I stumbled across this interesting Youtube Blu-Ray/DVD discussion collaboration between Youtube channels FILMS AT HOME and CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT.
The topic was simple enough, basically… ‘what 5 films need a Blu-Ray Release?’.
They had interesting choices. You can see links to their videos below, but it made me consider what films would I like to see get a quality Criterion or Arrow or Shout factory or indicator level Blu-Ray release.
Without further ado here they are:
Everyone knows Jeff Goldblum is a great actor, and most would point to his work in David Cronenberg’s justly acclaimed THE FLY remake as one of his stellar films, as well as one of the better Blu-ray releases of last year. However one of Goldblum’s best films has never had a Blu-ray release, the absolutely ahead of its time, done back in the 80s, and wholly unsettling and effective… MR. FROST. Go in blind, knowing nothing, and the film will reward you. Would love a commentary and special features rich release for this film.
2.Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset
I have quite a few boxsets. Have recently picked up the Powerhouse Indicator HAMMER Boxsets. Definite gems. Managed to just snag the BFI’s PIONEERS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA boxset before that went out of print.
Okay, so with that lead in, I am going to cheat with this second one and make it a boxset. One boxset I would love to see on Blu-ray (heck I would love to even see it on DVD) is the Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset, consisting of a loose 4 part filmic parables on Colonialism and resistance. The first feature EMITAI, is 1 hour 43 minutes and was released in 1971, and takes place during World War II.
The 2nd feature film in this quadrology is 1977’s CEDDO (120mins) and takes place around the late 15th, early 16th century.
The 3rd film, the only one to receive a DVD release (now LONG out of print) is the longest of the four, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and comes a whole ten years later in 1988’s CAMP DE THIAROYE, and this film returns to the theater of World War II to tell its tale. This film is absolutely riveting, with a haunting wailing score to accompany this tale of calamitous decisions and barriers of language, of nationality, of prejudice, of mores, and wars fought on too many fronts.
You just feel the tension ratcheting up from scene to scene, never knowing where it is going, and whether it is prelude to calm or chaos. But there are also moments of lightness here, and easy languid touch to the film-making. It is a long film, around the 80 minute mark, it is like the whole film takes a downtime with the soldiers, a languid time of reflection, but it works, and is needed that intermission of sorts, and 10 minutes later you begin to know why. Calm, before a storm.
A masterpiece by a filmmaker who pulled these films together in a time when every foot of film, cost a fortune. It’s not like today when every ‘want to be’ filmmaker can grab a digital camera and put something up on youtube. In the age of film, particularly in a continent beset by the still caustic and crippling effects of colonialism, apartheid, civil war and corporate and international malfeasance… CAMP DE THIAROYE is a film made in blood and sacrifice.
It is a compelling film about injustice and tragedy, and the search for identity, separate from the imposed identity of the colonizing forces. And it is a film about the thanks of an ungrateful nation. And staggering corrupt decsions on one side, breeding horrendous bad decisions on the other, snaking its way to an ending that seems both inevitable, and totally avoidable. This should be talked about in the same breath as the best and most incisive of world cinema, up there with films such as ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS and RASHOMON and THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. The fact that this great film, 32 years later still has not received a wonderful feature packed CRITERION or ARROW release, is a small injustice and tragedy of its own.
p.s. If you do get the sold out DVD, the Danny Glover interview on it is simply essential viewing.
And finally in 1992, a present day commentary on the long shadow of colonialism and religious factionism, GUELWAAR (1 hour 55 minutes) is Sembene Ousmane’s last film in this loose daring quadrology and comment on colonialism. Whereas his more innocuous films, that could not be perceived as overtly anti-colonial, are available, arguably his most provocative and compelling works have remained, throughout his life, and now even after his death, steadfastly and ‘un-officially’ banned.