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The Criterion Collection

| April 15, 2010 | Comments (3)

High and Low

I came across the Criterion Collection DVD cover of Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low this week and was reminded of just how great the covers in the collection are.

Most DVD covers are adapted from a film’s one-sheet poster and often the result is less than groundbreaking. This is for a good reason. The one-sheet has a different set of objectives to meet than a DVD cover. Because we walk by them outside the movie theater or down a hall as we are entering or leaving a movie, they need to have a quick graphic impact. Often, the priority is to advertise familiar cast members rather than the movie’s themes. This may work well in the theaters, but when converted to DVD size, the result, while often fine, rarely inspires.

This is where the Criterion Collection comes in. The Criterion Collection is “A continuing series of important classic and contemporary films on home video.  Criterion works closely with filmmakers and scholars to ensure that each film is presented as its maker would want it seen and published in an edition that will deepen the viewer’s understanding and appreciation of the art of cinema.” When Criterion publishes a new edition of a film, they pay as much attention to the packaging as they do the discs themselves.

Free from the multiple credits and DVD special features often required on traditional DVD cover art, the only requirements on the Criterion Collection DVDs are the film’s title and director. The resulting freedom leads to incredibly striking covers that have more in common with book jackets than they do with traditional DVD box art. The imagery and typography is often striking, heavy with metaphor, and always reflective of each film’s unique virtues. Below is a collection of some of my favorites that I was able to find online:

More covers after the jump…

3 Responses to “The Criterion Collection”
  1. avatar britt says:

    Do you know who designed the posters? Do they have a studio? Is it a coincidence that these beautifully designed posters happen to be for some of the most beautifully shot and directed movies? Hmmm….

  2. avatar Josh Froscheiser says:

    These are actually not posters, they are the DVD cases. I’ve been able to find one designer who has done a number of DVD packages for Criterion, Eric Skillman. Here is his website: http://www.ericskillman.com
    I don’t think there is any coincidence that the Criterion DVDs are beautifully designed, the source material for each is already highly curated so the designers are starting with incredible raw materials. That, and Criterion’s whole purpose is celebrating those films and creating the optimum format for appreciating them.

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