From the Criterion Collection Newsletter
NEWSLETTER – MAY 3, 2020
Director Edgar Wright has been spending lockdown catching up on a ton of movies, both on disc and on the Criterion Channel. He wanted to share some of his favorite discoveries with the Criterion community, so we’re passing on this letter he wrote us recently, which we hope will give you some ideas for things to watch!
Dear Criterion Cronies,
For a few years now, I’ve gazed lovingly at the stockpile of Criterion DVDs and Blu-rays that I own and the long list of films that I’ve been meaning to see whenever I have the opportunity. Shamefully, I’ve even fantasised about having some short respite from my work and life, perhaps a non-life-threatening injury or illness that meant I could just stay home for a little while and dig into this pyramid of cinematic splendour. Well, I would like to apologise. I don’t think that this global crisis is a result of my selfish wish, but if COVID-19 is some kind of Monkey’s Paw curse that I unwillingly triggered, then I am eternally sorry.
The only bright side to this very strange time in which we, as a planet, have to stay home is there’s now a chance to explore the wonders of the Criterion Collection, through the discs and the Channel. And what better way to escape—nay, travel—than cinema. Even though I have been holed up, I have managed to do a significant amount of globetrotting through the screen. In Sweden, I’ve been on the existential odysseys of Ingmar Bergman (Shame, Summer with Monika, Scenes from a Marriage, Cries and Whispers, Autumn Sonata), then I went to France with the hard lessons of Robert Bresson (Au hazard Balthazar, L’argent) and Jean-Pierre Melville (La silence de la mer) and also bathed in the opulence of Max Ophuls (The Earrings of Madame de . . .). I’ve journeyed to Japan with the masterful Yasujiro Ozu (Late Spring), Kenji Mizoguchi (Sansho the Bailiff, Ugetsu) and Akira Kurosawa (High and Low); I’ve visited Abbas Kiarostami’s Iran (Close-up, The Koker Trilogy); I’ve rejoiced in the glory of Italian cinema with Vittorio De Sica (Umberto D.), Roberto Rossellini (Rome Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero), and Dino Risi (Il sorpasso). I’ve been through space and time with Chris Marker (La Jetée, Sans Soleil), have been literally right in the Zone with Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker), and have taken the Shanghai Express and been to Morocco with Josef von Sternberg. I’ve also taken some solace in seeing how my fellow countrymen dealt with previous crises with David Lean (This Happy Breed) and Powell & Pressburger’s wartime films (The Small Back Room, 49th Parallel). Not to mention the birthday I spent in lockdown with some top-grade Hong Kong action courtesy of my teenage idol, Mr. Jackie Chan (Police Story).
So while I have not actually risen from my sofa, I feel like I’ve covered a lot of ground in this last month. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for Criterion, and we should count ourselves lucky that they care as much as they do about cinema and the preservation of these films. I’ll now leave to continue doing my part in saving the world: by watching a lot of films. I never imagined that this would be my secret superpower. Stay safe out there.