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DVD Collecting – An Old Habit I Kicked

DVD Collecting – An Old Habit I Kicked

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Sometimes you have to wonder about why people collect DVDs or Blu-rays. Collectors proudly display their stockpile on a shelf, and truth be told, most of the time, these movies are simply used as decor. Whenever I visit someone’s house or apartment for the first time, the first thing that grabs my attention is their movie collection. A selection of DVD’s and Blu-rays really do indicate someone’s tastes, interests and hint at certain aspects of their personality. But people spend thousands of dollars purchasing movies they’ve most likely already seen, and the bigger the collection, the more likely you’ll find movies they still haven’t had a chance to watch. Often someone will stumble upon a DVD and Blu-ray, and buy it on impulse; perhaps the DVD cover stood out, or maybe they’ve just always wanted to watch the movie but never had a chance. And so they feel that by buying the DVD, they’ll eventually get around to doing so. Only usually, they never do. And for most people, they will never get around to ever watching 95% of their collection more than once in their lifetime. Is one watch worth the purchase? Why not just rent the film instead?

Some people collect for investment, but most collect for pure enjoyment. Sometimes people’s collections range from rare hockey cards worth thousands of dollars to the vinyl records that are extremely rare and hard to find. However, most collections are comprised of things that have little if no value beyond the sentiment for the collector. Sure you can always sell your used DVD’s but you’ll rarely make a profit. Very few films worth seeking out are discontinued, and those that are, can still be found readily available somewhere online. You can spend a few hundred dollars on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or you can wait for Criterion to eventually release a new edition. I myself own the original Criterion DVD, along with two copies of the European release – each of which at one point were valued in the hundreds. I never sold either, and now with the latest Criterion release, the value of these copies has dropped to less than what I originally paid. And even with a collection of high dollar value, it is rare that any collector sells an item to claim the money. Why, then, would someone put so much time and effort into amassing a collection? Some collect to expand their social lives, swap titles, and sometimes bootleg duplicates with like-minded friends – but more often, people collect in an effort to simply remember and relive the past. I own a copy of The Last Star-fighter, a movie I actually hate, simply because it is the first film my brother and I rented at the video store. We use mementos to stimulate fond memories, and most of us collect items to show individualism. When collecting there is also a quest, and in some cases a life-long pursuit that can never be fulfilled. Just when you think you’ve completed your horror collection, you discover a new director whose movies are worth seeking out, and it never ends. And for many, the satisfaction comes from arranging, re-arranging, and categorizing your collection. How often have you spent hours doing this?

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Back when I was working at a video store, I had the luxury of purchasing films at an extremely low cost. Criterion DVD’s would run me about $10, and everything else would cost no more than $5. During those years working at Movieland Video, I accumulated over 1,500 DVD’s and Blu-Rays. I’ve maybe watched only half since. Of course I had my reasons for doing so, and justified the hobby. There was first, those rare gems that were either discontinued, or would soon be. Sure you can purchase the Robocop Blu-ray, which of course has better picture quality, but it won’t come with the Paul Verhoeven commentary track provided on the original Criterion release. And than there was those movies that were simply too hard to find at most video stores – we’re talking Luis Bunuel films that I picked up in Europe, or La Haine and Doberman, which at the time had no North American distribution. But of the one thousand plus movies in my collection, I’d say 90% were purchased because I felt I needed to simply complete a filmmaker’s catalogue or because I got them at such a low cost. Sure it was great to have friends come over and let them pick through my collection before sitting down for a movie night with some pizza and beer, but most of these DVD’s have done nothing but collect dust ever since I brought them home. Eventually I stopped collecting, and I haven’t purchased any DVD’s nor Blu-rays in two years. Nowadays I actually prefer trading in some of my DVD’s for movies I’ve never watched. I’ve already spent the money on movies I had already seen, so why not double my investment, and swap them for a film I have yet to discover, that I may very well enjoy.

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There will always be a dozen or so films I’ll proudly display on my DVD shelf at home, mostly for their rarity, but everything else can come and go. I no longer have the time, space, desire, nor need to own every title, of every film, I like. What about you?