I'm feeling nostalgic and a little bit older today. This week marks the unofficial ten-year anniversary of the DVD format. DVD Journal says that Warner Home Video released 61 titles across the USA on August 26, 1997. (Selected titles had been available in test markets for six months before that.) By the early 90s I had grown tired of videotape's limitations and purchased a laserdisc player. I loved the quality of laserdiscs, but the high prices ($50-$60, $100 for deluxe editions like the director's cut of The Abyss) kept me from buying very many, and then I decided to wait and see if the promise of DVD -- smaller size, entire movie on one side, extra features -- would come to pass. As soon as I could afford it, I bought a DVD player and a few discs. I was instantly hooked.

DVD Journal was one of the first "dedicated to DVD" sites that I read on a regular basis. While their reviewers touted the benefits of the DVD format, their main focus was always on the film itself, a philosophy expressed by the Editor himself in naming his top 25 DVDs: "This is all about movies, and there is little point in discussing how good a particular DVD looks or sounds if the film is crap - there is no point in watching bad films more than once."

Today the Editor wrote a very fine 3,000 word essay on the past ten years of the DVD format. He puts things into historical perspective ("It's hard to understate the impact that DVD has had on our movie-consuming culture"), gives credit to early vanguard sites like The DVD Resource Page (sadly extinct), The Digital Bits and DVDFILE.com ("Thanks to DVD websites, the "blind" purchase has never been necessary"), and speculates on the future ("If DVD isn't as cool as it was ten years ago - and face it, it's not - at least it has the chance to be pretty cool again."). It's a marvelous piece, well worth your time to read, but it also marks the end of an era because the site is ceasing publication.

Cinematical salutes The DVD Journal for its many years of timely release news and excellent reviews. The DVD scene won't be quite the same without you. For now, the site remains online; the archives contain almost 4,000 reviews.

[ Thanks to Craig for the tip. ]
categories Features, Cinematical