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Greatest films on highest quality DVDs

Warmly welcome to our film page! We have gathered here the best grown-up and art films on highest quality DVDs and Blu-rays.
We have listed suitable films for an adult, who wishes to expand his/hers cinematic taste from plot-, not human-centered standard Hollywood products, which, more often than not, seem to be tailored for the presumed tastes of teenage boys. The single greatest benefit of home theater being the possibility of viewing the greatest works of cinema, which seldom can be seen in multiplexes of today.
 Cinema Paradiso, and the two-part Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring, are good start-up choices; it's not a good idea to pick up downhill skiing from the olympic hill, or the art of cinema from Brakhage.. :)
These films are masterpieces, which will endure, in practice, an unlimited number of viewings, films, that are worthy of spending one's hard-earned money...
The difference between a gifted and a master director is far greater, than could be deduced by reading mainstream films reviews.
One might begin to familiarize himself with the works of great cinema by taking a look at some of the linked articles lower down on this page, for example, Kiarostami interviews.

The films are in original aspect ratios, all with an original soundtrack, and are subtitled in _English_. Widescreen movies are anamorphic, unless otherwise mentioned. So on each film, the technically highest quality English-friendly disc is listed, with the best available image quality.
The region code has also been indicated on each film. To enjoy all the greatest DVDs on earth, one must have a region code free player; otherwise the player will only play the discs from it's designated area. For example, European players will normally only play region 2 and 0 (Blu-ray B and 0) discs, and American ones only region 1 and 0 (Blu-ray A and 0).
Blu-ray players are also already available as multi-region appliances.

For the European customers, amazon.uk is a good place to order DVDs; the American discs are fairly cheap, as well, due to reasonable shipping charges. Click "10 used and new" on the DVD's page; this takes you to the Amazon Marketplace, where it's a good idea to use sellers with favourable customer feedback.
US / French / German Amazons can be found at amazon.com, amazon.fr, and www.amazon.de; all use the same login information.
You may also want to visit a specialist quality film shop, moviemail; dvdempire ships fast to Europe.
When looking for Asian discs, yesasia is a good, reliable seller.
Custom charges can often be avoided, if DVDs are ordered in small enough batches. For example, Finnish customers can order 22 € worth of DVDs (discs + freight), as a one shipment, without paying VAT; check your local regulations.
Custom charges do not apply, while shipping inside the EU.
Greatest films, in no particular order..    **this page is not updated frequently**, work interferes with hobbies.. :)

The Passion of Joan of Arc
/ Carl Theodor Dreyer, R1 Criterion USA (Voices of Light as soundtrack); the art of cinema started here.
Sansho the Bailiff / Kenji Mizoguchi, "without mercy, man is like a beast"; RA Criterion or RB Masters of Cinema Blu-ray. Humane, beautiful, but somewhat uneven film, well suited for a beginner.
Late Spring / Yasujiro Ozu, RA Criterion Blu-ray, as well as the other parts of the Noriko trilogy: Early Summer, R1 Criterion USA has a film-like image, good, grey subs, and nicer (?) framing; RB BFI Blu-ray is sharper, with white, more distracting subs; Criterion. Tokyo Story, R1 Criterion USA looks more natural than the BFI BR, smaller difference. Late Ozu, R1 Eclipse USA box set, includes Early Spring, Tokyo Twilight, reasonably good Equinox Flower, Late Autumn, and The End of Summer. Floating Weeds, R1 Criterion USA.
Mirror / Andrei Tarkovsky, R2 Artificial Eye (AE) UK, and Stalker, R2 AE UK, Solaris, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, as well as Ivan's Childhood (R2 MK2 France DVD is quite good, as well); the magnificent ending saves this otherwise somewhat uneven Tarkovsky.
Wild Strawberries / Ingmar Bergman, Criterion, BR 11 Jun; Fanny and Alexander is one of the most beautiful colour films, and the Criterion box is among the finest ones ever. R0 SF Sweden Blu-ray has only the short version, and is on 1,78:1 ratio, originally 1,66:1. Persona is more experimental, not as well suited for a beginner, R0 Tartan UK; Trough a Glass Darkly, R1 Criterion USA box set A film trilogy by Ingmar Bergman also includes Winter Light and Silence. Somewhat more uneven, but fairly beautiful films Cries and Whispers, R1 Criterion USA, and Saraband, R0 Tartan UK, probably still belong to a basic collection, perhaps also the rather uneven The Seventh Seal, RA Criterion Blu-ray.
La Strada / Federico Fellini, R1 Criterion USA; a traditional, but unforgettable film, well suited for a beginner; splendid, nostalgic Intervista, R1 Koch Lorber USA (yellow subtitles) is a must-buy for cinema buffs... 8 1/2, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, and La Dolce Vita, R2 Medusa / Cinema Forever Italy, dvdland, are uneven works, but contain some of cinema's most iconic scenes. Surrealistic, uneven, Giulietta Degli Spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits), R2 Nouveaux Pictures UK, is breathtaking at it's best, but not always well understood even by the connoisseurs, so certainly not a film for a beginner.
Ikiru / Akira Kurosawa, R1 Criterion USA, is one of the greatest films; see it, before it's too late...; somewhat uneven The Idiot, R2 Masters of Cinema UK. The Seven Samurai, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, is well suited for a beginner (apart from The Seven Samurai, RAN, R2 Optimum UK, Optimum Blu-ray is darker, may be the best of Kurosawa's medieval rumbles).
Dekalog / Krzysztof Kieslowski, R2 Warner Poland box set (best quality by far). The handsome Dekalog is 10 films about human condition; the six- (and the old 10-) disc box set is out of stock at astabe, google Dekalog Krzysztofa Kieslowskiego, you might find it elsewhere in Poland; worth buying, while you can. The Double Life of Veronique, Kieslowski's virtuoso piece; R0 Artificial Eye UK Blu-ray is a bargain, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray is fine, as well. Three Colors: Blue, RA Criterion USA Three Colors Blu-ray box set.
L'eclisse (The Eclipse) / Michelangelo Antonioni, R1 Criterion USA; the final part of the alienation trilogy has a strikingly beautiful, long end montage. La Notte, R2 Masters of Cinema UK;  trilogy's middle part has a beautiful rhythm. L'Avventura is not quite at the level of the other parts, but is famous for it's new, "modern" cinematic language; R1 Criterion USA is, surprisingly, vertically cropped. These films are likely to alienate a beginner, but should you enjoy the trilogy, stylistically rather similar The Red Desert is likely to be a good buy. RA Criterion USA Blu-ray; RB BFI UK Blu-ray is somewhat darker, and with deeper colours.

The Green Ray / Eric Rohmer, is a good introduction to Rohmer's films, all the films have their supporters, though. The film is in a R0 Arrow Films UK The Eric Rohmer Collection box set, with A Good Marriage, Pauline at the Beach, Full Moon in Paris, and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, and The Aviator's Wife (Comedies and Proverbs series), and the weaker The Marquise of O; only Love in the Afternoon is duplicated by Criterion. Check the price also at ebay.uk, Arrow has sold some of these directly.
Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales, R1 Criterion USA, is a handsome box set, including the beautiful films Claire's Knee, Love in the Afternoon, and a fairly good My Night At Maud's:n, as well as the earlier films The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Suzanne's Career, and La Collectionneuse. R2 AE UK Tales of the Four Seasons box set has the wonderful films A Tale of Springtime, A Winter's Tale, A Summer's Tale, and An Autumn Tale. Rohmer's principal works, divided into three series, are among the most perfect films ever made, but often seem "slow" to a beginner's eye.
Three firstly made films of the Moral Tales (1,2,4), should perhaps only be seen after viewing the other 13 films. Many rank the later series, made from female viewpoint, even higher than the early works, but all three box sets are must-buys for a friend of great cinema. The Arrow box set is not technically quite at the level of Criterion, but it's still very watchable. Eric Rohmer 1920 - 2010.
Mother and Son / Alexander Sokurov, R2 Artificial Eye UK is not anamorphic, but this is, perhaps, the most beautiful film ever made..., also wonderful Father and Son, R2 Artificial Eye UK has also an excellent short film A Soldier's Dream; the unique Russian Ark, still AE, has been shot in a single take. The disc includes the very beautiful short Hubert Robert, A Fortunate Life, as well. Ideale Audience's series of films by Sokurov have been misleadingly labeled as documentaries; these are beautiful films, better descriped as cinematic poems, such as the great, five-part  Spiritual Voices (From the Diaries of War). R0 Ideale Audience France vs. R0 Facets USA are identical. Other films of the series may be slightly uneven, but recommendable; the beautiful Maria can be found on the Elegy of the Land DVD, R0 Ideale or R0 Facets.
Sokurov's ingenious films may not suite a beginner; Alexandra, R2 AE UK, is a somewhat more traditional film, R1 Cinema Guild has somewhat blown whites.

The Wind Will Carry Us (Le vent nous emportera) / Abbas Kiarostami, R2 MK2 France has better subs than R2 AE; Taste of Cherry, R2 Artificial Eye UK has also the master class 10 on 10, that should be seen by most directors...; Kiarostamis don't suite a beginner. Close-Up, RA Criterion USA BR; an experimental 10, R2 Optimum UK. Five dedicated to Ozu is an ingenious, beautiful (and surprisingly funny!), experimental film, consisting of five long takes. The fifth part, shot at night, works best in a completely dark room. The Ozu reference is most likely directed towards the opening scene of Early Summer, it could be from Five. The R2 BFI UK is non-anamorphic, but one might try it out with an anamorphic ratio, as large as possible. Excellent documentary ABC Africa; R1 New Yorker Video USA doesn't seem to have (differing from the reviews) combing errors, at least with a SIM2 projector. The two later parts of Kiarostami's so called Earthquake trilogy might be a good introduction to the master's works: Et la vie continue (Life, And Nothing More), and Au travers des oliviers (Trough the Olive Trees), can only be found as pirate discs (with English subs), though. The first "part", Where's the Friend's Home, is not quite as good. (Trough the Olive Trees might be found as an AE VHS tape, and is worth seeking out for it's final scene alone..). French-speakers will enjoy amazon.fr versions; these films endure bad picture quality well, though. It is also said, that, in Kiarostami's opinion, a "trilogy" emphasizing life's preciousness is rather formed by the two later parts, and the film Taste of Cherry. R2 BFI UK or R1 Cinema Guild Shirin is not the easiest 1st Kiarostami.
At their best, Kiarostami's films are cinema's answer to poetry; the multi-layered works have different meanings to different viewers, and new experiences can be drawn at each repeated viewing. These films invite the viewer to participate in the experience, and are an opposite of disposable commercial movies.
Eternity and a Day / Theodoros Angelopoulos, R4 Madman / AV Channel Australia (yellow subtitles), amazon.uk; Travelling Players, R2 New Star Greece, ebay.uk, Stelios has had reasonable prices. Fairly good Suspended Step of the Stork, and Landscape in the Mist, R2 New Star Greece as well. Xploited cinema's Angelopoulos selection isn't what it used to be. The new R2 AE UK The Beekeeper is fairly good.
Uzak (Distant) / Nuri Bilge Ceylan, R2 Artificial Eye UK, excellent image quality. The Early Works, also AE, has less excellent image, but contains the beautiful film Clouds of May, and the debut film, "trilogy's" first part Kasaba (which is non-anamorphic). Climates (Iklimler) R2 Imaj Turkey, tulumba. R1 Zeitgeist USA is interlaced, but doesn't have much combing errors. Ceylan's films, as well as many other directors' listed here, are good examples of ingenious grown-up films, still made in the 21st century.
Millenium Mambo / Hsiao-Hsien Hou, R2 TF1 France, an excellent DVD; worth buying, while you can; the ingenious Café Lumière, R1 Wellspring USA (yellow subtitles) is a homage to Ozu, the works of whom one should therefore see first. Episode film Three Times, R2 Artificial Eye UK; the latest film Flight of the Red Balloon; R2 Network UK, has a beautiful, film-like image, and R1 IFC USA should be ok as well. The early works don't quite soar to the heights of the later films, but the non-anamorphic R0 Sinomovie Taiwan box set Hou Hsiao-Hsien Ultimate Collection, is worth seeking out; the older four film box set, Hou Hsiao-Hsien Classic Collection, is sold out.

Vive L'Amour / Ming-Liang Tsai, a non-anamorphic R1 Fox USA is available as used in Amazon, R0 Sony Taiwan Blu-ray has a different framing. Tsai's films are probably not suitable for a beginner; the ingenious films rather demand, than just endure repeated viewings.
A striking film What Time Is It There?, a non-anamorphic R1 Wellspring USA (yellow subtitles); the long final scene is exceptionally beautiful. Having seen those, one is ready to watch I Don't Want to Sleep Alone; this film has some of the most beautiful quiet scenes ever witnessed, and it's one of best films in general, as far as one understands the works of Tsai. R0 Axiom Films UK is, for once, anamorphic, and technically excellent. These films shine over a bit lesser technical quality exceptionally well, though; The River, a non-anamorphic R1 Wellspring USA (yellow subtitles). Goodbye, Dragon Inn, 21st century Cinema Paradiso,  Wellspring as well (R0 Catalyst Taiwan is sold out). Wellspring is non-anamorphic, and with yellow subtitles, but includes also a good short film The Skywalk Is Gone, that's a follow-up to What Time Is It There?. The "Trilogy's" final episode is The Wayward Cloud; R0 Axiom Films UK is of good quality. It's probably a good idea to see it only after watching all the beforementioned Tsai-films; The Wayward Cloud is not an easy Tsai start-up film, as is not The Hole, a non-anamorphic R1 Fox Lorber USA (yellow subtitles). It might be easiest to become acquainted with the language of Tsai's works by seeing the films in the listed order; Vive L'Amour is not, though, an "easy" film, either. It pays to be patient here; once you have found Tsai's rythm, the superficially slow films transform suddenly into intensive, deeply moving works of art; there probably isn't quite a similar effect in any other director's work.
The films of Taiwanese, Malaysian-born master director are not at least worse than Antonioni's, to whom he is often compared.
Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring / Claude Berri, R1 MGM/Fox USA is a real bargain, containing both films. These are beautiful, "easy" films, a great introduction to French cinema. The MGM DVD availability is normal again.
La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker) / Jacques Rivette, R2 Artificial Eye UK; 2 & 3 disc versions are identical, 3rd disc is a short version, as well as a connoisseur's film (only), Céline and Julie Go Boating, R2 BFI UK.
Le Mépris (Contempt) / Jean-Luc Godard, RA+B Optimum or Lionsgate Blu-ray. Two or Three Things I Know About Her, R1 Criterion USA, is a good introduction to Godard's somewhat more demanding works, such as Histoire(s) du Cinéma; R2 AE UK has more complete subtitles than R0 Gaumont France, which is a more handsome box set. It could be argued, though, that this multilingual work is not meant to be translated in its entirety. Eloge de l'amour (In Praise of Love), R2 Optimum UK. The technically excellent R1 Lionsgate USA Godard box set contains some of the master's rarer films: The rather good Passion, and First Name: Carmen, as well as the weaker Oh, Woe Is Me, and Detective.
News From Home / Chantal Akerman, an excellent R2 Cinéart Belgium box set, The Chantal Akerman Collection, can be best found at mediadis, also including Je tu il elle, Hotel Monterey, Les Rendez-vous d'Anna, and Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.
Akerman's somewhat experimental masterpieces are not for a beginner, but for a friend of great cinema, this Belgian box set is a must-buy; worth ordering, while you can. R1 Eclipse lacks Jeanne Dielman and the good extras.

Twenty-four Eyes / Keisuke Kinoshita, R2 Masters of Cinema UK. This is, perhaps, the best introduction to Japanese cinema; the anti-war drama is very beautiful and "easy".
Cinema Paradiso / Guiseppe Tornatore, R2 Arrow Films UK box set; a celebration of film and romanticism, and a good introduction to quality films. The final scene is among greatest ones in the history of film... The box set contains both versions (long & short), but is in a somewhat strange aspect ratio. It doesn't seem to miss any information, though, unlike the R1 Weinstein / Miramax box sets, which have been cropped from the sides. RB Arrow Blu-ray is a short version only, and not a big improvement, for a Blu-ray.
City Lights / Charlie Chaplin, R1 Image Entertainment USA is in the correct aspect ratio, and can be purchased as used, amazon.com, Warner's newer R1/R2-versions have been horribly mutilated..., Park Circus Blu-ray has also been cropped to 4:3.
Sunrise - A Song for Two Humans  / F.W. Murnau, RB Masters of Cinema UK or R0 Carlotta France Blu-ray; the most uneven of the listed films, elevated to a basic collection by it's beautiful night scenes alone.
Au hasard Balthazar / Robert Bresson, R1 Criterion; the most readily approachable Bresson is A Man Escaped, Criterion or R0 Gaumont BR.
I Fidanzati / Ermanno Olmi, R1 Criterion USA; Il Posto, also Criterion. The most entertaining Tickets, R2 AE UK, is an Olmi / Kiarostami / Loach cooperation, and an easy recommendation.
Umberto D. / Vittorio de Sica, R1 Criterion DVD, Criterion BR is a hair cropped, Bicycle Thieves, R1 Criterion, or RB Arrow Blu-ray.
L'Atalante / Jean Vigo; The Complete Jean Vigo, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, contains all the films of a master director, who died all too young.
2001 - A Space Odyssey / Stanley Kubric, R0 Warner USA BR is of excellent quality, euro-disc shouldn't bee too bad either; 12 Angry Men / Sydney Lumet, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray; All Quiet on the Western Front / Lewis Milestone, R0 Universal USA Blu-ray; a somewhat uneven, but important anti-war film.

Grand Illusion / Jean Renoir; an anti-war, anti-nationalistic work, that suffers somewhat from overly large expectations, RB Studio Canal Blu-ray. The Rules of the Game features killing of real animals, and we do not recommend it, despite of it's other merits.
The World / ZhangKe Jia, R0 Masters of Cinema UK Blu-ray. Jia is a China's "sixth generation", more modern master director; this is a good introduction to his work. The earlier films are all excellent dramas of changing China; being less showy, they don't suite a beginner quite as well. R2 Artificial Eye UK DVD has both the Unknown Pleasures, and Xiao Wu. Platform, AE as well, suffers from combing, but the film is much recommended. Still Life, R1 New Yorker USA, is also an excellent film, but perhaps not quite at the level of Jia's earlier works. The DVD has only light combing, and includes the documentary Dong, as well; haven't seen the Korean version.
A docudrama 24 City, R1 Cinema Guild USA is slightly better than the R2 Drakes Avenue UK, both come with Cry Me a River.
Pather Panchali / Satyajit Ray, is in the R2 Artificial Eye UK The Apu Trilogy box set, that also contains Aparajito, and The World of Apu; apart from the wonderful Apu-trilogy, available Ray masterworks include The Music Room (Jalsaghar) RA Criterion Blu-ray. Fairly good The Adversary, R2 Mr. Bongo Films UK. Apu-trilogy, de Sica's Bicycle Thieves, and Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne's memorable Rosetta, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, put things in a right perspective, should one find life to be difficult.
The Man Without a Past / Aki Kaurismaki, R0 Sandrew Finland, amazon.uk (R2 Optimum UK is slightly vertically cropped, R1 Sony USA has yellow subs, and is a hair softer). This is the best introduction to Kaurismaki's films; a humane, yet entertaining work. R2 AE UK Aki Kaurismaki Collection Vol.2 includes Drifting Clouds, Juha, and Take Care of your Scarf, Tatjana. Vol. 1 contains the same films as R1 Eclipse USA: Shadows in Paradise, The Match Factory Girl, and Ariel. Aki Kaurismäki Collection Box 1, R2 Sandrew Finland box set, is another fine option, containing The Man Without a Past, Drifting Clouds, The Match Factory Girl, Ariel, and Shadows in Paradise. R2 Sandrew Finland Juha has some combing, as does the AE.
Closely Watched Trains / Jiri Menzel, R1 Criterion USA, tragicomedy the Czech way...
The Road Home / Yimou Zhang, R2 Columbia UK; beautiful and romatic, this is, perhaps, the best introduction to Zhang's films. Zhang is (was, see below) a China's "fifth generation" master director, maker of beautiful traditional films, well suited for a beginner. To Live, R1 MGM USA; the excellent Not One Less, R2 Columbia UK, was done using non-professional actors; fairly good The Story of Qiu Ju, R1 Sony USA (yellow subtitles). Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles was a good drama, and Happy Times a warm-hearted comedy; since then, Zhang has been directing action films, from which one should steer way clear off...
Should one enjoy romantic Chinese films, Sijie Dai's beautiful The Little Chinese Seamstress, R3 Mega Star Hong Kong, would be a good buy.

The Vertical Ray of the Sun (At the Height of Summer) / Anh Hung Tran, R1/R2-versions have different titles. R1 Sony USA is sharper than R2 AE UK, but R1 has yellow subtitles; R2 has also poor subs, large and non-removable, but at least white... R2's less distracting subtitling probably puts it ahead, with a work that belongs to the most beautiful colour films ever made.
Werckmeister Harmonies / Béla Tarr; R2 Artificial Eye UK The Béla Tarr collection box set non-anamorphic Werckmeister is identical with the 2004 AE. It also contains Damnation (in original 1,33:1-ratio), and an anamorphic version of a fairly good film, The Man from London.
Tarr's totally original films provide unforgettable moments for a cinema buff, although they are often somewhat uneven; these films don't suite a beginner.
Viridiana / Luis Bunuel, R1 Criterion USA, might be the best introduction to the films of "the father of surrealism". The debut (short) film, made with Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou, leaves it's mark to his entire production, but the R2 BFI UK box set, also containing the weaker L'Age d'Or, suffers from combing; R1 Transflux combs less, but seems contrast-boosted.
Princess Raccoon (Tanuki-goten) / Seijun Suzuki; surrealistic, beautiful, and joyous, this is a wonderful late period work from the Japanese master; it's obviously not for a beginner, though. R3 Mei Ah Hong Kong (R1 Geneon Pioneer USA is a little sharper, but has yellow subtitles; R2 Yume UK suffers somewhat from combing).
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs / Mikio Naruse, R1 Criterion USA; Naruse's films are more subtle, less showy, than the ones of other great Japanese directors, so they are not as well suited for a beginner. More Naruse films can be found at R2 BFI's and Masters of Cinema UK's fairly good Naruse box sets.
Playtime / Jacques Tati, RA Criterion USA and RB BFI UK Blu-rays ar both of good quality. The unique Playtime improves with repeated viewings (think Tsai-films), but is probably not suited for a beginner.
Children of Paradise / Marcel Carné, RA Criterion USA Blu-ray, may not be the "greatest film of all time", as it is sometimes advertised; a fairly good film, anyway, and it is remarkable, that it could have been filmed in occupied Paris.
Heimat / Edgar Reitz, R2 Tartan vs. R2 Second Sight UK look identical (R1 is horrible); Heimat 2 - Chronicle of a Generation, R2 Tartan or Second Sight UK, is the favourite part of music lovers. Heimat 3 - A Chronicle of Endings and Beginnings, R2 Artificial Eye UK. Reitz's massive, 55-hour Heimat trilogy belongs, as a whole, to the great works of cinema, "even" if it was originally a TV production. The length of it means it's bound to be uneven at places; the first hour is not it's finest. All three boxes are recommended for cinema buffs, as well.
The Color of Pomegranates / Sergei Paradjanov, comes in a R1 Kino USA box set The Films of Sergei Paradjanov. Paradjanov is one of the least known truly great directors; these are certainly among the most beautiful films ever made. The box set also contains surrealistic, ingenious films The Legend of Suram Fortress, Ashik Kerib, and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, which one should, perhaps, see last. This is a must-buy for a friend of great cinema; the discs don't suffer much from combing, with a good projector.
Syndromes and a Century / Apichatpong Weerasethakul, R2 BFI UK is not quite as sharp as R0 Strand USA, but the R2 has better subtitles (smaller and player generated).
This hypnotically beautiful, somewhat surrealistic masterpiece is a good introduction to Weerasethakul's films; it's not for a beginner, though.
Experimental films

Already travelled a bit further on a path of discovering great cinema ? These are stunning films for you; see also the compilation DVDs lower down:

Dog Star Man / Stan Brakhage; By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two RA Criterion USA Blu-ray has, apart from the 75-minute Dog Star Man, 55 short films from a master of avant-garde. These are demanding, abstract, beautiful works, which are at their best on a large screen, in a darkened room. The very original works expand even the connoisseur's view of cinema, and are, at first, at their best in small servings, improving with repeated viewings. Brakhage was a true master of the art of light; see the stunning Glaze of Cathexis.
Parts of the Dog Star Man can be seen on You Tube, this Prelude clip starts slow, this Prelude gets going faster, see also Part 2.
Hybride / Johanna Vaude, a beautiful R0 Lowave (Microcinema) France DVD, see a preview video, more works in here, includes the breathtaking Exploration, (all-time best ?) debut film L'oeil sauvage (Wild Eye), Notre Icare (Our Icarus), and three other experimental films from a young artist.
Magick Lantern Cycle / Kenneth Anger; RB BFI UK Blu-ray is somewhat better than the R0 Fantoma USA DVDs The Films of Kenneth Anger Vol. 1&2, containing the same films, for example, Fireworks, and Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. These are fun and original, a bit uneven avant-garde films, certainly not suitable for a beginner.
Cosmogonies / Hugo Verlinde; R0 Lowave France, also directly from lowave. This handsome avant-garde DVD contains the Body and Light series, where abstract films are projected on skin, including Aldebaran, Geminga, and Betelgeuse (which could be longer), as well as the more graphical Celestial Bodies series, including Ephese, Altair, and a weaker, drier Derviches, which, for some reason, opens the DVD. Short films from Verlinde's installations are also featured; this preview video starts with one of those.
DRIFT / Leah Singer, a handsome R0 Plexifilm USA/UK box set comes with a beautiful 112-page art book. Made with Lee Ranaldo, this is a very beautiful, experimental masterpiece, consisting of split screen images, films, multichannel music, sounds and texts by Ranaldo.
This preview  video is from the beginning of the work, and doesn't do it justice.
Eyeshift / Pierre-Yves Cruaud, R0 Lowave France. Striking, dynamic False Solitude (Fausse solitude), is the highlight of this DVD, a preview  video, which also contains The Hotel of Reproducible Lives (L'hôtel les vies reproductibles), the hypnotic Living Lights (Vivantes lueurs), four other modern experimental films, and an installation, Passages.
Slide / Yuki Kawamura, R0 Lowave France. The highlights of this DVD are three uncommonly beautiful films: Slide, Jour de reve, and Voisin; take a look at a preview video. Be sure to see the bonus film Lethe, as well; the disc contains a total of nine dreamlike, gentle experimental films.  After a second viewing, one might rate these films among the most beautiful ones ever made.
Fragil(e) / Helga Fanderl, R0 Lowave France, also listed as Fragiles. This DVD features 11 ingenious, silent experimental films from the years 1986-2006. Working without the safety net of sound, Fanderl has created strikingly beautifully composed, masterful works of art; not for a beginner, but otherwise much recommended. A preview video.
The Films of James Broughton, R0 Facets USA box set contains 17 avant-garde films, including the beautiful, joyous works Four in the Afternoon, The Pleasure Garden, The Bed, and Dreamwood; the three DVDs are of reasonably good technical quality. This might not be a good start-up DVD to a world of avant-garde, but for someone with previous experience of experimental cinema, this is quite a wonderful collection of films.
Greatest films, which greatest films..?

We have listed the best films that enrichen the viewer's life, as oppose to the producer's pockets, and are available as English-friendly DVDs :)
Greatest films, and great art in general, evoke thoughs and questions about humanity, and the viewer's own life, unlike commercial films, which, at best, evoke questions about imagery movie character's life, if that. Commercial films tend to be pre-felt and pre-thought, on the behalf on the viewer; blazing music arranged in every gap tells the viewer exactly what to feel, and when.
There are plenty of greatest films lists on the internet, for example, Amazon displays links on their film pages, to the favourite film lists by buyers of similar products. Sometimes these can be useful, as no-one has seen all DVDs (have bought a few thousand not so good-ones, though.. :).
Should one have some experience of films, one can fairly rapidly work out, whether the lister has actually seen great films, or is old enough to "understand" them. It's not often ment, tough, to "understand" works of art; the greatest films (great art) mean different things to different viewers, and new experiences can be drawn at each repeated viewing.
It pays to review noncooperative films by great directors, as one's perception of films changes over time. One does not often regard one's old favourites even as watchable, after seeing "real" masterpieces.
However, should Late Spring seem boring to you, consider taking a ten-year time-out, then try again :) 

It is, of course, also a question of taste to select films to a basic collection; the favourite films of two cinema buffs are not likely to be exactly the same. Most of the listed directors are likely to be familiar to a connoisseur of great cinema; should You find a new, enjoyable director here, this page has served it's purpose.
 
Pay no attention to the order of directors; this list is not in "order". Particularly suitable / non-suitable films for a beginner (= Cartoon Character I-III form cornerstones of DVD library :), have been mentioned where appropriate; cinema, as well as other hobbies, are best started from the less demanding events.

Cinema is also one of the few forms of art, where commercial success is commonly considered equal to quality. Few music critics place pop starlet's products on a level with the works of Beethoven or Brian Ferneyhough, but film critics frequently praise latest Hollywood products as "masterpieces". While shopping for DVDs, it is worth remembering, that typically an Oscar compares to a masterpiece of cinema, as a pop music award compares to a masterpiece of music... :)
Cinema Trading does not sell DVDs; good start-up films for a DVD collection have been listed, as it has been wished by our customers; we like supporting quality films, as well. This is also an opportunity to save some money for buying a quality projector, it's not a good idea to fill the shelves with superficial films; this only from a bitter experience... :)

These are worth trying as well..

The films may have been chosen too cautiously; for example, Emir Kusturica's films, drunken from life, are well worth becoming acquainted with. Kustirica's films might be a bit uneven, but unique; try out Life is a Miracle (AE).
Alain Resnais' very original works are also difficult to evaluate on behalf of someone else, test, for example, Hiroshima Mon Amour (Criterion).
Cléo from 5 to 7 / Agnés Varda, might also belong to a basic collection; this original film improves with repeated viewings.
It can be found in a beautiful R1 Criterion USA box set 4 by Agnés Varda.
The Battle of Algiers / Gillo Pontecorvo, a handsome Criterion box set, is recommendable for collectors, at least. The film is technically very competent and realistic, but also, perhaps, a somewhat depressing viewing experience. Short film The Red Balloon / Albert Lamorisse, R0 Network UK Blu-ray, is a happier experience.
Every Little Thing / Nicolas Philibert, R0 Second Run UK; a wonderful, humane film of Rohmerian beauty, follows the rehearsals of an annual summer play at a psychiatric institute. Much recommended.
Cityscapes / HC Gilje, R0 Lowave France; a slightly more challenging DVD, this probably belongs to a basic collection, as well; a preview video. Valérie Pavia / R0 Lowave France; the Sketches, seven beautiful, original short experimental films are the highlight of this DVD, concluding to touching works Pigalle and Moscou; a preview video.
A Film Is a Burning Place / Enid Baxter Blader, R0 Aurora Video USA, distributed by Microcinema, contains "easy" experimental films, such as the Local 909er; a preview video.
Dusan Makavejev Free Radical, R1 Eclipse USA, is a good quality Makavejev box set, containing Man Is Not a Bird, Love Affair, and Innocence Unprotected. The later films, released by Criterion, are not as good...
Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and '30s, R1 Kino USA, is recommended for anyone interested in the history of experimental film. Many of these films have more historical than artistic merit, but Vol. 1 includes, for example, Anémic cinéma / Marcel Duchamp, complete with subtitles, Ballet mécanique / Fernand Leger, and four experimental films by Man Ray. Apart from some sloppy framing, the technical quality is fairly good, and the newly composed music very successful.
Should you be looking for a review of Andy Warhol Anthology, R0 RaroVideo Italy, also at Musicafilm, an 8-disc (advertised as 6-) box set: Apart from the Chelsea Girls, which, perhaps, would not have suffered from a bit of further editing, these films will test the patience of all but Warhol-fans, for whom, only, this box in recommended. It is reasonably good technically, only three of the 11 films suffer from combing, and the plentiful extra materials are English-friendly.
Rome, Open City / Roberto Rossellini, a fairly good classic of Italian neorealism, is finally available as a good quality DVD, a R1 Criterion USA box set Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy. The box set includes Paisan and Germany Year Zero, as well.
Some big name directors are also absent from the list, for example Francois Truffaut (particularly The 400 Blows, RA Criterion Blu-ray, and Jules and Jim, Criterion), Lang, and Welles; these are also well worth exploring. Selecting films to a basic collection is, of course, a matter taste as well.
Criterion collection has plenty of DVDs, that did not quite fit in here. Other producers of quality DVDs include Eclipse, Masters of Cinema, BFI (British Film Institute), Artificial Eye, and Second Run. Lowave has a particularly high average quality of films.
*Attn.* New Yorker Video has sadly gone bankrupt; this will certainly not improve the availability of their DVDs in the future, so order the films you like now.

Essential compilation DVDs:

City2City
, R0 Lowave France. A great compilation of urban, modern avant-garde films, including Crossings / Marina Chernikova, Nil / Nose Chan, Worst Case Scenario / John Smith, Sarajevo Vertical / Toby Cornish, From 7 PM to 7 PM / Alli Savolainen, Exchangeable Cities / Kentaro Taki, Street Crossing / Pablo Altes, Es geht auch schneller / Ulrich Fisher, Hors Chants / Dudouet & Kaplan, and Je n'ai pas du tout l'intention de sombrer / Augustin Gimel; preview video.
Different Cinema, Vol. 2, R0 Lowave (US-distributor Microcinema) France; to begin with, the beautiful Artemis / Valérie Morignat, catches the viewers eye, but repeated viewings reveal a very good overall quality of works in this avant-garde collection: Flamen'co / Olivier Fouchard, Lily in the Glass / Shino Kano, Da qui, sopra il mare / Mauro Santini, Deperdition lointaine / Dominik Lange, Perhaps/We / Solomon Nagler, K (Désert) / Frédérique Devaux, and F.I.R.T 119 / Ruben Guzman; preview video.
Resistance(s), R0 Lowave France, a collection of avant-garde films from the Middle East and North Africa, requires and takes multiple viewings very well: Dansons / Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Transit / Taysir Batniji, Dieu me pardonne / Mounir Fatmi, Wet Tiles / Lamya Gargash, Allahu Akbar / Usama Alshaibi, untitled part 3b: (as if) beauty never ends / Jayce Salloum, K3 (Les femmes) / Frédérique Devaux, and From Beyrouth with Love / Wael Noureddine; preview video.
Advanced Beauty, R0 Microcinema USA; this beautiful DVD contains digital video artworks sculpted by sound, from the artists Robert Seidel, Carl Burgess, Karsten Schmidt, Universal Everything, Mate Steinforth, Robert Hodgin, Jelle Feringa, Marc Kremers, PandaPanther, Thomas Traum, Paul Simpson, Maxim Zhestkov, Tom Scholefield, and Pepper Melon.

Documentary films, David Attenborough

One can also expand his/hers DVD collection with good documentary films:
Shoah / Claude Lanzmann, an excellent R0 Masters of Cinema UK box set. If the MoC doesn't quite fit your budget, this important concentration camp documentary can also be seen from a reasonably priced R2 Videofilmexpress Holland box set, Amazon UK; it suffers from combing, though.
Planet Earth, R2 2 entertain UK Special Edition Blu-ray box set belongs to the finest nature documentaries, and is a must-buy for an owner of a Blu-ray player; the BBC's Galapagos R0 Blu-ray is a great disc, as well.
David Attenborough's Life on Land - A DVD Encyclopaedia. The handsome R2 2 entertain UK 15-disc box set contains newly restored, interactive versions of six of the BBC / Attenborough "Life" series: The Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth, Life in Cold Blood, The Private Life of Plants, and First Eden: The Mediterranean World and Man; these are some of the best nature documentaries ever made. The alphabetical index of species can be found both on the DVD menu, and in the included book. The technical quality is fairly good, with no visible combing. This box probably supersedes the earlier R2 24-disc box set, The Life Collection.
Other excellent BBC / Attenborough R2/R1 nature documentaries include: The Blue Planet, The Truth About Climate Change, Living Planet, Life in the Freezer, Life on Earth, State of the Planet, Trials of Life, and Lost Worlds Vanished Lives.
Life, a handsome, 10-part BBC documentary series, narrated be David Attenborough; R0 2 entertain UK Blu-ray box set.
Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages, R2+4 / R1 BBC UK/USA; seven wonderful nature documentaries, this is great value for money. Among the newer films, there is an earlier gem, A Blank on the Map, where we can follow a young, more news reporter-like David Attenborough to uncharted territories of New Guinea.
The Tribal Eye, R2+4 BBC UK box set, is a good Attenborough-series about tribal culture; a 1969 mini series, The Miracle of Bali, is also included.
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, R2 2 entertain UK, an excellent Attenborough DVD; watch a preview video.
David Attenborough's First Life, R2+4 2 entertain UK, a recent Attenborough DVD.
Madagascar, RB 2 entertain UK Blu-ray, 2 discs, includes Attenborough And The Giant Egg.
Cosmos, R1 Cosmos Studios USA, 7 disc box set has a 5.1 sound, the cheaper R2 5 disc UK version comes with 2.0. The spirit of the classic Carl Sagan series is well represented in the Symphony of Science videos A Glorious Dawn, The Unbroken Thread, and Our Place in the Cosmos.
Genius of Britain, R2 Channel 4 UK, presented by Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and David Attenborough.
Wonders of the Solar System, RB 2 entertain UK Blu-ray; Brian Cox, a BBC quality production.
An Inconvenient Truth / Davis Guggenheim, an important documentary film in any version.

Tip of the day

Maybe a Masterpiece, or Tip of the Day: Ivan's Childhood Criterion Blu-ray review, DVDBeaver, Certified Copy Criterion & AE Blu-ray comparison, Late Spring RA Criterion BR, DVDBeaver. Le Havre (Kaurismäki) RA Criterion BR released, Wild Strawberries Criterion Blu-ray released.
 
Copyright Cinema Trading 2008-2014
Jean de Florette Amazon USA
Mirror Amazon UK
Millenium Mambo Amazon France
Uzak Amazon UK
Ikiru Amazon UK
Wild Strawberries Amazon UK
Chantal Akerman Collection Mediadis
The Green Ray Amazon UK
Late Spring Amazon UK
I Fidanzati Amazon UK
Vive L'Amour Amazon USA
Passion of Joan of Arc Amazon UK
Umberto D. Amazon UK
Abbas Kiarostami
DVD shipping times

Amazon UK's shipping time to Finland is 2 - 3 working days, with the cheaper shipping option; this is a day faster than previously.
(Large orders sometimes ship from Germany, this may, at least, double the shipping time.)
UK-Marketplace's better UK-sellers' shipments arrive usually in 2-7 days, the best American shipments make it here in a week (fastest ones ever in 3-4 days); the slower ones might travel three weeks. German and French Amazons are somewhat slower than the UK-version.
Amazon France has charged in multiple cases the US-postage from a Finnish Marketplace purchase; so, check the French Marketplace charges; situation has improved, seems ok now.
DVD Empire's delivery time from USA to Finland is about 4-7 working days, with 1-2 disc shipments, using the cheaper shipping option.
Should you not be able to find a sold-out DVD from the beforementioned sources, google the film's name and dvd; you might find more purchase options.
It might be a good idea, though, to pay an unknown seller, say, with a PayPal transfer. Offers too good to be true are often just that...

Quality film links  

Aki Kaurismaki - Orimattila library, Bicycle Thieves, Cinema and Art of Sergei Paradjanov, Cinema with an Accent - Jia, The composer's eye - Ozu, Fill In the Blanks - Taste of Cherry, Goodbye City, Goodbye Cinema - Tsai, Imagining Life - The ending of Taste of Cherry, The Incomplete Tsai Ming-Liang - BFI, Ingmar Bergman, Interview with Mary Stephen - Rohmer, Ivan's Childhood, Kiarostami Will Carry Us, Magical Realism in Autumn Tale, Mirror, Mirror, Nostalghia - Tarkovski, Of space and solitude - Tsai, On the Blurring of Lines - Sokurov, Remapping Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Rohmer Talk, Satyajit Ray, Siunattu teknologia - Kaurismaki, Stan Brakhage Introduction, Start of a Journey - Bergman, A Sublime So Familiar - Godard,
The Subway Will Carry Us - Kiarostami, Taste of Kiarostami, Ten, Tsai Retrospective, Tsai Ming-Liang: Cinematic Painter, What Time Now? - Tsai, Bright Lights Film Journal, Yasujiro Ozu.

Bright Lights Film Journal, Cahiers du Cinéma - also in English, Cineaste, Flicker, indieWIRE, Offscreen, Senses of Cinema, Strictly Film School.
10 Feb 2013 links: Close-Up, The Guardian, The Music Room, The Guardian.

The best technical DVD reviews can be found at DVDBeaver, see an alphabetical review index. DVD-Basen has the world's largest DVD review database. A release schedule for upcoming, quality DVD releases can be found at Strictly Film School.
Should one prefer intelligent films, made from grown-ups, one is not very likely to find many in a movie theater near you. Films, that we would call watchable, are sadly most often limited to big city art house theaters; luckily, we have home theater.
It wouldn't be even meaningful to call the latest Hollywood / Bollywood products as complete failures as art, since most have not, judging by the end product, even been meant to achieve anything but box office turnover...
To succeed in creating a masterpiece, one must take risks; should the makers of a film fail to even try, the film is not worthy, in our opinion, even of a single star rating.. :)
Kiarostami quotes Olmi in 10 on 10: "The first generation filmmakers looked at life, and made films. Second generation of filmmakers watched the films of the first generation, looked at life, and made films. The third generation just watched the films of 1st and 2nd generations, and made films. The fourth generation, which is us, looks neitheir at life, nor watches the films, we merely go trough the (product) catalogues, and base our movies on technical capabilities."

                                                                                                                                                                              sivu suomeksi
The Wind Will Carry Us Amazon France
Cosmogonies Lowave
Cinema Paradiso Amazon UK
Eternity and a Day Amazon UK
Mother and Son Amazon UK
Slide Lowave
Twenty-four Eyes Amazon UK
Spiritual Voices Amazon UK
At the Height of Summer Amazon UK
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone Amazon UK
Au hasard Balthazar Amazon UK
Histoires du cinéma Gaumont
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