Dream DVDs: Special Editions and Box Sets That Could Be

5. The Films of Satyajit Ray

Of all the Ray films that Merchant-Ivory revived for re-release with Columbia Pictures in 1995, only The Apu Trilogy made it to an official stateside DVD release. That leaves some essentials that are still only available here in a Columbia VHS release from ten years ago: The Music Room (1958), Devi (1960), Two Daughters (1961), The Big City (1963), Charulata (1964), and The Middleman (1976). Prints were prepared and video masters made, so the elements exist. If Sony isn't interested, James Ivory could take the project to Criterion or to Home Vision, which did such an admirable job bringing out The Merchant Ivory Collection some years back. And that's still just a start on his rich career.

6. Abbas Kiarostami's Koker Trilogy

The Koker Trilogy

The films that first made Abbas Kiarostami's international reputation - Where Is My Friend's Home? (1987), Life and Nothing More (1992), and Through the Olive Trees (1995) - are a loose trilogy shot in the rural village of Koker, Iran, which suffered a devastating earthquake in 1990 (it's also been called The Earthquake Trilogy). Facets released the first film on VHS years ago. Miramax bought and shelved Through the Olive Trees (though it has been shown on The Sundance Channel). They would make a perfect collection, especially supplemented by some of Kairostami's earlier documentaries or his delicious 1989 documentary Homework (a great companion film to Where Is My Friend's Home?). Then we can start on the films of Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

7. Weekend Stories

Krzysztof Zanussi's loosely connected dramatic snapshots of post-Communist Poland is, Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Decalogue, a story cycle originally made for TV. Zanussi's series of eight small, self-contained stories has been unfairly overshadowed by Kieslowski's masterpiece and demands a DVD release (Facets put a collection out on VHS years ago, but even by those low-fi standards it looked poor). This amazing series of affecting stories is a powerful survey of Poland recovering from the scars of authoritarian rule and facing the legacy of communism is terms that are both achingly personal and universal. With a little digging, maybe some enterprising producer could find some behind-the-scenes footage or interviews from Polish TV or Zanussi's own production company, Tor.

8. Out 1

Jacques Rivette's rarely-screened 1971 12-hour-plus film received its American debut in an art-house roadshow tour of the US and Canada in 2006. DVD is the logical home for such a sprawling yet intimate production, and to dream really big, the set should include the shorter, reconceptualized take on the project Out 1: Spectre, which features some footage not in the original. And while we're one the subject, I'd love to see a new, remastered release of La Belle Noisseuse paired up with the alternate version, Divertimento, another reconceptualized film from Rivette.

9. The Aki Kaurismäki Collection

There are three Kaurismäki films available on DVD in the US: The Man Without a Past, Lights in the Dusk, and the concert film Leningrad Cowboys: Total Balalaika Show. There are currently four Region 2 DVD box sets of Aki Kaurismäki's films available in Britain, including the Underdog Trilogy (Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl) and Drifting Clouds. I see a serious discrepancy.

10. The Premiere Frank Capra Collection: Volume 2 - Early Capra

The first Capra set, released in 2006, boxed up the director's best known Columbia pictures with his less well-known but just-as-essential American Madness. Now it's time to reach back and release his magnificent The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), with Barbara Stanwyck. In fact, you could make it a Capra/Stanwyck collection with Ladies of Leisure (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), and Forbidden (1932).

11. A Matter of Life and Death: Deluxe Edition

Released stateside as Stairway to Heaven, this beloved Michael Powell romantic fantasy has been on the top of many a cinephile's wish list for years. Sony was reportedly at work on a restoration and DVD release (following the theatrical revival in the 90s), but it's been dragging on for years. Is it a rights issues? Regardless, any release would be well served with commentary by Martin Scorsese and The South Bank Show profile of Michael Powell made in 1986, among any new supplements they may create.

12. Frank Borzage: Three Silent Classics with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell

Not even as ambitious as Dave Kehr's call for "Borzage at Fox," this would be simply a collection of Borzage's final three silent films: his masterpieces Seventh Heaven and Street Angel, with Lucky Star tossed in to complete the Gaynor/Farrell set. However, I would gladly swap this modest proposal for a much bigger Borzage collection that encompassed these gorgeous romantic dramas.

Honorable Mentions

I can't hope to list everything, but here are a few more wishes:

Sternberg and Dietrich - Most of their collaborations are already on DVD, but a box set might finally get Shanghai Express and Dishonored out.

Max Ophüls in America – A companion to the upcoming Criterion box set with Caught, Letter From an Unknown Woman, and the home video debuts of The Exile and The Reckless Moment.

The Films of Edward Yang – His debut film That Day, On the Beach (which also the first film shot by Christopher Doyle), his 1991 epic A Brighter Summer Day, hell, everything before Yi-Yi should be out.

Until the End of the World: Complete Director's Cut
- Available as an import, but will Warner ever do a stateside edition?

The Films of Oscar MicheauxThe Films of Oscar Micheaux - The original African-American independent maverick, in a set with the documentary Midnight Ramble: The Story of the Black Film Industry.

Forbidden Hollywood: William Wellman - A suggestion for Warners' fledgling collections of pre-code Hollywood cinema, with Night Nurse, Heroes For Sale, and Wild Boys of the Road.

Early Ken Loach - Cathy Come Home, Poor Cow (as seen in The Limey), and Kes, which was just shown on TCM.

Chimes at Midnight - Michael Dawson was tracking down materials and working on a restoration ten years ago. Is it still on, or hopelessly tangled in rights disputes? The existing Spanish DVD is simply inadequate.

Husbands - Let's get this John Cassavetes drama out with commentary while Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk are still alive.

Histoire(s) Du Cinema - Okay, this Godard set is pure fantasy. There are too many film and music rights to clear for any sane human to embark on this, but I can dream, can't I?

I could go on wishing (for more by Nicholas Ray, Sam Fuller, Claude Chabrol, Rex Ingram, Ousmane Sembene, Edgar Ulmer, Luchino Visconti, Cy Enfield, Phil Karlson, Fritz Lang, Stanley Kwan, Nagisa Oshima, Raúl Ruiz, Robert Rossellini, Howard Hawks, Robert Bresson…), but I hand it over to you: Add your wishes here.

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