The Criterion Collection holds a special place in every cinephile’s heart. If said cinephile is also a home video collector, the dangers of that special affection turning into an unhealthy obsession is an unavoidable side effect. For Criterion fans, their Black Friday doesn’t occur on the day after Thanksgiving, but during those magical times when Barnes & Noble decides to implement their ever-popular fifty percent off deal for all Criterion releases every six months or so.
Aside from the gorgeous transfers and special features so rich they can substitute for film school, one of the most attractive features of Criterion releases is the creative and alluring cover designs. Everyone has their favorite kind of Criterion artwork, the abstract use of still frames from the film, new drawings commissioned specifically for the Criterion release, or more abstract designs. This writer’s favorites tend to be the more minimalist covers, like the flag in “Seven Samurai” or the symmetrical cover of “The Great Dictator.”
Now there’s a big reason for fans of this cover art to rejoice: The good folks at Criterion recently released “Criterion Designs,” a huge coffee table book full of every cover from the company’s archive, going all the way back to their first laserdisc releases in 1984, as well as concept artwork that wasn’t used. In order to promote the book, Criterion edited together a short and brisk video where the various artworks come to life. And it’s pretty terrific, showing how the essence and energy of a film can be captured with one great piece of artwork. You can watch the video below and order the book here.