If we believe everything on the Internet then soon we’ll be downloading all our films and TV shows directly onto our hard drives before beaming them directly into our brain (or something along those lines). This is something of a shame as DVD manufacturers have often been extremely forward thinking in releasing quirky, beautiful and innovative Collectors Editions (or Special Editions, Limited Editions or countless other descriptions) that are as much works of art as the movies/TV shows they contain. Much like album box sets, the specially designed packages appeal to fans who want more of memento than a jewel case and four page booklet and are designed to come with a myriad of books, props and other items that – hopefully – complement the film beautifully.
To celebrate the release of Inception as a Limited Edition Briefcase, here are some of the best DVD Collector’s Editions of all time. And note – this is not necessarily about the quality of the films on the DVD’s themselves. This is more about the care and love put into the actual packaging making the buyer think 'I must have that on my shelf' with extra points given for well thought out extras and just how closely the packaging links in with the movie. Also note that these are DVDs from all over the world so you may have to do a bit of scouring the Internet if you decide you just can’t live without some of the ones mentioned below.
So, in no particular order, some of the best DVD Collector’s Editions are...
Inception Limited Edition Briefcase
DVDs in briefcases are nothing new with Blade Runner, the James Bond films and even the complete series of The Man from UNCLE all becoming available in a shiny metal case. But Inception wins out as the briefcase motif is closely related to the movie (it even comes with a “PASIV Device User Manual” so you can pretend you’re in the film) and also comes with the spinning top used in the movie by Leo DiCaprio to determine whether he’s still in the real world (mine is still spinning. Should I be worried?). The sleek and stylish packaging reflects one of the best blockbuster movies of the past few years.
House of Flying Daggers Limited Wooden Box Edition
The Far East have always had a thing for ephemera and cool collector’s items and, if I’d really wanted, I could have just filled this article with some gorgeous sets from the region. But the House of Flying Daggers set from China just about takes the crown with a craftsmanship that is as beautiful as the fighting choreography in the film itself. Within the velvet lined box you get the film and extras across four discs, an illustrated book and – most impressive of all – an actual commemorative dagger.
The Big Lebowski 10th Anniversary Edition
The Coen Brothers have always eschewed extras and fancy packaging (the supposed commentary from Forever Films ‘Kenneth Loring’ on the Blood Simple DVD is actually an actor reading a script written by the director siblings) so this edition of – arguably – their most popular film is something of a delight. Shaped like a bowling ball, it splits apart to reveal the film and extras (all genuine) on two discs. It looks gorgeous on the shelf and – frankly – should really help to tie the room together.
Lost The Complete Series
Sometimes a good DVD Box Set will use its packaging to enhance the experience and the complete series of Lost does this with aplomb. Aside from the entire series of the show, and lots of extras, it comes with the game of Senet (played by Jacob during the show), an ankh and a backlight which allows you to find hidden clues on the packaging. In a time when most people are prepared to shove their shows into a bunch of cardboard, you have to admire the extra lengths that the makers of Lost have gone to extend the aura of their franchise.
This is a slight cheat as its musical and comes with 3 CD’s of rare tracks from the classic rock band. But, as it also contains 2 DVDs (alongside memorabilia and a 174 page book), I’m going to include it because – in a genius move – the entire kit and caboodle comes contained with an actual working Amp. Designed to look like a vintage AC/DC Amp from the 70s, you can plug in and play along to your heart’s content. A brilliant blend of form, function and entertainment.
Comedy shows don’t often bother with fancy packaging so this – the American version of the hit comedy show – is something of a delight. Looking like a product from Dunder Mifflin (the stationary company at the heart of the show which, in a testament to the devotion of the show’s creators, has its own website. It’s a simple idea that fits in with the show perfectly.
Prisoner Cell Block: H The Complete DVD Collection
This is more of a case of quantity over quality but one has to admire the tenacity of the fans who undertook a massive campaign to get this monster released. Purported to be the biggest DVD box set of all time it contains all 692 episodes of the Aussie prison drama on 172 discs across 40 volumes. In an age when people enjoy spending their time ploughing through TV box sets on cold winter’s night, this one would get you through to spring.
The Criterion Collection
This is a bit of a cheat, but it’s hard to choose one Criterion DVD over the other as the company have become a watchword for quality for cinema fans from across the world. With newly designed artwork, restored versions of the films and specially written essays from film scholars and experts these DVDs preserve cinema history and provide a breath of new life into some old classics. Also, they’re prepared to preserve at the best of modern cinema so the likes of The Rock and Robocop nestle nicely alongside The Third Man and 8 ½. You can find out more (and most likely make a dent in your credit card) at www.criterion.com.
Metropolis Special Edition
There are lots of ‘steelbook’ DVD editions but this relatively simple packaging seems particularly appropriate to Metropolis, one of the most influential sci-fi films of all time. The art deco artwork on the golden metallic box celebrates the fact that the footage from the film that was thought to be lost has recently been re-discovered and restored. Again, it’s relatively simple, but it works perfectly for such an important part of cinema history.
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