50 Years, 50 Films One Spectacular DVD Box Set Janus Films opened American viewers? eyes to the pleasures of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut at the height of their artistic powers. Celebrate the fi... more »ftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors? box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD and a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a tribute from Martin Scorsese, and notes on each of the fifty films.? Eight Academy Awards ? Twenty-eight Academy Award nominations? Two Palme d?or awards« less
"This is certainly the most remarkable collection of films to come out in one DVD package. And I would really like to thank Criterion for overpricing their DVDs so much that I had very little overlap with my existing library, having passed on most of their editions of these films. Here are a few observations that might be of use to potential buyers: 1) the widescreen movies are anamorphic 2) Haxen is 104 min, substantially longer than the 77 min version that has shown on premium cable. 3) I compared the Janus versions of two films, Wages of Fear and Seven Samurai, with the Criterion versions I had. I expected them to be identical (figuring that Criterion probably did the work for Janus) but they were considerably different. In both cases, the Janus copies were amazingly superior: much better (and louder)sound, crisper images with fewer defects, much better definition in shadowy areas, and a much more stable image. I never realized how poor the Criterion prints were until I saw the comparison. It's amazing the psychological effect of all that. In both cases, I was strongly tempted to continue watching the whole film with Janus, and found the Criterion copy 'tiring'. The translations also differed, with Janus having fewer errors (e.g. Samurai's "the rice we're eating now" v.s. "the rice we're eating, how"). I cannot wait to watch the rest of these films. 3. I could detect no difference between Anchor Bay's and Janus's Kind Hearts and Coronets. 4. The print of Lady Vanishes is the clearest I've seen. The el cheapo Brentwood print, in their Hitchcock collection, is unwatchable. 5. The one really bad aspect of the collection is that the DVDs are wedged tightly into paper slots. Every single disc was covered with tiny flecks of paper, and every disc was scratched, sometimes quite badly (but not enough to affect playback, I think). Whether this occurred putting the disc in, or taking it out, I can't say. However, repeating this process would rapidly damage the surface. I put all the discs into individual cases, and I STRONGLY recommend doing so. Some of the discs felt like they were glued to the page, the packaging was so tight. If you are a real fanatic about surface defects, and don't plan on reselling the set, you might even want to use a razor to cut the paper and LIFT the disc out. Whatever you do, don't rotate the disc as you try to unstick it or you may get a spiralling defect. Despite that caveat, this is an incredible bargain - less than $12 per film instead of $30 for Criterion's. That makes those commentaries pretty bloody expensive. One can only hope Janus will put out another 50 movies (hopefully in individual cases, though). "
This is put out by Criterion
Criterion Collector | CT USA | 11/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Re: The previous reviewer's points: The product info is somewhat vague on this, but this set is put out by Criterion. As the comment on that review says, any differences vs. earlier Criterion releases are attributable to upgrades made in later editions. Seven Samurai and M have been upgraded since their original Criterion release, and there may be other cases among the films collected here. On another point, it's true that individual Criterion releases are expensive, but they usually include many extras of interest to cinephiles. If price is your main consideration, this package is a great way to get Criterion quality at a lower price per disc (although without the extras). I will be ordering one at some point, even though I already have about a dozen of the films, just because it looks to be a gorgeous package. FYI, there is a review in the NY Times today (11/7/2006) that provides some historical background on Janus and Criterion. "
Special Features and Scratches
BkEuRrGaMsAaNwa | USA | 02/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to notify everyone who got scared about this set when they heard the dvds came in outrageoulsy tight slots that either this has been changed, it never was true, or i have an exeptionally awsome set because mine is not that way at all. In my set every page of the DVD book has 4 dvds that are in slots that are not too tight or loose. You do not have to induvidually unwrap the dvds or anything, just open up the book, and pull a dvd out. I have been pulling these discs out and putting back in and have seen absolutely no damage done. Not one of the movies has skipped yet. I have seen no "flecks of paper" and none of my DVDs "felt like they were glued to the page" like -a movie fan's-. I strongly suggest everyone with a film appretiation to buy this set, even if you already have a few from the set. It is definatally worth it. And about the special features, I would like to inform anyone turned off by the fact that there are none that there is a 200 page book that comes with the set. That book has rare posters, photographs, the history of revolutionary JANUS and a page description of every film - the context of time and place the film came out, a little about the director and actors, the impact the film had, the meaning behind the film, etc. If that is not enough for you, then...sorry. I personally dont mind, considering the internet exists for any other information about the film I want to know."
No Complaints Here
AER | USA | 01/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though some people seem concerned about scratching their discs, and seem surprised there's no extra content -- even though no extras were ever advertised or announced -- to me these are minor quibbles at best. This is a beautiful package, a real treasure trove, and indispensable for lovers of international film. I've only watched about ten titles so far, but the transfers are all stellar, and it of course goes with out saying the films are at worst fascinating, at best magnificent. I'm also pleased with the inclusion of some "lesser known" titles -- like, say, Fellini's The White Sheik over a more obvious choice like 8 1/2 -- since this only encourages further exploration and discovery.
Sure, there aren't any extras, but even though I might be in the minority here, I usually have little use for extras, even from a top notch company like Janus/Criterion. The films are what counts, and they're done full justice here, at a great average price per disc as well. And for those of you worried about scratches: remember, a DVD isn't like a record made of vinyl that comes in physical contact with a needle. Of course, you want to take as much care as possible with a DVD, but having these DVDs come in contact with the cardboard surface they're stored in is not going to pose any huge risk of damage. I haven't noticed any skips or playbacks problems at all thus far."
A fine set, but with a few quirks. Honesty is the best polic
B. Pytlinski | Denver, CO United States | 12/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD video and audio presentation is excellent. I can live without the commentaries and special features but did they have to omit them, really? Fine, one star.
The book is very nice, one star.
The price is great, one star.
The case is nice on display, but the DVD packaging is tight and can scratch the DVDs, I'm not happy but I can deal, half a star. I will try to be gentle anyway with a set this valuable, so hopefully there won't be too many scratches I have deal with.
Selection of films, half a star bringing us to four total. I disagree with Janus' choice to split the Criterion box sets, especially the ones that are out of print or where individual titles are unavailable. The collector who owns the Criterion WRONG MEN, NOTORIOUS WOMEN box and the ESSENTIAL JANUS set now has two copies of THE 39 STEPS and THE LADY VANISHES. Even worse are selections such as ASHES AND DIAMONDS, which comes in the Criterion ANDRZEJ WAJDA: THREE WAR FILMS box set where the other titles in the box, A GENERATION and KANAL aren't available from Janus individually. The Criterion Box SERGEI EISENSTEIN: THE SOUND YEARS has been broken up as well, with ALEXANDER NEVSKY and IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART II included in the ESSENTIAL JANUS set with no decent copy of IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART I on DVD individually available anywhere. I could go on... In my opinion, this set should have been an official numbered Criterion release. There are many excellent films in the Criterion library which are available individual releases that could have easily been in this set. My two cents, BOB THE GAMBLER, CHILDREN OF PARADISE, NANOOK OF THE NORTH, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, RIFIFI, THE BLOB, THE LADY EVE, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, etc.
I don't disagree with the choice of films based on the value of the films. The ESSENTIAL ART HOUSE - 50 YEARS OF JANUS FILMS DVD set is a fine collector's item and a welcome addition to my DVD shelf. I would highly recommend this set to anyone, not only for it's valuable content, but as it is sure to be the most sought after DVD set for film aficionado's for years to come."