Ten Criterion Titles That Opened My Eyes

by Tom

Created 07/13/12

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My romance with the Criterion Collection has lasted for some years now. It really changed me in the way I watch movies and in the types of movies I watch. Opening my eyes to the wonders of foreign cinema, I was fansicnated to see how people from other areas of the world saw life both imagined and real. Also in discovering some of the great films of the American cinema experience. The commentaries and supplemental features expanded my knowledge and love of these films and my understanding of thoes who made them. I became a student of film thanks to my delving headlong into the ever expanding catalouge. Here are ten of the films that are touchstones to my criterion experience.

  • Anna Karnia. What more needs to be said about Bande a Part. It looks as free flowing and vital as the day it was filmed. I come back to this film more than any other title in the collection. Did I mention Anna Karina? Perfection.

  • Not my first Bergman film, but certainly the one that has had the most impact on me. Perfectly acted. Beautifully shot. Painfully real. I think its his most uncompromising film, and considering his body of work that says alot. Anyone who has faith can relate to the people in this film. We all have questioned everything at some point in our lives. Thankfully Bergman put his crisis of faith on celluliod for us all to be amazed at.

  • The first Criterion title I purchased. I had read about the film before in doing some reading on silent films. And to be quite honest, the dvd case alone made me purchase it. The supplemental section with its excellent commentary and impressive making of material made me really appriciate the film more, and how great it was to have such material. A very important film in the collection for me.

  • My favorite trip into Wes Anderson World. I always find something new when I watch this movie. The vibrant colors. The amazing soundtrack (my first exposure to indian music, outside the beatles of course). And a really moving tale of three siblings lost to each other and found again and spiritual growth. I saw it 4 times on the big screen when it came out, each one an amazing experience. "Do you think shes gaslighting you..?"

  • One of the ultimate Criterion releases. 3 discs of Terry Gilliam satire, lunacy and darkness. 3 versions of the film. The battle for brazil making of is worth the price of admission alone. Truly a film that rewards with each return watch. And an interesting study on the art of editing and how it can change a film.

  • Another "what more can you say about this film" film. Because it is such a remarkable accomplishment. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

  • Like jazz music made visable. Fast and free wheelin'. Jean Luc Godard's first film Breathless is one of his best works. Belmondo and Seberg are frozen forever in time and memory as the embodiment of french new wave cool and sex appeal.

  • Ah, New York and the end of the 50's. Jazz. Like the works of the beat writers made flesh. Shadows is brilliant in its understatement. Its a simple story, told simply. Yet it is full of raw emotions and sensuality. Dig it man!

  • Kurosawa's masterpiece. Compassion and understanding are at the heart of his last black and white film. Its a meditative film, you must take it in slowly and really think about it. I get lost in it everytime I see it.

  • One of my favorite movies ever. One of the most mindbending experiences I ever had watching a film. Depp and Deltoro are in fine form, Its hard to seperate them from the onscreen persona's now. As crazed and thought provoking as the book it was based on. Buy the ticket, take the ride.


  • By dzejman
    February 22, 2014
    10:41 PM

    A lot of these films have also opened my eyes, most specifically Red Beard. Very nice list. I'll have to check out Shadows.
  • By Scott B.
    June 16, 2016
    08:53 PM

    The thing I have noticed the most is the number of Criterions that have come out this year.If one looks at years past,the total was between fifteen and twenty-five releases a year.Through August,I think there have been around seventy.That tells me the company is doing very well.That is a great thing,but you have to be a millionaire to afford this kind of volume.That is disheartening in a way.I am sure you have heard of the two movie services launching in the fall.I guess I am going to be forced to subscribe to these services.I got rid of Hulu a year ago because,there is nothing like owning a Criterion,and the bonus features are the best I have ever seen.The bonus features are sometimes better than the movie.I will end with this,have you seen the just released list of movies for September,I definitely will not be able to keep up with the sheer number of releases.
  • By Zach N.
    June 28, 2016
    12:18 PM

    The ten that opened my eyes, and I'll stick with films that I watched through Criterion: Walkabout, Peirrot le fou, Shoah, Ikiru, Woman Under the Influence, Ordet, Au Hasard Balthazar, Antonioni Alienation Trilogy
  • By Sal U. Lloyd
    August 01, 2016
    04:07 PM

    PASSION and WINTER LIGHT for sure. BAND is hip fun, but no more. BRAZIL is a blur or as Scrooge would say, an undigested piece of cheese. FEAR AND LOATHING is also a piece, but not of cheese.
  • By BaregrassBoy
    August 03, 2016
    07:04 PM

    2 Godards, 2 Bergmans and 2 Gilliams. I confess I've not seen the Gilliam films, but "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was a film I adored as an adolescent. I saw "Time Bandits" but can't call it to mind, and I remember that I did not like "The Fisher King" but cannot recall why. He is pretty good IMO. Bergman is a mac-daddy, and I love "The Seventh Seal." I'll have to check "Winter Light" out. "The Passion of Joan of Arc" would be in my top ten too. I'm a Cassavettes fan, but have not seen "Shadows.' I've noticed that Kurosawa's "Red Beard" is often a favorite, so I'll have to check it out. I like Wes Anderson. I loved his first 3 films, especially Rushmore, but I've seen nothing but "The Life Aquatic" since. I guess it was not as good though it was OK. OK I'll see "The Darjeeling Limited." Godard's work in the 60s, including "Breathless" is something I enjoy, but he is too self consciously cool for me sometimes.
  • By duke_mccloud
    August 06, 2016
    01:43 AM

    Mine: Close-Up, Robocop, Passion of Joan of Arc, Mr. Arkadin, Repo Man, L'Atalante, Make Way for Tommorow, The Third Man, The Bad Sleep Well, Lord of the Flies.
  • By Galla_Dali
    August 27, 2016
    04:33 PM

    Great list!
  • By bulgakov
    October 22, 2016
    02:39 PM

    thank you!
  • By Tom
    October 26, 2016
    05:46 AM

    I want to say thanks for all the great comments! I'm glad to see people actually read these. I'll have to do a new one sometime soon.
  • By Sal U. Lloyd
    November 08, 2016
    03:31 PM

    F & L one of the most mindbending experiences, Tom? More like mindnumbing! i don't know about the fear, but they sure got the loathing part right!!! I LOATHED this movie. You want "mindbending" you need to see EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, ERASERHEAD, BEGOTTEN. Not this ****. I hard to believe pick, considering you are a fan of the brilliant WINTER LIGHT.
    • By Cathy Earnshaw
      November 26, 2016
      06:22 PM

      Film is subjective. Not everyone reacts the same way to the same movies. Good God....
  • By LyleG
    February 18, 2017
    11:55 PM

    Repo Man, 12 Angry Men, Eraserhead, Videodrome, My Dinner With Andre, and The Royal Tenenbaums opened my eyes. If you never seen them, they're all worth a look!
  • By Jake W.
    April 20, 2017
    03:41 PM

    Now I want to make my own list, and probably will.
  • By Seamus Hawkins
    April 28, 2017
    05:27 PM

    I like your choices. Especially Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • By Davey32
    May 16, 2017
    09:24 PM

    I love your list, especially Band of Outsiders and Brazil. Mine: The Night of the Hunter, Mulholland Drive, Persona, The Long Day Closes, and Nights of Cabiria really fueled into my subconscious and increased my passion for film and Criterion.
    • By lorantz
      March 12, 2018
      12:23 PM

      I love this list.. I think Mulholland Drive changed how I view film.
  • By KermitusX
    July 19, 2017
    01:35 PM

    Why are people telling him films that altered his perspective of movies are wrong? This is his list. Go make your own. I for one am glad that his reaction to titles from this great company have impacted him and made him look into further corners of the cinema world. Thank you for sharing, now I'm going to go and compile my own list!
  • By Savoy_65College
    July 25, 2017
    04:02 PM

    Thank you!
  • By Dragonfly
    September 01, 2017
    06:51 PM

    My ten: Masculin Féminin, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders; Antichrist; Eraserhead; Mulholland Dr.; Exterminating Angel; Shock Corridor; Jubilee; Pandora's Box; 8 1/2. Now, I could quickly come up with another ten, and then another, and so on. Sadly, some of these have gone out of print. Glad to see more Lynch, more Tarkovsky. Would love to see more Czech and Polish "new wave" and was pleased to see Valerie and he Eclipse set with Daisies. Would be OverThrilled to see The Saragossa Manuscript picked up, as there is no Region 1, NTSC available. Also, would love to see more of the best of the best "horror, weird, uncanny, surreal." Robert Egger's The Witch (over-hyped, and hyped toward the wrong crowd) is an excellent film in every way and re-introduced true quality to the cineplex for a brief moment in these dismal comic-book franchise CGI-crazy times, and it deserves better than to fall through the cracks... I would love to see this revived with a Criterion release! -- Thanks for CC!! I'll watch the three films on your list that I haven't seen. -James
    • By Luke
      November 04, 2017
      06:47 PM

      I'm completely on-board with you. The Witch definitely deserves a criterion release, and I'm surprised The Wicker Man never has gotten one either. Also think A Ghost Story from this year deserves one ASAP: completely genre-defying. If you haven't seen Altman's 3 Women, I think you'd really enjoy it based on your interests here. Same with a lot of the Japanese New Wave. Branded to Kill is pretty out there.
  • By Jim Morrow
    September 04, 2017
    10:59 PM

    Great, and thanks! I've seen all but the first two, so I'll check out Band of Outsiders and Winter Light.
  • By ThePieperReview
    October 19, 2017
    11:10 PM

    The Darjeeling Limited does not get the due it deserves. My favorite Wes Anderson film!