Physical Vs Stream: The Battle of the Formats
It’s no surprise to anybody that DVD & Blu-Ray are very much out of fashion (think of them as the Orlando Bloom of home movie formats). Only a few years ago the very thought of this would have been completely Xenomorph to the majority of film lovers worldwide, however, here we are in a world in which HMV etc. are becoming dangerously close to going the way of that Superman flick with Nicolas Cage and what a sad state of affairs that is.
I love DVDs. Having a physical format of a film is just tops. I do see the many positives of streaming services and I am a subscriber to two of the big hitters. Their advantages are many, yet the ability to actually hold the product in your hands, flick through the booklet, participate in the ritual of placing the disc in the player and of course, the wondrous invention that is special features, will always make it the superior viewing method.
Of course not all box sets are worth specifically buying for the fact that they’re packaged in an alluring box. I have fallen for that trap many a time by purchasing films which are merely the individual DVDs, only they have been slid into a micro sheet of cardboard. What’s that about!? And why do I still want it so badly!?
When box sets are done well, they’re truly a thing of beauty. Take for example the releases of each Lord of the Rings extended edition. Not only were they presented in a wonderful VHS sized box which folded out revealing beautiful artwork and an individual section for each of the four discs, but the content was also unbelievable. A minimum of thirty minutes additional footage intelligently inserted into each film, complete with added score segments from maestro Howard Shore (making this so much more than merely sticking in a series of deleted scenes), a great booklet containing maps/information about the geography of Middle Earth and of course arguably the finest collection of special features and behind the scenes footage ever. That is a box set. There was also the super edition which could be purchased which includes statuettes associated with each of the three films.
One of the first bundles of joy I purchased was the wonderful Hitchcock collection which included fourteen of his greatest films. I remember buying this for a cool £130, which back in the early naughties was a bargain at “less than a tenner a film”. It kills me inside to now see this in HMV available for the simple exchange of the Queen’s face on one piece of purple paper. Equally my most recent boxed purchase is the magnificent Woody Allen collection. Twenty films spanning the prolific auteur’s career which includes numerous big hitters such as Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) but also includes some hidden gems both old and new such as Bananas (1971) and Melinda and Melinda (2004).
Some of the finest box sets I own are from renowned franchises including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and Indiana Jones but nothing could ever and will ever compare to the tremendously ghastly but absolutely sublime Alien collection which is housed within the head of the infamous creature.
Box sets are what keeps film buffs, geeks and nerds aglow throughout the course of their everyday lives. The added attraction of these filmic delicacies are something which streaming services will never truly be able to match. Perhaps in the future when the physical format has disappeared, there will be an underground uprising from fans who still long for the good old days of when queueing up to buy a new release was truly what cinephile dreams were made of. I certainly know that I’ll be one of those people. I am the vinyl fan of today’s filmic equivalent of the future.
What are some of your favourite box sets, or do you find them a pointless entity? Let us know via Twitter & facebook.