed to miss the obvious point that John Lewis were still selling Blu-ray players that all will Play and upscale DVD as standard.
As of the end of 2018 DVD still took account of around 60% of the home Video Market with Blu-ray around 35% and UHD taking up the rest. I’m under no illusion physical media is declining but for the foreseeable future there will be a market. I’m old enough to Remember when everyone said Vinyl was dead and we all know what happened then.
I am rarely an early adopter of technology, so I didn’t start with DVD until 2002 (4 years after its release in the U.K market). I even remember the first DVD I bought, I had recently bought an X-Box and due to its ability to play DVDs I also picked up a copy of the very entertaining ‘A Knights Tale’ (2001).
Onto the main point of the post why collect DVDs in 2019?
1/ Price – DVDs are far cheaper than Blu-rays even newly released ones. I personally don’t buy new releases on DVD, unless for a specific reason such as its not available on Blu-ray. A lot of people still do buy them though and they are frequently reduced in price very quickly after release. If you’re not worried about Extras (which a lot of modern films unfortunately only now put on Blu-ray) it’s a great budget way to pick up films.
2/ Picture Quality – Stay with me on this one, as someone who still watches and collects certain VHS tapes DVD was a huge leap in quality VHS isn’t/wasn’t as bad as some people will make you think. but that’s a discussion for another post. So back to DVD, the quality even on an older player with a SCART or component connection is good, but on modern DVD or Blu-ray players with and HDMI connection and up-scaling the image quality (depending on transfer) on a lot of titles is not much below that of Blu-ray.
3/ Extras and Film cuts – As I mentioned above a lot of modern DVDs do not have extras, that however is not the only issue with extras. When a film is transferred to Blu-ray some of the additional material is frequently dropped in favour of new extras. The Blu-ray of Star Trek II the wrath of Khan is missing a bunch of interviews that are on the 2002 DVD release (which is why I have both versions). Another example is the original DVD release of the Star Wars original trilogy contains the fantastic documentary ‘Empire of Dreams’ this however does not appear on later releases or the Blu-ray’s.
Now onto film cuts, some films are re-edited and have material taken away or even put in when they come to Blu-ray. So other versions of the films may be only available on DVD. The Directors Edition of Star Trek the motion Picture for example was last released (as of 2019) on the 2002 DVD release. So if you want to see that version you need the DVD.
4/ Blu-rays are not always the best or most accurate copies – Some Blu-rays can be poor transfers (N.B. Film grain is not sign of a poor transfer the opposite in fact). Also, the colour grading/timing can be badly done, this can be an issue on some older films when the grading can be totally off. In some transfers it seems that they just want to make the colours as bright and high contrast without referencing the original print and how the Director wanted it to be seen. There is also the case when the Director wants to change something, the colour grading on the original DVDs of The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been changed on the Blu-ray transfer (specifically the ring wraith scenes) I personally prefer the original. There are however some fantastic transfers to Blu-ray where someone has taken the time and care needed but don’t always assume just because it’s Blu-ray that its the most faithful copy of the original. If however you are fine with these changes just enjoy the film.
5/ The Second-hand Market – This is in my opinion the exciting part of DVDs. In Charity shops, off Facebook Market place and from companies like Music Magpie you can pick older DVDs up at low prices. It’s not just basic ones either the older DVDs normally have the extras that are missing on some modern ones. I’ve also picked up gorgeous collector’s editions in perfect condition, for example I recently picked up a Special Edition of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ from around 2002 in perfect condition with all the extra booklets and information for 50 pence. Also DVD steelbooks (yes they do exist) you can get some beautiful ones for the price of half a cup of coffee. It does sadden that such things have lost so much in value but I’m glad I have it. If I eventually get the Blu-ray versions, I would keep this collector’s edition. There are so many things like this just waiting to be picked up. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up DVDs released 10 or 15 years ago for pence still factory sealed.
6/ Menu’s – Just a small one this but it is a thing that bugs me. When I first started buying Blu-ray’s I was shocked about how many just had incredibly basic menus with standard icons. It felt like no one cared about what they were producing. I have always found in general though DVD menus to look like someone has spent some time and thought on them.
7/ Packaging – I find a lot of Blu-ray packaging especially for the collector’s editions dull and not very creative. The standard seems to be chuck it in a Steelbook and that’ll do. There can be some nice Steelbook’s, however you do not get some of the creative and bonkers packaging you used to get on DVD. One of my favourites is I own versions of the 1980s Twilight Zone TV series it is one of the most over packaged items I have ever seem. It consists of a thick Card outer that you must carefully open to reveal a specially designed Digi-pak, totally over the top but lovely and looks great on the shelf.
8/ Open your Mind – There is also a thing about missing out I frequently see Film fans who will only watch and collect films on Blu-ray or 4k. It’s almost a kind of snobbery, they however are missing out on a huge library films that will never or it is very unlikely to get a Blu-ray release. If you will only watch films Blu-ray or 4k you will miss out on some classic and fantastic films.
Reading this you may think that I don’t like Blu-ray’s that however couldn’t be further from to truth. I think it’s a great medium and the picture and sound quality are fantastic. Reading above you will understand my main reasons for still purchasing DVD’s. In addition not to sound too pretentious I believe we are almost archivists of the past and have a responsibility to make sure that all these DVDs, especially the Special editions and Cut/features not available elsewhere, aren’t lost to landfill forever.
Spira, Jon. (2018) ‘The Death of DVD will Haunt Us.’ Huffpost.
Sweney, Mark. (2017) ‘Film and TV Streaming and Downloads overtake DVD sales for the first time’. The Guardian.com.
Cuthbertson, Anthony. (2018) ‘Death of the DVD? John Lewis Kills off Players as people turn to Streaming sites like Netflix,’ The Independent.